30 January 2020
Three London Irish players have been named in the England U20 squad for the opening Six Nations fixture this weekend. Ben Donnell and Luke Green start, with Ben Atkins named among the replacements.
The Exiles have been selected by head coach Alan Dickens for their U20 Six Nations Championship opener against France at Stade des Alpes, Grenoble (kick off 8pm GMT).
The starting XV contains nine players who will make their U20s debut, with Richard Capstick, Rusiate Tuima, Sam Maunder, Manu Vunipola, Connor Doherty and Josh Hodge already capped at this level.
Maunder will captain the side from scrum half, while Hodge is also included having been named as an apprentice in Eddie Jones' senior Guinness Six Nations squad.
Wing Gabriel Hamer-Webb will make his first England age-grade appearance, while Emmanuel Iyogun could do likewise as a replacement.
England men U20s are led by Dickens who is supported by James Tirrell (attack) and Alex Codling (forwards).
Alan Dickens said: "There is a huge challenge ahead for us on Saturday against a France side who are back-to-back World Rugby U20 Champions and they will be under pressure to perform in front of their home supporters.
"I've coached teams to play in France before and this will be a great experience for the players. It is usually a hostile atmosphere, they are hugely patriotic when it comes to rugby, and we are expecting no different in Grenoble.
"We need to have the ability to adapt, games of rugby are won by the team that can tactically adapt during the 80 minutes and that has been a big focus for us.
"Ultimately though you always have to go back to why we play rugby and that is for enjoyment and I want the players to remember that on Saturday night. If we enjoy it, get our processes right we will get the result.
"The attitude, skill level and commitment of the players in the time we've had together has been fantastic and I'm looking forward to seeing them put all that hard work into an 80 minute performance on Saturday."
England men U20s team to play France
- James Whitcombe (Leicester Tigers)
- Theo Dan (Saracens)
- Luke Green (London Irish)
- George Hammond (Harlequins)
- Ben Donnell (London Irish)
- JJ Tonks (Northampton Saints)
- Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs)
- Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)
- Sam Maunder – captain (Exeter Chiefs)
- Manu Vunipola (Saracens)
- Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks)
- Max Ojomoh (Bath Rugby)
- Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks)
- Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Bath Rugby)
- Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)
- Ben Atkins (London Irish)
- Emmanuel Iyogun (Northampton Saints)
- Harvey Beaton (Saracens)
- Hugh Tizard (Harlequins)
- Jack Clement (Gloucester Rugby)
- Jack Van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers)
- George Barton (Gloucester Rugby)
- Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)
England men U20s Six Nations fixtures
France v England
Saturday, 1 February, KO 8pm GMT, Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Scotland v England
Friday 7 February, KO 7.30pm GMT, Myreside, Edinburgh
England v Ireland
Friday, 21 February, KO 7.45pm GMT, Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton. Live on Sky Sports
England v Wales
Friday, 6 March, KO 7.45pm GMT, Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester. Live on Sky Sports.
Italy v England
Sunday, 15 March, KO 5.30pm GMT, Payanini Rugby Center, Verona