Fresh on the heels of confirming Jonathan Pendlebury and Alan Dickens as England U18 and U20 head coaches respectively, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) have announced a 45-man training squad for the upcoming U20s season.
The 45-man group will convene at Bisham Abbey on Thursday for a three-day camp, in which Dickens will attempt to whittle the group down to a 32-man elite player squad ahead of England’s opening U20 Six Nations fixture against France in Grenoble on February 1st.
Their schedule will mirror that of the senior side, with the team also facing away trips to Edinburgh to take on Scotland and Verona to play Italy, whilst they will host Ireland at Franklin’s Gardens and Wales at Kingsholm. From there, the age-grade side will begin preparations for next summer’s World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy, a tournament they uncharacteristically struggled in earlier this year.
Of the 45-man squad, eight have already featured for the U20s, with the likes of Alfie Barbeary, Ollie Sleightholme, Richard Capstick, Josh Hodge, Sam Maunder, Rus Tuima and Manu Vunipola among those returning for another shot at success. Barbeary, whose talent and prospects have long been talked about, featured for the group as an U18 whilst still at school last season, although his campaign ended in ignominy when he received a red card against Ireland for lifting a player and failing to return him to the ground safely. He will look to banish those memories over the course of his first professional season.
Sleightholme, Capstick, Maunder and Vunipola all bring a fair amount of Gallagher Premiership rugby experience to the mix and will provide leadership to what is a relatively young squad. They are not the only second-year players in the group, however, with the likes of JJ Tonks, Charlie Watson, Hugh Tizard, Barrie Karea and Ben Donnell all involved, despite not having been a part of a capped game in 2019.
The most represented Premiership clubs in the squad are Northampton Saints (6) and Sale Sharks (6), followed closely by Leicester Tigers (5), Saracens (5) and London Irish (5). The only sides with no representation are Bristol Bears and Worcester Warriors.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 27, 2019
The final decision on the 32-man squad will be made in January.
England U20 45-man training squad in full:
Lennox Anyanwu – Harlequins
Alfie Barbeary – Wasps
George Barton – Gloucester
Harvey Beaton – Saracens
Joseph Browning – Leicester Tigers
Richard Capstick – Exeter Chiefs
Joseph Carpenter – Sale Sharks
Jack Clement – Gloucester
Phil Cokanasiga – London Irish
Tom Curtis – Sale Sharks
Theo Dan – Saracens
Connor Doherty – Sale Sharks
Ben Donnell – London Irish
Callum Ford – Sale Sharks
Thomas Freeman – Northampton Saints
Josh Gillespie – Northampton Saints
Josh Gray – Gloucester
Luke Green – London Irish
Gabriel Hamer-Webb – Bath
George Hammond – Harlequins
Will Haydon-Wood – Newcastle Falcons
Josh Hodge – Newcastle Falcons
Emmanuel Iyogun – Northampton Saints
Barrie Karea – Exeter Chiefs
George Martin – Leicester Tigers
Sam Maunder – Exeter Chiefs
Nahum Merigan – Bath
Chunya Munga – London Irish
Zachery Nearchou – Wasps
Oliver Newman – Northampton Saints
Max Ojomoh – Bath
Raphael Quirke – Sale Sharks
Sam Riley – Harlequins
Tom Roebuck- Sale Sharks
Fin Rossiter – London Irish
Oliver Sleightholme – Northampton Saints
Freddie Steward – Leicester Tigers
Oliver Stonham – Saracens
Hugh Tizard – Harlequins
Jarett Tonks – Northampton Saints
Rusitate Tuima – Exeter Chiefs
Jack Van Poortvliet – Leicester Tigers
Manu Vunipola – Saracens
Charlie Watson – Saracens
James Whitcombe – Leicester Tigers
Watch: Attack coach Scott Wisemantel leaves England. Australia up next?
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