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Title-chasing England U20s change four, include two new starters

By Liam Heagney
Junior Kpoku celebrates an England U20s try versus Ireland (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Mark Mapletoft has named an England side containing four changes for Friday’s Six Nations U20s finale away to France. The English were denied a shot at the Grand Slam by Ireland’s last-gasp, game-levelling converted try at The Rec last Friday.

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That electric match finished 32-all but the draw was still enough to leave England one point clear of the Irish, who host bottom-side Scotland this weekend.

Ireland are expected to win that 7pm kick-off in Cork comfortably and it would mean that the English will have to produce a big result in Pau against the world champions France if they are to jump back into the top spot.

Their match starts an hour later on the night and they are looking to clinch what would be a first championship title since the behind-closed-doors tournament of 2021.

Fixture
U20 Six Nations
France U20
31 - 45
Full-time
England U20
All Stats and Data

Having impressed off the bench at Bath, George Makepeace-Cubitt has been promoted for his first start at out-half with Josh Bellamy dropping to the bench.

The other backline change sees the return of Ioan Jones at full-back with Ben Redshaw switching to the left wing and Alex Wills missing out.

Another first-time starter is James Isaacs, who is chosen as hooker with Jacob Oliver moving to the bench. He is joined there among the replacements by Olamide Sodeke, who has given up his starting pace at lock to Joe Bailey.

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Mapletoft said: “The team are incredibly excited for Friday night. These are the types of fixtures we all want to be part of in rugby and we will savour the opportunity we now have. I have been impressed with the resilient mindset of our team after last week’s result.

“It’s a strong reminder to myself, Andy (Titterrell) and the coaches what a special group we are lucky to possess this year. It was a fantastic crowd last week, and I want to thank all of those who have come out to support us at The Rec.

“The team have worked extremely hard and are intent on leaving their mark on this fixture, and this tournament overall, against what will be one of our biggest challenges yet in Pau.”

England (vs France, Friday)
15. Ioan Jones (Gloucester Rugby, Minchinhampton RFC, 3 caps)
14. Toby Cousins (Northampton Saints, Bugbrooke RFC, 5 caps)
13. Ben Waghorn (Harlequins, Chipstead Rugby Club, 6 caps)
12. Sean Kerr (Harlequins, Effingham and Leatherhead RFC, 3 caps)
11. Ben Redshaw (Newcastle Falcons, West Park Leeds RFC, 4 caps)
10. George Makepeace-Cubitt (Rams RFC, Reading Abbey RFC, 3 caps)
9. Archie McParland (Northampton Saints, Ruthin RFC, 3 caps)
1. Asher Opoku-Fordjour (Sale Sharks, Broadstreet RFC, 13 caps)
2. James Isaacs (Saracens, Hemel Hempstead Camelot RFC, 1 cap)
3. Billy Sela (Bath Rugby, Royal Wootton Bassett RFC, 4 caps)
4. Joe Bailey (Exeter Chiefs, Newton Abbot Rugby Club, 4 caps)
5. Junior Kpoku (Racing 92, Saracens Amateurs, 3 caps)
6. Finn Carnduff (c) (Leicester Tigers, Market Harborough RFC, 14 caps)
7. Henry Pollock (Northampton Saints, Banbury RFC, 4 caps)
8. Nathan Michelow (Saracens, Coopers Company and Coborn School, 9 caps)

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Replacements:
16. Jacob Oliver (Newcastle Falcons, Barnard Castle Rugby Club, 4 caps)
17. Scott Kirk (Bath Rugby, Michaelhouse College, 4 caps)
18. James Halliwell (Bristol Bears, Thornbury Broncos Rugby Club, 8 caps)
19. Olamide Sodeke (Saracens, Blackheath Rugby, 3 caps)
20. Kane James (Exeter Chiefs, St Peters RFC, 3 caps)
21. Ben Douglas (Newcastle Falcons, Northern Football Club, 3 caps)
22. Josh Bellamy (Harlequins, Rosslyn Park, 3 caps)
23. Oli Spencer (Newcastle Falcons, Epping Rams Rugby, 3 caps)

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