The England U20s added some impetus to their season last month when they emphatically beat their South African counterparts, 35-8, at Butts Park Arena in Coventry.
Despite having a strong pool of talent to pick from this season, England struggled to pull together players from a number of different clubs and get them firing consistently throughout the tournament, whilst they also suffered from a number of players being retained by their clubs for Gallagher Premiership duty.
The performance against South Africa was a far more cohesive display and will have given head coach Steven Bates plenty of headaches ahead of the 28-man squad announced today.
Up front, U18 sensation Alfie Barbeary has booked himself a place alongside fellow hookers Samson Ma’asi and Nic Dolly, whilst Bates has also opted for three tighthead props, with Marcus Street, Joe Heyes and Alfie Petch all heading out to Argentina later this month.
England senior international Ted Hill is included, as is Harlequins regular Marcus Smith and fast-rising Saracens lock Joel Kpoku. All three were involved in the World Rugby U20 Championship last season and are joined by fellow veterans Josh Basham, Aaron Hinkley, Tom Willis and Fraser Dingwall.
Sale Sharks‘ Cameron Redpath is also included, with an ACL rupture having denied him a shot at a senior England cap last summer, whilst other Premiership contributors such as Richard Capstick, Tom Seabrook, Arron Reed, Sam Maunder and Alex Coles are all included.
Among the players ruled out through injury are Ollie Lawrence and Cadan Murley, both of whom have been making an impact in the Premiership this season with Worcester Warriors and Harlequins respectively.
“Choosing 28 players from the 45 we have capped this season has been incredibly tough, so it’s a pretty good achievement for these players to be selected for the tournament and they should be incredibly proud of their inclusion,” said Bates.
“The U20 Championship gives them a chance to pit themselves against the best players in the world at their own age group in an international competition before heading into senior rugby, so is an important stage in their development.
“For a lot of these players it will be a unique experience to go to Argentina and play in a tournament of this stature and I know they will be relishing the challenge. They are very lucky to be representing England and will be looking to do their country proud and continue our successful history in the competition.
“We were slightly disappointed with our consistency during the Six Nations and we know we have a lot of work to do, but we have a very good and experienced group of players and if we can keep them fit then we feel we are going to be very competitive in Argentina.”
England U20s squad: Olly Adkins (Gloucester Rugby), Alfie Barbeary (Wasps) – Bloxham School, Josh Basham (Newcastle Falcons), Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs), Alex Coles (Northampton Saints), Tom de Glanville (Bath Rugby), Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks), Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks), Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie), Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby), Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons), Joel Kpoku (Saracens), Samson Ma’asi (Northampton Saints), Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs), Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors), Alfie Petch (Exeter Chiefs), Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks), Arron Reed (Sale Sharks), Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby), Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs), Manu Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Willis (Wasps).
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