- England Counties U18 squad announced
- Play Ireland Clubs twice in April
- Former England Counties U18 player Sam Jones' incredible return to rugby
England Counties U18 have named their 23-man squad for the two match tour of Ireland in April.
Counties play Ireland U18 Clubs on Wednesday, 12 April and again three days later, at Ashbourne RFC.
The final selection process took place last weekend, and team manager David Penberthy, says it was a demanding two days.
“We had two games over the weekend,” he said. “The first was between London & South East and the South West, which was very competitive, and the second was the Midlands against the North.”
Each game was judged irrespective of result and the final 23 was selected following discussion between the management team, coaches and divisional assessors.
The North have the largest representation - with eight players, London & South East boast six, five Midlands men made the cut, as well as four from the South West.
“It was a demanding process; there was a lot of deliverance over certain positions, but we think we have the right balance,” Penberthy added.
“We’re really pleased with the quality of the squad. Their skill levels are there, they play the game really well and it is easy to see they have been coached well by their schools, counties and divisions.”
'The Irish have been tough over the years'
The squad is set to meet on two separate occasions ahead of the trip to Ireland, with the first preparation weekend scheduled for Friday, 10 March.
Penberthy explains the first weekend camp will have a strong emphasis on team building and getting to know each other, as well as sessions that will focus on attack and defence patterns.
“The second weekend will be recapping first,” said Penberthy. “But we’ll be moving towards getting onto the field and into a competitive game environment. We’ll also be playing Leicester Tigers Academy which will be a good opportunity to test ourselves as we step up the intensity ahead of our first match."
Counties lost to Ireland Clubs U18s last year in the final play of the game, and Penberthy says this year’s squad – who are all new faces – will be motivated by the opportunity to play the fixture twice.
“It’ll be tough; the Irish have been tough over the years and I don’t think this year will be any different. It is a wonderful opportunity for these guys, to be selection for England is a fantastic honour."
England Counties U18 squad: Benjamin Atkins (Berkshire/St Pauls Catholic College), Frederik Barnes (Oxfordshire/Cokethorpe School), Oliver Bee (Leicestershire/Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College), Edward Brown (Yorkshire/Queen Ethelburga's), Alexander Burrage (Cheshire/Bishop Heber High), Harry Butler (Yorkshire/Queen Ethelburga's), Jake Clemson (Cornwall/Penwith College), Jack Granby (Lancashire/Runshaw College), Connor Johnson (Lancashire/ Myerscough), Reon Joseph (Middlesex/Ealing Trailfinders), John Kenward (Leicestershire/Princethorpe College), Joseph Lane (Warwickshire/King Henry VIII School), Matthew Law (Lincolnshire/Kings Grammar School Grantham), Paul Marshall (Surrey/Reigate Grammar School), Cameron McDonald (Hampshire/Farnborough College of Technology), Henry Pearson (Lancashire/Kirkham Grammar School), Samuel Pocklington (Yorkshire/Queen Ethelburga’s), William Roberts (Leicestershire/Lutterworth RFC), Alexander Skinner (Surrey/Reigate Grammar School), Sam Stott (Lancashire/Lancaster Royal Grammar School), Cameron Terry (Gloucestershire/Cheltenham College), Hugh Turnbull (Sussex/Eastbourne College), Thomas Wane (Surrey/Eastbourne College).