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Bates, Bailey and Groves to start England U20 Six Nations opener

Jack Bates, Alex Groves and Deago Bailey will all start England men’s U20s Six Nations opener against France on Saturday (KO 5pm, live on BBC iPlayer).

Bates lines up at outside centre, with Bailey on the wing, while Groves packs down in the second row at Cardiff Arms Park.

Due to COVID-19 regulations, England men’s U20 head coach Alan Dickens has named a 26-man squad, meaning there are now 11 replacements available for use during a match.
 
Jack van Poortvliet, one of five players in the match day squad returning for a second U20 Six Nations Championship, will captain the side from scrum half.
 
Tight-head prop Luke Green and Number 8 Jack Clement also feature in a second Six Nations for England. 12 players in the starting line-up are making their U20 debut.
 
Hooker Archie Vanes and loose-head prop Lewis Holsey join the previously-capped Green in the front row. Ewan Richards and Alex Groves are named in partnership in the second row.
 
Freddie Thomas starts at blind-side flanker with Lucas Brooke at openside. Fin Smith will play fly half.
 
Dan Lancaster (inside) and Jack Bates (outside) pair up in the centres, while the back three sees Orlando Bailey at full back with Arthur Relton and Deago Bailey on the wings.
 
Among the replacements hooker Sam Riley and tight-head prop Harvey Beaton have previous Six Nations experience.

There are nine players in the expanded 11-man bench who could be in line to win their first England U20 cap: prop Phil Brantingham, second rows Arthur Clark and Emeka Ilione, back row Nahum Merigan, fly half Tommy Mathews as well as centres Louis Hillman-Cooper and Tom Litchfield.

With Sale Sharks' pair Raffi Quirke and Tom Roebuck yet to join up with the squad, Tom Carr-Smith (scrum half) and Phil Cokanasiga (wing) have been brought in as cover and are both named among the replacements.
 
Dickens said: “We’ve had a really good training week and the attitude and commitment from the lads has been outstanding.
 
“On Tuesday we were able to have a joint session with Eddie Jones and the senior team. It was fantastic to be able to incorporate that into our preparation for the Six Nations, but also for players to experience what it’s like at the next level.
 
“France are a quality side and will be a challenge. We need to be ready for what will no doubt be a physical encounter.
 
“This week the focus has been on us and what we can control. That said, we will need to have the ability to tactically adapt within the game situation.

“I also want the players to go out there and enjoy the experience. For many of them it’s their first Six Nations and that will be a very special moment that I want them to remember on Saturday night.
 
“We’re looking forward to getting out on pitch at Cardiff Arms Park now, putting in an 80-minute performance and kicking off our Six Nations campaign.” 
 
England U20 starting XV  
15 Orlando Bailey (Bath Rugby) 
14 Deago Bailey (Bristol Rugby)
13 Jack Bates (Bristol Rugby)
12 Dan Lancaster (Leeds Tykes) 
11 Arthur Relton (Exeter Chiefs)
10 Fin Smith (Worcester Warriors) 
9 Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers)* 
1 Lewis Holsey (Worcester Warriors) 
2 Archie Vanes (Leicester Tigers)
3 Luke Green (London Irish)*
4 Ewan Richards (Bath Rugby)
5 Alex Groves (Bristol Bears)
6 Freddie Thomas (Gloucester Rugby)
7 Lucas Brooke (London Irish)  
8 Jack Clement (Gloucester Rugby)*
 
Replacements       
16 Sam Riley (Harlequins)* 
17 Phil Brantingham (Newcastle Falcons)
18 Harvey Beaton (Saracens)*
19 Arthur Clark (Gloucester Rugby)
20 Emeka Ilione (Leicester Tigers)
21 Nahum Merigan (Bath Rugby)
22 Tom Carr-Smith (Bath Rugby)
23 Tommy Mathews (unattached)
24 Phil Cokanasiga (London Irish)
25 Louis Hillman-Cooper (Gloucester Rugby)
26 Tom Litchfield (Northampton Saints)
 
*Previously capped at U20
 
England men’s U20 Six Nations Fixtures (all at Cardiff Arms Park and LIVE on BBC iPlayer)

Saturday 19 June: England v France, KO 5pm

Friday 25 June: England v Scotland, KO 2pm

Thursday 1 July: Ireland v England, KO 8pm

Wednesday 7 July: Wales v England, KO 8pm

Tuesday 13 July: England v Italy, KO 2pm


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