Chiefs trio in England U20s squad
By Mark Stevens
Three Exeter Chiefs players have been named in the 32-man England Under-20s Elite Player Squad for the 2018/19 season.
Forwards Marcus Street and Richard Capstick, together with scrum-half Sam Maunder, will meet at Bisham Abbey on Sunday for a week-long training camp, before coming together again on 27 January ahead of their 2019 U20s Six Nations Championship opener.
The squad, which will compete in the 2019 Six Nations as well as the World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina, will be led by Steve Bates and Jim Mallinder as well as fellow coaches Mark Hopley, James Scaysbrook and Richard Whiffin.
Hopley, Scaysbrook and Whiffin join for the season as part of the latest coach development programme agreement between England Rugby and Premiership Rugby.
Of the 32 players, 14 have been capped at U20 level previously with 10 playing in last year's final of the World Rugby U20 Championship in France.
England U20s open their Six Nations campaign against Ireland at the Irish Independent Park in Cork on Friday 1 February (KO 19.15 GMT).
The side then take on France on Saturday, 9 February at Sandy Park (KO 12.05 GMT), home of Exeter Chiefs, live on Sky Sports.
The U20s next head to the ZipWorld Stadium, Colwyn Bay to face Wales on Friday, 22 February (KO 19.05 GMT), live on S4C, before a second home fixture of the tournament with the side playing against Italy on Friday, 8 March at Bedford Blues’ Goldington Road (19.45 GMT), live on Sky Sports.
Their final fixture of the Six Nations will be against Scotland on Friday, 15 March at Northampton Saints’ Franklin’s Gardens (19.45 GMT), live on Sky Sports.
The 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship will be held in May/June.
Head coach Steve Bates said: “Selecting the 32-player squad was a very difficult task which reflects the quality of the group. We have several players with Premiership experience and that speaks volumes of how good they are. The expectation for us now is to raise the standard and quality of performance from last season’s group and for the players to continue to develop in this environment.
“We used close to 40 players in last year’s Six Nations, there will always be injuries and those outside of the 32 will still be required so my message to them is to stay fit, stay interested and to continue playing well.
“One of the big things about U20s rugby is that we want the players to drive the game and environment we create. These are the best players at their age and we want them to perform like it on and off the pitch.
“The wider group will meet on Sunday and during the week we need to set some parameters around how we want to play, for the players to continue to get to know each other on and off the pitch so it becomes instinctive when they play, as well as to develop our set piece and defensive organisation.”
Ollie Adkins (Gloucester), Josh Basham (Durham University), Will Capon (Bristol Bears), Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs), Alex Coles (Northampton Saints), Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks), James Dun (Bristol Bears), Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester), Joel Kpoku (Saracens), Samson Ma'asi (Northampton Saints), Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors), James Scott (Worcester Warriors), Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Willis (Wasps).
Tom De Glanville (Bath), Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks), Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie), Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers), Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish), Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons), Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors), Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs), Cadan Murley (Harlequins), Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks), Arron Reed (Sale Sharks), Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Gus Warr (Sale Sharks), Kieran Wilkinson (Sale Sharks).
ENGLAND UNDER-20s SIX NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES
Ireland v England
Friday 1 February, KO 19.15 GMT
Irish Independent Park, Cork
Wales v England
Friday, 22 February, KO 19.05 GMT – live on S4C
ZipWorld Stadium, Colwyn Bay.
England v Italy
Friday, 8 March, KO 19.45 – live on Sky Sports
Goldington Road, Bedford.
England v Scotland
Friday, 15 March, KO 19.45 – live on Sky Sports
Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton.