England U20s head coach Steve Bates has named his 28-man squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship (30 May – 17 June).
England meet Argentina in Narbonne (30 May, 5.30 KO BST), Italy (3 June, 3.30 KO BST) in Perpignan and Scotland (7 June, 8pm KO BST) in Pool B at Beziers' Stade de la Méditerranée.
Narbonne and Perpignan will host the semi-finals and ranking play-offs on 12 June, with Beziers hosting all finals day matches on 17 June across two pitches.
The squad includes eight players who were involved at last year’s tournament in Georgia where England were beaten by New Zealand in the final with Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby), Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby), Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby), James Grayson (Northampton Saints), Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), Tom Parton (London Irish), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins) and Ali Crossdale (Saracens) playing in their second World Rugby U20 Championship.
The squad also includes several players with Premiership experience, including Grayson, Butler, Ibitoye as well prop Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints), back-row forwards Josh Basham (London Irish), Tom Willis (Wasps), Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), scrum-half Ben White (Leicester Tigers), fly-half Marcus Smith (Harlequins), wing Ben Loader (London Irish) as well as full back Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers).
Loader and Smith were also named in the pre-Barbarians training squad, while Curry toured Argentina with the senior team last summer.
Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), Dino Lamb (Harlequins) and Sam Moore (Sale Sharks) are unavailable through injury while Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Ben Earl (Saracens) and Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks) who are eligible for the tournament have been named in the senior squad for the three-Test series in South Africa.
England U20s have reached the final in five consecutive years, winning three (2013, 2014, 2016) and since 2008 they have reached eight out of the 10 finals.
“Selection has been incredibly difficult as there were a lot of players to choose from and in some positions it’s been a really tight call," said Bates.
“We saw real glimpses of what this team is capable of during the Six Nations, and I was proud of the way they performed.
“The challenge for us now is to consistently play high-intensity, high-tempo rugby and to turn up the heat on our opposition for the full 80 minutes.
The U20s are led by Bates, with support from Anthony Allen (backs), Richard Blaze (forwards), James Ponton (defence) as part of the coach development agreement between the RFU and PRL.
Bates added: “The World Rugby U20 Championship is a fantastic tournament and for some this will be the pinnacle of their international careers. Some will go on to be very good professionals but not all will play international rugby again so they should look at this as a fantastic opportunity to play on the world stage and showcase their ability while representing England.
“The message going into this tournament is we are expecting much more of the players as individuals and a team and although we have a proud history in this tournament, we want to leave our own legacy.”
England U20s squad for 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship:
Josh Basham (London Irish)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks)
Beck Cutting (Worcester Warriors)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby)
Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby)
Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers)
Gabriel Oghre (Wasps)
Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints)
James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby)
Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints)
Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby)
Tom Willis (Wasps)
Rory Brand (London Irish)
Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
Ali Crossdale (Saracens)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)
James Grayson (Northampton Saints)
Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)
Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
Ben Loader (London Irish)
Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Parton (London Irish)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
Ben White (Leicester Tigers)
Unavailable through injury:
Dino Lamb (Harlequins)
Sam Moore (Sale Sharks)
Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
Unavailable as named in senior squad:
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)
Ben Earl (Saracens)
Nick Isiekwe (Saracens)
Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks)
England U20 fixtures:
England v Argentina
Wednesday 30 May, 5.30 KO BST – highlights on ITV Sport 00:00
Stade d'Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l'Amitié, Narbonne
Tickets available, here
England v Italy
Sunday 3 June, 3.30 KO BST - highlights on ITV Sport 23:00
Stade Aimé Giral, Perpignan
Tickets available, here
England v Scotland
Thursday 7 June, 8pm KO BST – highlights on ITV Sport 00:00
Stade de la Méditerranée, Beziers
Tickets available, here
Semi-finals and ranking play-offs
Narbonne and Perpignan, 12 June
Beziers, 17 June