England have named their side to take on Ireland in the U20 Six Nations on Friday night at Franklin’s Gardens.
The 7.45pm kick off will be shown live on Sky Sports Mix and the two sides are the last remaining unbeaten sides, England having beaten France and Scotland narrowly, while reigning Grand Slam champions Ireland have beaten Scotland and Wales.
England Head Coach Alan Dickens has made six changes to the side that beat Scotland last time, six of those coming in the pack. In the front row Saracens’ Sam Crean makes his debut in place of Leicester Tigers’ James Whitcombe, while at tighthead London Irish’s Luke Green returns to the starting lineup, Saracens’ Harvey Beaton drops down to the bench. Saracens’ Theo Dan is again at hooker, with London Irish’s Ben Atkins and Northampton Saints’ Emmanuel Iyogun the two front row replacements alongside Beaton.
In the second row Hugh Tizard gets his first start having been on the bench last time out, he joins Harlequins teammate George Hammond at lock, with London Irish’s Chunya Munga set to make his debut there from the bench.
In the back row the Exeter Chiefs duo of Richard Capstick and Rus Tuima both remain, but at openside Gloucester’s Josh Gray is promoted from the bench, with Newcastle Falcons’ Rob Farrar among the replacements and in line for a debut.
There are just two changes in the backs, Exeter Chiefs’ Sam Maunder is once again the captain at scrum half but he has a new partner this week in the form of Gloucester’s George Barton, who is promoted from the bench in place of Manu Vunipola, who started for Saracens on Saturday. Covering fly half from the bench is Newcastle Falcons’ Will Haydon-Wood who, like Farrar, was once at Sedbergh and is in line for a debut. As is his potential half back partner, Blake Boyland, the Bristol Bear comes in for Jack Van Poortvliet to cover scrum half.
Outside of them Saracens’ Charlie Watson comes in at twelve with Max Ojomoh moving to the bench, while the rest of the backline is as you were, with Connor Doherty at outside centre and his Sale Sharks teammate Tom Roebuck on the left wing. Bath’s Gabriel Hamer-Webb is on the right, with Leicester Tigers’ Freddie Steward again at full back.
Speaking to www.englandrugby.com ahead of the game, Alan Dickens said:
“Friday sees us come up against a strong Ireland side who are also unbeaten in this year’s tournament and who are the U20 Grand Slam champions so we know how tough a challenge it is going to be, for us it’s all about building through the tournament and improving with each game and that is what I want to see on Friday.”
“A feature of our opening two games has been the squad’s ability to be clinical and control the game at key periods, but also their spirit and we know that will be important on Friday. We’ve made changes so this is a great chance for those players to show how good they are and stake a claim for their rest of the Championship.”
‘We have some players unavailable due to club commitments so that is a great opportunity for them to get experience playing Premiership rugby and will no doubt aid their development as future senior professionals.”
“For me to bring an England team to the ground I called home for over 10 years is an incredibly proud moment. I had so many highs here, most notably the Premiership semi-final win in 2014, and it’s special to be back so soon. The atmosphere that day was fantastic and I know the players are relishing being on home soil after two tough away fixtures.”
England U20 XV v Ireland – Friday, 7.45pm, Franklin’s Gardens (Live on Sky Sports Mix)
15 Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers), 14 Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Bath), 13 Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks), 12 Charlie Watson (Saracens), 11 Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks), 10 George Barton (Gloucester), 9 Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs, captain), 1 Sam Crean (Saracens), 2 Theo Dan (Saracens), 3 Luke Green (London Irish), 4 Hugh Tizard (Harlequins), 5 George Hammond (Harlequins), 6 Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs), 7 Josh Gray (Gloucester), 8 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs).
Replacements: 16 Ben Atkins (London Irish), 17 Emmanuel Iyogun (Northampton Saints), 18 Harvey Beaton (Saracens), 19 Chunya Munga (London Irish), 20 Rob Farrar (Newcastle Falcons), 21 Blake Boyland (Bristol Bears), 22 Will Haydon-Wood (Newcastle Falcons), 23 Max Ojomoh (Bath).