London Irish academy second-row Ben Donnell has been named in the England Under-18s squad ahead of the 2018 Six Nations Festival, further evidence of the club’s track record in developing youth.

Donnell, 17, made his Exiles debut in last autumn’s Anglo-Welsh Cup trip to Gloucester Rugby and has since taken his game to new heights.

The festival based in Wales will see England Under-18s play Scotland at Ystrad Mynach on 31 March (kick-off 12pm ), Italy at Cardiff Arms Park on 4 April (kick-off 12pm) and France at the same venue on 8 April (kick-off 5pm).

The festival will play a vital role in developing England Rugby’s future stars of the game.

“The point of the Six Nations Festival is to provide the players with an elevated experience from their schools and academies and to put them into a different environment against different players,” said England Under-18s head coach John Fletcher.

“We will play against the best players from the six nations countries and the players will learn loads from that experience.

“It also gives the squad an opportunity to play the way that we feel will best prepare them for the England teams of the future. We want our players to make decisions based on what is in front of them and express themselves both sides of the ball.

“There is the opportunity for all the players to get really good learning from the three games and it’s an opportunity for them to train with really good players in an England environment. The experiences they get at the festival will be helpful to their development in the future.”

England U18s squad 


Alfie Barbeary - Wasps (Bloxham School)

Jack Bartlett  - Gloucester Rugby

Ben Donnell - London Irish (Peter Symonds College)

Rob Farrar - Newcastle Falcons (Sedbergh School)

Cal Ford - Sale Sharks (Sandbach School)

Lewis Holsey - Worcester Warriors (Solihull School)

Henri Lavin - Leicester Tigers (Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth)

Ted Leatherbarrow - Sale Sharks (Kirkham Grammar School)

Samson Ma'asi - Northampton Saints (St Josephs)

George Martin - Leicester Tigers (Brooksby Melton College)

Will Montgomery - Newcastle Falcons (Kirkbie Kendal School)

Bevan Rodd - Sale Sharks (Sedbergh School)

JJ Tonks - Gloucester Rugby (Hartpury College)

Rus Tuima - Exeter Chiefs (Exeter College)


Harry Barlow - Harlequins (Cranleigh School)

George Barton - Gloucester Rugby (Dean Close School)

Blake Boyland - Bristol Rugby (SGS College)

Connor Doherty - Sale Sharks (Kirkham Grammar School)

Reece Dunn - Gloucester Rugby (St Peter's High School)

Josh Hodge - Newcastle Falcons (Sedbergh School)

Jacob Morris - Gloucester Rugby (Hartpury College)

Callum Pascoe - Newcastle Falcons (Gosforth Academy)

Jack Reeves - Gloucester Rugby (Hartpury College)

Will Simonds - Wasps (The Henley College)

Ollie Sleightholme - Northampton Saints (Northampton School for Boys)

Manu Vunipola - Saracens (Harrow)

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