England U18s have named their side to face France in their opening game of the summer development tour of South Africa (6-21 August).
England’s fixtures in South Africa for the ‘U19 International Series’ see them play France on 11 August (1.15pm BST), Wales (15 August 1.15pm BST) and SA schools (19 August 1 pm BST).
Sam Moore leads the team from No 8 while wing Ollie Hassell-Collins and center Sam Spink both win their first caps for the side. Tom de Glanville is set to do likewise from the replacements bench.
“Everyone is going to get a start in the first two games, that is what we do on this tour and throughout the season – everyone gets an opportunity to play,” said head coach, John Fletcher.
“I’m pretty keen to get those guys that haven’t played before on the pitch and get them into games as fast as we can.”
Tom Rowland, Will Capon, and Joe Heyes make up the front row with Joe Tunney and James Scott packing down in the second row. Tom Willis and Aaron Hinkley join Moore in the back row.
Will Porter and Kieran Wilkinson are England’s half backs while Fraser Dingwall joins Spink in the midfield. Arron Reed plays on the opposite wing to Hassell-Collins with Nick David starting at full-back.
Led by Fletcher, along with coaches Russell Earnshaw, Mark Luffman and Peter Walton, England U18s have enjoyed an impressive season so far, most recently winning all of their games in April’s International Series in Wales.
However, Fletcher says he is expecting a stern test from France on Friday.
“France will be a significant challenge, we try and play them as much as possible as they are the benchmark from a northern hemisphere point of view,” added Fletcher.
“Physically their boys tend to mature early and they are unpredictable in attack and defense so we are expecting a tough match.”
England landed in Cape Town on Monday before traveling to their training base in Stellenbosch and the squad has been put through their paces ahead of Friday’s opener, having last played together in April.
“We want to play based on our principals in defense and attack as well as bring to life the CARDS skills and improve on the last time we played,” said Fletcher.
“That will be a challenge because the last time we played we had a reasonable amount of time together over the course of the festival in Wales. We do have a lot of changes in the squad, some guys are making their first appearance at this level and we have some guys that are Under 17 as well, so it’s going to be a great opportunity for everyone.”
England U18 team to face France:
Nick David (Worcester Warriors & Warwick), Arron Reed (Sale Sharks & Kirkham Grammar), Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints & Bedford School), Sam Spink (Wasps & Wellington College), Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish & St Pauls), Kieran Wilkinson (Sale Sharks & Kirkham Grammar), Will Porter (Wasps & Merchant Taylors), Sam Moore (Sale Sharks & Sedbergh School), Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester & St Peters), Tom Willis (Wasps & Henley College), James Scott (Worcester Warriors & Malvern College), Joe Tunney (Wasps & Dr Challoner’s), Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers & Wyggeston & QEI College), Will Capon (Bristol & Bristol Grammar), Tom Rowland (Bristol & Bristol Grammar).
Replacements: George Head (Harlequins & Tonbridge School), Beck Cutting (Worcester Warriors & Bromsgrove), Nick Rigby (Worcester Warriors & Warwick), Josh Basham (London Irish & Wellington College), Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs & Exeter College), Ollie Fox (Yorkshire & New College Pontefract), Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks & Sedbergh), Tom de Glanville (Bath & Beechen Cliff).
Friday 11 August: England U18 v France – Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch (1.15pm BST).
Tuesday 15 August: England U18 v Wales – Paarl Gymnasium, Paarl (1.15pm BST)
Saturday 19 August: England U18 v SA Schools – City Park, Athlone (1 pm BST)