Wales have named their squad for the World Rugby U20 Championships, taking place in South West France from 30th May to the 17th June.
Interim Head Coach Geraint Lewis has named a 28-man squad. Lewis has been a part of the coaching set ups at U18 and U20 level since 2014 and comes in to replace Jason Strange, who takes over at Cardiff Blues at the end of the season. Strange will assist Lewis in the build up to the tournament though, prior to the squad’s departure for France.
Commenting on the change at the top, WRU Head of Rugby performance, Geraint John, said:
“Jason has been fantastic during his time as Wales U20 head coach, and his involvement in the lead-up to France is important. It’s the right thing for us to allow him to join the Blues in June to give him enough preparation time there, and for Geraint to move up to become head coach for the tournament.”
Wales are drawn in a tough Pool A, with Australia, Japan, and the most successful side in U20 World Championship history, New Zealand.
The squad is led by Leicester Tigers flanker Tommy Reffell, and he is joined in the squad by fellow Exiles Rhys Davies of Bath, the former Millfield second row.
Ospreys pair Tiaa Thomas-Wheeler and Dewi Cross step up from the U18 programme, while scrum half Harri Morgan is also involved. The Ospreys youngster is U18 eligible but started through the U20 Six Nations for Wales U20.
Commenting on the squad and his step up to the Head Coach role, Lewis said:
“I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity to head up the coaching team this summer in France – continuing and complementing the good work Jason has done. As players and staff, we know each other well and what we expect from one another.”
“We’ve used the Six Nations to develop and observe a large group of players in preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship. In doing so we’ve made selection a very difficult process for ourselves, but that’s a positive thing. Our pool is very tough, but everyone’s excited because we don’t often play Southern Hemisphere teams. Experiencing a different style of play is a key aspect of our players’ development.”
Wales U20 squad:
Taine Basham (Dragons) Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues) Chris Coleman (Dragons) Dan Davis (Scarlets) Rhys Davies (Bath Rugby) Rhys Davies (Scarlets) Ben Fry (Dragons) Lennon Greggains (Dragons) Iestyn Harris (Cardiff Blues) Rhys Henry (Ospreys) Dewi Lake (Ospreys) Alun Lawrence (Cardiff Blues) Jack Pope (Bridgend) Tommy Reffell (c) (Leicester Tigers) Josh Reynolds (Dragons) Max Williams (Dragons)
Corey Baldwin (Scarlets) Dane Blacker (Cardiff Blues) Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets) Dewi Cross (Ospreys) Rio Dyer (Dragons) Cai Evans (Ospreys) Joe Goodchild (Dragons) Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues) Harri Morgan (Ospreys) Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets) Ben Thomas (Cardiff Blues) Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler (Ospreys)
Wales U20 Pool Fixtures:
Wednesday 30th May: v Australia, Stade de la Mediterranee, Béziers (8pm KO)
Sunday 3rd June: v New Zealand, Stade de la Mediterranee, Béziers (3.30pm KO)
Thursday 7th June: v Japan, Stade Aime-Giral, Perpignan (5.30pm KO)