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The feats of Andy Farrell's squad will be lauded in the years to come but they must now rid themselves of the World Cup hex

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Atkinson in as unbeaten England change 4 for 20s tie with Ireland

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/AFP via Getty Images)

Grand Slam-chasing England have made four changes to their starting line-up for Thursday’s Six Nations U20s clash with Ireland, who are also unbeaten heading into round three of a tournament that is being played entirely in Cardiff.   


Fresh from the 31-12 bonus-point win over Scotland, coach Alan Dickens has now included Charlie Atkinson, Tom Litchfield, Arthur Clark and Nahum Merigan for their first starts in this year’s competition.

There are also two positional changes with Ewan Richards moving to blindside and Jack Clement completing the back row at openside. Jack van Poortvliet continues to captain from scrum-half.

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Maro Itoje on what it is like playing for Saracens
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Maro Itoje on what it is like playing for Saracens

Dickens said: “I have been pleased with the squad’s preparation for this match. There were areas we knew we could improve on again from the Scotland game and so we have worked on that in training this week.

“A Six Nations campaign is very much a squad effort so we have made some changes across the matchday 26 for this fixture. There is a lot of competition among the group which is exactly what we want as the players drive each other to be better in every session.

“I was pleased with Charlie’s input off the bench last time out and we wanted to give him some more game time this week. We have a few positional changes too with players unavailable for selection due to injury or suspension. We will be coming up against a strong Ireland side who have also started with two wins to this year’s competition, so we know how tough a challenge it is going to be.”


ENGLAND U20s (vs Ireland, Thursday)
15. Charlie Atkinson (Wasps)
14. Tom Litchfield (Northampton Saints)
13. Jack Bates (Bristol Bears)
12. Dan Lancaster (Leeds Tykes)
11. Arthur Relton (Exeter Chiefs)
10. Fin Smith (Worcester Warriors)
9. Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers) Captain
1. Phil Brantingham (Newcastle Falcons)
2. Sam Riley (Harlequins)
3. Harvey Kindell-Beaton (Saracens)
4. Arthur Clark (Gloucester Rugby)
5. Alex Groves (Bristol Bears)
6. Ewan Richards (Bath Rugby)
7. Jack Clement (Gloucester Rugby)
8. Nahum Merigan (Bath Rugby)

16. Archie Vanes (Leicester Tigers)
17. Tarek Haffar (London Irish)
18. Luke Green (London Irish)
19. Freddie Thomas (Gloucester Rugby)
20. Ollie Stonham (Saracens)
21. Josh Gray (Gloucester Rugby)
22. Tom Carr-Smith (Bath Rugby)
23. Tommy Mathews (Hartpury University RFC)
24. Phil Cokanasiga (London Irish)
25. Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks)
26. Orlando Bailey (Bath Rugby)


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