- England Deaf face Wales on Saturday 24 February
- Kick off at 1pm, hosted by Ilkley RFC
- Watch live on EnglandRugby.com
The Broadstreet Cup has eluded the England Deaf men’s rugby team for too long.
An annual fixture against Wales, the match is considered the biggest Test in the deaf rugby calendar but for the last seven years the trophy has been sitting safely on the other side of the Severn Bridge.
“They’re the number one side in the world for a reason,” says England Deaf head coach Sean Fletcher.
Watch live from 12.15 - Saturday, 24 February
“They have won the Broadstreet Cup for seven years in a row and we’re aware of what we are up against this weekend.”
While Wales will once again go into the match confident of retaining the cup, England are better placed than they’ve ever been to win it back off them.
A closely fought 12-23 loss in Pontypridd last year showed the gap is closing between the two sides and England’s historic whitewash over New Zealand in the autumn has given Fletcher’s team renewed confidence.
“We are a completely different side to who we were 12 months ago,” says Fletcher.
“We have a come a long way since we last met Wales and that series against New Zealand did a huge amount for us as a programme, both on and off the pitch.”
Three new caps will turn out for England on Saturday with the side once again to be captained by forward Luke Cheyne.
“We’ve selected arguably our strongest squad yet, and since we last played them in January 2017, we have unearthed some brilliant talents who we really feel will make the difference,” said Cheyne.
“We were delighted with the level of support we received for the New Zealand series and we can’t wait to perform again in front of a big crowd at Ilkley RFC.”
One to watch
Among the replacements is 17-year-old Sam Kyle-Clay who is set to make his England Deaf debut and Fletcher thinks he will be one to watch.
“Sam is a real prospect, he will be covering the back row for us and is one to look out for. Selection has been very difficult for me but there is a real buzz around the camp and we can’t wait to start."
The day will be made particularly special by England’s team mascot. Charlotte Tait turns 12 on the day of the fixture and will run out alongside the team.
Tait, who is profoundly deaf, was invited to become the mascot by England fly-half George Ford at the side’s open training session last week.
Charlotte Tait - Is the mascot for England Deaf v @WalesDeafRugby at @IlkleyRugby on Saturday 24/2/2018 she received her official invitation from her favourite @EnglandRugby player @George_Fordy #silentrugby pic.twitter.com/pATZRbstTd— England Deaf Rugby (@deafrugby) February 20, 2018
England Deaf side to face Wales
15 Jack Hadcock, 14 Tom Walker, 13 Dave Martin, 12 Sam Eydmann (debut), 11 Rory Fisher, 10 Henry Peuble, 9 Danny Rowland (vice captain), 8 Craig Orrick, 7 Luke Cheyne (captain), 6 Rob Shaw, 5 Barney Reed, 4 Ivan Fellowes, 3 Peter Altham, 2 Josh Page, 1 Kevin Osborne
Subs: Aaron Beesley, Corey Beck (debut), Josh Sprules, Sam Kyle-Clay (debut), Cameron Roberts, Luke Nelson, Max Thorne Jake Huggett