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Groves and Bates to face Ireland in U20 Six Nations

Alex Groves and Jack Bates have been named in Alan Dickens’ England U20 side to play Ireland on Thursday in the third round of the U20 Six Nations (KO 8pm BST LIVE on EnglandRugby.com, England Rugby Facebook, Six Nations Rugby YouTube channel and S4C Clic).

There are four changes to the starting line-up from England’s bonus point, 31-12 win against Scotland last week.
 
Charlie Atkinson (full back), Tom Litchfield (wing), Arthur Clark (second row) and Nahum Merigan (number 8) all make their first starts of this year’s competition.
 
There are also two positional changes, with Ewan Richards moving to blind-side flanker and Jack Clement completing the back row at openside. Jack van Poortvliet continues to captain the side from scrum half.
 
There are six changes among the replacements with Archie Vanes and Freddie Thomas returning to the match day squad and Orlando Bailey featuring after having started the first two matches.
 
Ollie Stonham could potentially make his U20 Six Nations debut on Thursday, while Tom Roebuck and Josh Gray are in line for their first Six Nations appearances during the 2021 campaign having both won caps in last year’s competition.
 
Dickens said: “I’ve been pleased with the squad’s preparation for this match. There were areas we knew we could improve on again from the Scotland game and so we’ve worked on that in training this week.
 
“A Six Nations campaign is very much a squad effort so we’ve made some changes across the match day 26 for this fixture.
 
“There’s a lot of competition among the group which is exactly what we want as the players drive each other to be better in every session.
 
“I was pleased with Charlie’s input off the bench last time out and we wanted to give him some more game time this week. We have a few positional changes too with players unavailable for selection due to injury or suspension.
 
“We will be coming up against a strong Ireland side who have also started with two wins to this year’s competition, so we know how tough a challenge it is going to be.
 
“Our performance has been building through the tournament and we’ve been improving with each game. I want to see that again when we take to the pitch on Thursday night.”
 
Teams are permitted to name a squad of 26 players for each fixture in this year’s competition due to Covid-19 regulations. Eight of the 11 replacements named in a squad can be used during the match.

 
England U20 starting XV  
15 Charlie Atkinson (Wasps)
14 Tom Litchfield (Northampton Saints)
13 Jack Bates (Bristol Bears)
12 Dan Lancaster (Leeds Tykes)
11 Arthur Relton (Exeter Chiefs)
10 Fin Smith (Worcester Warriors)
9 Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers) Captain
1 Phil Brantingham (Newcastle Falcons)
2 Sam Riley (Harlequins)
3 Harvey Kindell-Beaton (Saracens)
4 Arthur Clark (Gloucester Rugby)
5 Alex Groves (Bristol Bears)
6 Ewan Richards (Bath Rugby)
7 Jack Clement (Gloucester Rugby)
8 Nahum Merigan (Bath Rugby)
 
Replacements
16 Archie Vanes (Leicester Tigers)
17 Tarek Haffar (London Irish)
18 Luke Green (London Irish)
19 Freddie Thomas (Gloucester Rugby)
20 Ollie Stonham (Saracens)
21 Josh Gray (Gloucester Rugby)
22 Tom Carr-Smith (Bath Rugby)
23 Tommy Mathews (Hartpury University RFC)
24 Phil Cokanasiga (London Irish)
25 Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks)
26 Orlando Bailey (Bath Rugby)
 
England men’s U20 Six Nations results and fixtures (all at Cardiff Arms Park)

ENGLAND (3) 38
Tries: Brooke, Riley 2, O. Bailey, Relton Cons: Smith 5 Pens: Smith 
FRANCE (19) 22
Tries: Eppe 3 Cons: Debaes 2 Pens: Debaes 
 
ENGLAND (19) 31
Tries: Van Poortvliet, Smith, D. Bailey, Riley, Relton Cons: Smith 3 
SCOTLAND (5) 12
Tries: Townsend, Leatherbarrow Con: Scott  

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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