England U20 name side for Ireland clash

England Under 20 have made four changes to their starting line-up as they aim for a Six Nations Grand Slam against Ireland at Donnybrook Stadium on Friday (6:00pm kick off).

Sam Aspland-Robinson, Tom Curry and Nick Isiekwe return to the side after missing the 33-5 victory over Scotland last week while Gloucester hooker Henry Walker earns his first start.

18-year old Sale Sharks twins Tom and Ben Curry start together for the first time for England U20, taking their place in the back row alongside captain Zach Mercer. 

Worcester Warriors forwards Joseph Morris and Justin Clegg also return and are among the replacements.

"We have been working hard on making sure the players concentrate on how they perform and don’t focus too much on the occasion," said England U20 coach Ian Vass.

"It’s important we prepare ourselves mentally and physically like we have previously in the tournament and hopefully the result will take care of itself.

“Scotland was a stern test for us but we came through it positively and we know facing Ireland on St Patrick’s Day will be another massive challenge.”

The match, broadcast live on Sky Sports Mix, will see England aiming to win their first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2011 and is part of a double-header at Donnybrook with England Women also vying to secure the Grand Slam in their fixture against Ireland (8:00pm kick off).  

Key stats and facts

  • Ireland’s six match winning run in the U20 Six Nations ended against Wales at Colwyn Bay in round four.
  • Ireland have scored exactly 27 points with three tries, three conversions and two penalties, in each of the last three rounds.
  • Ireland U20 have won their last three games at Donnybrook since Wales won there in round one last year.
  • England have already secured their sixth U20 Six Nations Championship but are going for their first Grand Slam since 2011.
  • England U20s have recorded four maximum point victories in their 2017 Six Nations campaign so far, extending their winning run to nine games at this level.
  • England have had three previous opportunities to win an U20 Grand Slam and have won their decisive round 5 encounter every time.
  • England’s only defeat in their last five fixtures with Ireland was 20-26 at Newcastle in round 3 last year. The two then went on to meet in the final of the U20 World Championship in Manchester in June with England victorious 45-21.
  • Ireland have faced an opponent going for a Grand Slam in round 5 three times before and lost them all – to England in 2008 & 2011 and to France in 2014.

England U20 team to face Ireland U20:
15. Tom Parton (London Irish), 14. Joe Cokanasiga (London Irish), 13. Dominic Morris (Saracens), 12. Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 11. Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins), 10. Max Malins (Saracens), 9. Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby), 1. Ollie Dawe (Bristol Rugby), 2. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby), 3. Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby), 4. Jack Nay (Saracens), 5. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), 6. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), 7. Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), 8. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) captain.

16. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), 17. Ralph Adams-Hale (Saracens), 18. Joseph Morris (Worcester Warriors), 19. Justin Clegg (Worcester Warriors), 20. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby), 21. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints), 22. Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish), 23. Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie).

England U20’s 2017 Six Nations fixtures:
England 59 - 17 France: Saturday 4th February – Sandy Park, Exeter
Wales 21 - 37 England: Friday 10th February – Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay
England 46 - 0 Italy: Friday 24th February – Darlington Mowden Park
England 33 - 5 Scotland: Saturday 11th March – Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton
Ireland v England: Friday 17th March – Donnybrook Stadium, (6:00pm KO)