London Irish academy trio Phil Cokanasiga, Chunya Munga and Fin Rossiter have been named in the England U18 squad for this summer’s Aon U18 International Series in South Africa.
Based at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, England will play fixtures against France on Friday 10 August (kick-off 1.15pm BST), Wales on Tuesday 14 August (kick-off 1.15pm BST) and South Africa Schools on Saturday 18 August (kick-off 1.05pm BST).
To reflect a change in the pathway calendar, the group will be predominately U17s with the tour now marking the start of U18 international season, as well as their England journey.
In turn that will allow pathway coaches maximum contact time with the squad giving players further experience and learning, as well as an opportunity to continue their journey through the international season culminating in the U18 Six Nations festival in April 2019.
It will also allow the majority of U18 players to have a full pre-season with their academy resulting in a more connected journey through the pathway.
The squad includes five players capped at U18 level with Alfie Barbeary (Wasps - Bloxham School), George Barton (Gloucester Rugby - Dean Close School), Tom Curtis (Sale Sharks - Sedbergh School), Callum Pascoe (Newcastle Falcons - Gosforth Academy) and George Martin (Leicester Tigers - Brooksby Melton College) all named for the summer development tour.
The 26-man squad will be coached by Steve Bates and Jim Mallinder, who will be assisted by Mark Luffman and Nick Kennedy.
In June Bates led the U20s to the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship, while Mallinder joined England Rugby in the summer as a pathway performance coach. The pair will work cohesively across both programmes.
Former London Irish director of rugby Kennedy joins specifically for the tour as a consultant, bringing experience of coaching at both academy and senior level. Luffman has worked as a consultant specialist coach in the pathway since 2014.
Dean Ryan, head of international player development said: “This will likely be the first time the players have been away from home for an extended period of time playing an international rugby tournament, so that will challenge them in different ways.
“They will also play three international fixtures in a short space of time, so it’s an important experience for them as they transition through the pathway. For many it will also be their first experience of playing against a southern hemisphere opponent which will be valuable for those that advance into senior international rugby.
“By taking our U17 group we are ensuring our best players are available to tour South Africa. Previously we always felt, along with the clubs, that being U18 in August was an important period for them transitioning from school into senior rugby and the tour did not fit into that window. It also denied U18 players having a full pre-season with their club or alternatively denied us the chance to take our best players on tour.
“The South Africa tour used to be the end of the U18 programme whereas now it’s the start of the journey and allows us to connect the pathway calendar. Those that travel with us to South Africa will be eligible for the U18 spring internationals before having a full pre-season at their clubs in July and August and then continuing their international journey.
“It was important to produce a model that compliments the club scene and fits in with their programme to make the journey through the pathway more seamless.”
Lennox Anyanwu - Harlequins (Christ's Hospital)
George Barton - Gloucester Rugby (Dean Close School)
Jack Bates - Bristol Bears (SGS Filton)
Phil Cokanasiga - London Irish (St Pauls College)
Tom Curtis - Sale Sharks (Sedbergh School)
Josh Gillespie - Northampton Saints (Millfield School)
Josh Hallett - Saracens (New Hall School)
Will Haydon-Wood - Newcastle Falcons (Sedbergh School)
Louis Lynagh - Harlequins (Hampton School)
Callum Pascoe - Newcastle Falcons (Gosforth Academy)
Raphael Quirke - Sale Sharks (St Ambrose College)
Tom Roebuck - Sale Sharks (Wirral Grammar)
Alfie Barbeary - Wasps (Bloxham School)
Harvey Beaton - Saracens (Sutton Valence)
Jack Clement - Gloucester Rugby (Cheltenham College)
Harry Dugmore - Harlequins (Whitgift School)
George Hammond - Harlequins (Whitgift School)
Jack Hughes - Northampton Saints (Uppingham School)
George Martin - Leicester Tigers (Brooksby Melton College)
Nahum Merigan - Bath Rugby (Beechen Cliff School)
Rowan Mullis – Gloucester Rugby (Hartpury College)
Chunya Munga - London Irish (Leighton Park School)
Sam Riley - Harlequins (St George's Weybridge)
Fin Rossiter - London Irish (Wellington College)
Archie Smeaton - Yorkshire Carnegie (Hymers College)
James Whitcombe - Leicester Tigers (Woodhouse Grove)
Aon U18 International Series fixtures:
Friday, 10 August 2018 (at Boland Landbou)
1.15pm BST - England v France
3pm BST - SA Schools v Wales
Tuesday, 14 August 2018 (at Stellenberg)
1.15pm BST - Wales v England
3pm - SA Schools v France
Saturday, 18 August 2018 (at SACS)
11.15am BST - France vs Wales
1.05pm BST - SA Schools vs England