England men’s U20 head coach Alan Dickens has named his 26-man squad to face France in the first round of the U20 Six Nations on Saturday.
Due to COVID-19 regulations teams are permitted to name a squad of 26 players for each fixture in this year’s competition, this means that there are now 11 replacements available for use during a match.
Jack van Poortvliet, one of five players in the match day squad returning for a second U20 Six Nations Championship, will captain the side from scrum half. Tight-head prop Luke Green and Number 8 Jack Clement also feature in a second Six Nations for England.
12 players in the starting line-up are making their U20 debut. Hooker Archie Vanes and loose-head prop Lewis Holsey join the previously-capped Green in the front row. Ewan Richards and Alex Groves are named in partnership in the second row.
Freddie Thomas starts at blind-side flanker with Lucas Brooke at openside. Fin Smith will play fly half.
Dan Lancaster, the son of former England coach Stuart, starts at inside centre with Jack Bates his midfield partner. The back three sees Orlando Bailey at full-back with Arthur Relton and Deago Bailey on the wings.
Among the replacements hooker Sam Riley and tight-head prop Harvey Beaton have previous Six Nations experience. There are nine players in the expanded 11-man bench who could be in line to win their first England U20 cap: prop Phil Brantingham, second rows Arthur Clark and Emeka Ilione, back row Nahum Merigan, fly half Tommy Mathews as well as centres Louis Hillman-Cooper and Tom Litchfield.
With Sale Sharks' pair Raffi Quirke and Tom Roebuck yet to join up with the squad, Tom Carr-Smith (scrum-half) and Phil Cokanasiga (wing) have been brought in as cover and are both named among the replacements.
Dickens said: “We’ve had a really good training week and the attitude and commitment from the lads has been outstanding.
“On Tuesday we were able to have a joint session with Eddie Jones and the senior team. It was fantastic to be able to incorporate that into our preparation for the Six Nations, but also for players to experience what it’s like at the next level.
“France are a quality side and will be a challenge. We need to be ready for what will no doubt be a physical encounter.
“This week the focus has been on us and what we can control. That said, we will need to have the ability to tactically adapt within the game situation.
“I also want the players to go out there and enjoy the experience. For many of them it’s their first Six Nations and that will be a very special moment that I want them to remember on Saturday night.
“We’re looking forward to getting out on pitch at Cardiff Arms Park now, putting in an 80-minute performance and kicking off our Six Nations campaign.”
England U20 starting XV
15 Orlando Bailey (Bath Rugby)
14 Deago Bailey (Bristol Rugby)
13 Jack Bates (Bristol Rugby)
12 Dan Lancaster (Leeds Tykes)
11 Arthur Relton (Exeter Chiefs)
10 Fin Smith (Worcester Warriors)
9 Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers)*
1 Lewis Holsey (Worcester Warriors)
2 Archie Vanes (Leicester Tigers)
3 Luke Green (London Irish)*
4 Ewan Richards (Bath Rugby)
5 Alex Groves (Bristol Bears)
6 Freddie Thomas (Gloucester Rugby)
7 Lucas Brooke (London Irish)
8 Jack Clement (Gloucester Rugby)*
16 Sam Riley (Harlequins)*
17 Phil Brantingham (Newcastle Falcons)
18 Harvey Beaton (Saracens)*
19 Arthur Clark (Gloucester Rugby)
20 Emeka Ilione (Leicester Tigers)
21 Nahum Merigan (Bath Rugby)
22 Tom Carr-Smith (Bath Rugby)
23 Tommy Mathews (unattached)
24 Phil Cokanasiga (London Irish)
25 Louis Hillman-Cooper (Gloucester Rugby)
26 Tom Litchfield (Northampton Saints)