17 September 2019
Ben Atkins in England U20s squad to play France
7 February 2019
Ben Atkins has been named in Steve Bates’ England U20s squad to face world champions France in Saturday's Six Nations clash at Exeter Chiefs' Sandy Park (KO 12.05, live on Sky Sports).
England U20s were defeated 35-27 by Ireland in the opening round of the competition despite being ahead at half-time.
There are three changes to face the reigning Six Nations champions on Saturday. Cameron Redpath starts at inside centre in place of Tom Hardwick, Ollie Lawrence is outside of him while Arron Reed will make his England U20s debut on the wing. The side will be captained by full senior international Ted Hill.
Prop Kai Owen is named as a replacement and could make his England age-grade debut, while Tom de Glanville could appear at U20s level for the first time having also been named as a finisher.
England's pack is unchanged as is their half-back combination with both Sam Maunder and Marcus Smith starting the game.
The starting XV includes five players who faced France in the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship in June.
Steve Bates said: “There was a lot of disappointment at the start of the week off the back of Friday’s result but we’ve trained really well and the players are looking forward to getting out there on Saturday and performing in front of a vocal Sandy Park crowd.
“The game against France in the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship will have a little bearing at the weekend but the nature of U20s rugby is that it is ever evolving and players change rapidly so although a portion of our squad would have played in that final our motivation is to kick-start our Six Nations with an important victory.
“We know we didn’t look after the ball well enough last week, played from too deep and lacked a bit of organisation which you would expect from a new group at this stage in the tournament. So we’ve worked hard on our understanding and our team work. We’ve had a good preparation and want to go out and continue to play high-tempo, high-intensity rugby but get the balance right.
“Home advantage will be really important, we’re hoping for a large crowd and we have to get them on our side by playing some good rugby but controlling the game a little bit more. We’ve got to excite that crowd by having confidence to play what we’ve practiced because we feel that’s the best way for these guys to perform and if we do that and do that consistently the crowd will enjoy it.”
15. Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)
14. Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints)
13. Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors)
12. Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks)
11. Arron Reed (Sale Sharks)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
9. Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs)
1. Olly Adkins (Gloucester)
2. Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks)
3. Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
4. Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
5. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints)
6. Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
7. Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester)
8. Tom Willis (Wasps)
16. Ben Atkins (London Irish)
17. Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors)
18. Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
19. James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
20. Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)
21. Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie)
22. Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)
23. Tom de Glanville (Bath Rugby)
England U20 Six Nations fixtures:
Ireland 35-27 England
England v France
Saturday 9 February, KO 12.05 GMT – live on Sky Sports
Sandy Park, Exeter. For tickets, please visit: englandrugby.com/tickets
Wales v England
Friday, 22 February, KO 19.05 GMT – live on S4C
ZipWorld Stadium, Colwyn Bay. For tickets, please visit: wru.wales/tickets
England v Italy
Friday, 8 March, KO 19.45 – live on Sky Sports
Goldington Road, Bedford. For tickets, please visit: englandrugby.com/tickets
England v Scotland
Friday, 15 March, KO 19.45 – live on Sky Sports
Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton. For tickets, please visit: englandrugby.com/tickets