England have named their side to face Scotland in their final pool game of the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championships.
Steve Bates’ side are in prime position to secure a spot in the main semi finals, and with it a chance to secure a sixth final in a row. Scotland meanwhile have endured successive defeats to Italy and Argentina and their dreams of a semi final spot are over.
However, the Scots beat England in this year’s U20 Six Nations, so Thursday’s 8pm (BST) kick off in Beziers should be a great encounter, with England looking to get their own back and Scotland looking for a signature result in these championships. The game will be streamed live on www.worldrugby.org as well as on their Facebook and YouTube channels.
England have made 10 changes to the side that beat Italy 43-5 on Sunday. Former Denstone College scrum half Ben White comes in to captain the side, with squad captain Ben Curry on the bench for this one after two starts at openside.
White is partnered in the half backs by his Leicester Tigers teammate Tom Hardwick. The former rugby school man started at 12 in the opener before coming on off the bench on Sunday, he now gets his chance in the number ten shirt.
Worcester Warriors’ Will Butler keeps his place at inside centre, while Leicester Tigers’ Jordan Olowofela, who starred on the wing in the opener, shows his versatility as he comes in at outside centre.
Northampton Saints’ James Grayson, who started at ten against Argentina in the opener, has a run at full back, while the two wings remain unchanged with Harlequins’ Gabriel Ibitoye on the right and London Irish’s Ben Loader on the left.
Loader is one of a remarkable five former Wellington College pupils in the starting line up, with Rory Brand, Matt Williams, and Tom Parton covering the backs on the bench and Josh Basham covering the second row and number 8. Williams has been called into the squad for the remainder of the tournament after Saracens’ Ali Crossdale’s rotten run of injuries continued and sees him ruled out of the rest of the tournament.
In the pack it is all change in the front row, with Gloucester’s Ciaran Knight at loosehead, Beck Cutting replacing Henry Walker at hooker, the two were at Bromsgrove School together, and former Felsted man Ehren Painter coming in at tighthead.
Saracens’ Joel Kpoku is selected in the second row for the third game in a row, the only member of the squad to start all three games. Former Malvern College man James Scott partners him. It was announced yesterday that Sam Lewis will miss the rest of the tournament as a result of his ban for his red card against Italy on Sunday, which means that England will have to manage their second row options carefully for the rest of the competition.
One man who could be vital therefore is Worcester Warriors’ Ted Hill. Hill starts on the blindside against Scotland but could be a second row option going forward. Gloucester’s Aaron Hinckley comes in at openside, while Tom Willis moves from blindside flanker against Italy to number 8 against Scotland.
Joining the four ex-Wellington College men and Ben Curry on the bench are front rowers Gabriel Oghre, Alex Seville, and Joe Heys.
Speaking ahead of the game, Steve Bates said: “The challenge is always going to be one of improvement as we go through this tournament, the first two games have been good but there are still things we need to work on. We recognise that this fixture is a good opportunity for us to keep progressing and to build momentum so there is a pressure on this group to ensure we don’t drop our intensity or pace.”
“We need to cut out some of the errors that crept into our game in the last match. We won the ball well, we scrummaged well but we have to be a little more accurate with the ball when we get it, keep it, be patient and if we do that then we will stretch sides.”
“Scotland have been really competitive in the two games they have played so far and although we have beaten those two teams we’ve had to work pretty hard to do it. The rivalry between the two nations will be a part of this game and I think the fact they beat us in the Six Nations will also be a factor and will no doubt raise the intensity of both sides.”
England U20 v Scotland U20: Thursday, 8pm (BST), Beziers – Live on www.worldrugby.org highlights on ITV 4.
England U20 XV:
15 James Grayson (Northampton Saints)
14 Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
13 Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)
12 Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
11 Ben Loader (London Irish)
10 Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)
9 Ben White (Leicester Tigers, captain)
1 Ciaran Knight (Gloucester)
2 Beck Cutting (Worcester Warriors)
3 Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints)
4 Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
5 James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
6 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
7 Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester)
8 Tom Willis (Wasps)
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), 17 Alex Seville (Gloucester), 18 Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), 19 Josh Basham (London Irish), 20 Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), 21 Rory Brand (London Irish), 22 Matt Williams (London Irish), 23 Tom Parton (London Irish).
World Rugby U20 Championship Results:
Australia 54-19 Japan
New Zealand 42-10 Wales
Argentina 29-13 Scotland
England 43-5 Italy
France 24-12 Georgia
South Africa 30-17 Ireland
New Zealand 67-0 Japan
Wales 26-21 Australia
England 39-18 Argentina
Italy 27-26 Scotland
France 26-24 Ireland
South Africa 33-27 Georgia
World Rugby U20 Championship Fixtures (All times BST):
Thursday 7th June:
Wales v Japan, 5.30pm, Perpignan
New Zealand v Australia, 8pm, Perpignan
Thursday 7th June:
Italy v Argentina, 5.30pm, Beziers
England v Scotland, 8pm, Beziers
Thursday 7th June:
Ireland v Georgia, 5.30pm, Narbonne
South Africa v France, 8pm, Narbonne
Semi Finals – Tuesday 12th June
2nd v 3rd – 6pm, Narbonne
1st v 4th – 8pm, Perpignan
6th v 7th – 1pm, Narbonne
5th v 8th – 3.30pm, Narbonne
10th v 11th – 3pm, Perpignan
9th v 12th – 5.30pm, Perpignan
Finals – Sunday 17th June
11th Place Play Off – 10am, Beziers
9th Place Play Off – 12.30pm, Beziers
5th Place Play Off – 1pm, Beziers
7th Place Play Off – 3pm, Beziers
3rd Place Play Off – 3.30pm, Beziers
Final – 6pm, Beziers