The announcement of the England U20 EPS squad brings a set of fresh new faces, tasked with defending the sides Six Nations crown, next month.
The 32-man Elite Player Squad (EPS) contingent, including eight of England’s Under 18 squad that toured South Africa in the summer. This is also the base of the group who will also head to France for the World Championships in May.
England have a proud history of success at age grade level, having won the Six Nations six times and the Junior World Championships on three occasions at Under 20’s level.
England U20 EPS Squad Announced
England’s coaching group, led by Steve Bates, have included a blend of familiar and new faces in the quest to produce the young stars of tomorrow.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) January 3, 2018
With that in mind, Last Word on Rugby’s Aaron Tillyer picks three new faces expected to feature at the tournaments:
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)
18-year old Fraser Dingwall originally represented Scotland and even won a cap against Wales for the U18s last year. But the Northampton Saints academy centre switched his allegiance and subsequently played against his previous countrymen on two seperate occasions.
One of which came during the U18 International Series in 2017. A seven try victory over Scotland wrapped up an unbeaten tournament win.
Dingwall’s four years at Bedford School culminated in an exceptional season last year. The young centre was part of a successful tour of South Africa, with England U18 defeating the France U19 and South Africa schools team, in the three game tour.
With proven experience at international level, Dingwall’s inclusion could prove fruitful in what will be a new, and exciting backline for England.
Ben White (Leicester Tigers)
Leicester Tigers scrum half Ben White became the youngest player in Tigers’ Aviva Premiership history, during the home win over Harlequins in 2016. White was 17 years and 151 days old – the previous record was held by England senior XV’s Ben Youngs.
White played his part in the Tigers’ semi-final and final wins of the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2016/17. The 19-year old having gained invaluable senior experience at Doncaster Knights during the same season.
As well as his experience at England U16 and U17 level, having a mentor as big as Youngs at Leicester will hold him in good stead for his U20 career.
Josh Basham (London Irish)
Second row Josh Basham joined London Irish’s academy at the age of just 15. By the age of 18, Basham was captaining the U18 side and won the Daily Mail Trophy three seasons in a row [with his school].
Not averse to success, the 18-year old helped London Irish lift the Academy League last year. Another young man who has represented England at U16, U17 and U18 levels, the lock-forward was rewarded with a senior academy contract with Irish ahead of the 2017/18 season.
A great lineout option and his physicality at the breakdown makes him a great addition to the squad.
Despite the new faces in the group, the England U20 EPS Squad will be favourites to land the Six Nations title again come March.
The defending champions will open their campaign in Italy (2 February). They then play home game against Wales (9 February), which is then followed by trips to Scotland (23 February)and France (9 March). All before the final tie against Ireland, in Coventry (16 March).
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