3 January 2018
London Irish Senior Academy players Josh Basham, Rory Brand, Tom Parton, Ben Loader and Matt Williams have all been named in the England Under-20s 32-man Elite Player Squad for the 2017/18 season.
The squad, which will compete in the 2018 Six Nations as well as the World Rugby U20 Championship in May, will be led by Steve Bates and fellow coaches Anthony Allen, Richard Blaze and James Ponton.
London Irish academy manager Patrick O’Grady said: “As a club, we are extremely proud to have five senior academy players in the England Under-20 squad. Their dedication and hard work has been rewarded with selection in the squad and we wish them well as they prepare to represent their country in the coming year.”
Of the 32 players selected, 14 have already been capped at under-20 level with several a part of last season’s Grand Slam winning side.
The squad includes 10 members of the group that reached the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia, eventually losing to New Zealand, including London Irish’s Tom Parton, Alex Seville, Marcus Street, Henry Walker, Dino Lamb, Ben Earl, James Grayson, Will Butler, Gabriel Ibitoye and Ali Crossdale.
Ben Curry, who was part of England’s senior squad that toured Argentina in the summer, is also named in the 32.
Eight members of the England U18 squad that toured South Africa in the summer have been selected with Exile Josh Basham, Joe Heyes, Beck Cutting, James Scott, Sam Moore, Tom Willis, Tom Seabrook and Fraser Dingwall all included.
Marcus Smith, Nick Isiekwe and currently injured Tom Curry, who are all still eligible to play for the U20s, are not included due to their involvement with the England senior squad.
England open their U20 Six Nations campaign against Italy on 2 February before a home game against Wales in Newcastle on 9 February.
They then play Scotland in Edinburgh on 23 February, France in Beziers on 9 March and will end their campaign against Ireland at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on 16 March.
The squad will come together for a training camp at Bisham Abbey Sports Centre from 7 to 12 January before the Six Nations begins.
Anthony Allen, Richard Blaze and James Ponton have joined the U20 set up as part of the coach development programme agreement signed between the RFU and Premiership Rugby.
England U20 EPS Squad 2017/18
Josh Basham (London Irish)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks)
Beck Cutting (Worcester Warriors)
Ben Earl (Saracens)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
Dino Lamb (Harlequins)
Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers)
Sam Moore (Sale Sharks)
Joe Morris (Worcester Warriors)
Gabriel Oghre (Wasps)
James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
Alex Seville (Gloucester)
Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints)
Henry Walker (Gloucester)
Tom Willis (Wasps)
Rory Brand (London Irish)
Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
Aaron Chapman (Bristol)
Ali Crossdale (Saracens)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)
James Grayson (Northampton Saints)
Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)
Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
Ben Loader (London Irish)
Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Parton (London Irish)
Tom Seabrook (Gloucester)
Joe Snow (Exeter Chiefs)
Ben White (Leicester Tigers)
Matt Williams (London Irish)
The first game of 2018 will see London Irish’s first ever clash with a Russian team as we welcome Krasny Yar to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday 13 January (kick-off 3pm)! Under 13s are just £1 throughout the stadium and adult tickets are on sale from £18 if you book in advance by calling the Ticket Office on 0118 968 1016 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to noon) or online at www.lidirect.co.uk.