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England U20s include nine uncapped players for Georgia tour

By Liam Heagney
England's Lewis Chessum (Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

New England age-grade boss Mark Mapletoft has named a 29-strong U20s squad for the two-match tour to Georgia ahead of next month’s World Cup in South Africa. The head coach, who earned his stripes during his decade working at Harlequins in a variety of roles, took over this week from Alan Dickens having worked as an assistant to the national team U18s since 2020.

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A statement read: “England men’s U20 head coach Mark Mapletoft has named his travelling squad ahead of a two-match tour of Georgia against its U20 side, which is part of England’s preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa next month.

“The 29-player squad will travel to Georgia for the matches on Saturday, May 27, and Thursday, June 1, providing a competitive opportunity for the side to continue to develop ahead of the global tournament.

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“Leicester’s Lewis Chessum captains the squad, which includes nine uncapped England U20 players. However, all have been part of the England Rugby pathways programme which is a vital development tool for future international rugby players: of the 48 men’s players capped for England last year, 42 played England U20.

“The World Rugby U20 Championship will be held for the first time in four years, running from June 24 to July 14, and featuring the top 12 U20 rugby nations. Played over five match days, England are in Pool B where they will face Australia, Ireland and Fiji.”

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Mapletoft said: “Congratulations to all players selected for the tour of Georgia. These two matches will allow us to test ourselves on the road against a physical outfit with a tight turnaround, just like we will face at the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa.”

England men’s U20 squad (*uncapped player)
Forwards (16):

Afolabi Fasogbon (London Irish)
Asher Opoku-Fordjour (Sale Sharks)
Chandler Cunningham-South (London Irish)
Craig Wright (Northampton Saints)*
Ethan Clarke (Harlequins)*
Finn Carnduff (Leicester Tigers)
Finn Theobald-Thomas (Gloucester)
Greg Fisilau (Exeter Chiefs)
Harry Browne (Harlequins)
Harvey Cuckson (Bath Rugby)*
James Halliwell (Bristol Bears)*
Lewis Chessum (Leicester Tigers)
Nathan Jibulu (Harlequins)
Nathan Michelow (Saracens)*
Tristan Woodman (Sale Sharks)
Zach Carr (Harlequins)*

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Backs (13):
Alex Wills (Sale Sharks)*
Benjamin Waghorn (Harlequins)
Cassius Cleaves (Harlequins)
Charlie Bracken (Saracens)
Connor Slevin (Harlequins)*
Jacob Cusick (Leicester Tigers)
Joe Jenkins (Bristol Bears)
Joseph Woodward (Leicester Tigers)
Louie Johnson (Newcastle Falcons)
Nye Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Rekeiti Ma’asi-White (Sale Sharks)
Sam Harris (Bath Rugby)
Toby Thame (Northampton Saints)*

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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FEATURE Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma
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