England men U20s head coach Alan Dickens has named his 32-man Elite Player Squad for the 2020 campaign.
The squad includes eight players already capped at U20s level, with Alfie Barbeary, Richard Capstick, Rusiate Tuima, Sam Maunder, Manu Vunipola, Ollie Sleightholme, Connor Doherty and Josh Hodge returning for a second year.
Of the 32 players, only three have not played for England, with Sam Crean (Saracens), Noah Heward (Worcester Warriors) and Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Bath Rugby) yet to represent their country at age-grade level.
The squad will compete in the U20 Six Nations Championship which begins next month, as well as in this summer’s World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy.
England U20s are led by Dickens and his side will open their Six Nations campaign against France in Grenoble, on Saturday 1 February (KO 20:00 GMT).
The squad will convene at Bisham Abbey national sports centre on Sunday 5 January as they continue their preparations for that first Six Nations fixture.
England’s player pathway programme is a vital development tool for future full international rugby.
Of the 31 players selected in England’s 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, 81% played for England U20s, 77% for England U18s, while 87% came through a club academy.
Alan Dickens said: “Players have been selected through a combination of their performances last year and displays in domestic and European competitions this season. It’s been encouraging to see a number of the group playing Premiership, Champions Cup and Challenge Cup rugby and I believe we’ve selected a really strong 32 for our elite player squad. We also have a wider squad that we know will contribute and be crucial during the Six Nations as well as the World Rugby U20 Championship and my message to those players not in the 32 would be to stay fit and engaged with everything we are doing.
“I want to see the players arrive in camp on Sunday with a desire to learn, improve and take in a high level of detail. We have less than a month to bond as a squad before our first Six Nations fixture so getting them to gel will be a key challenge for the players as well as management team. I also want players to enjoy themselves. Being selected for England at any level is a proud moment in their careers and they should remember that. Hopefully, this is the next step in their ultimate dream of playing for the senior side.
“Some of this group will have experienced the Six Nations last year and know how special a competition it is, with fixtures against some of England’s great rivals. Crucially though, it prepares them for what they will experience as and when they make the next step into the senior side so it is a critical phase in their development as an England player. These players need to be aware that next step is not too far away and relish this opportunity.
“We’ve had our first camp in November which was a really positive experience. It was made even more positive for the players when Eddie Jones was able to come in and deliver a session and that had a really powerful impact on them. This is a stepping stone to senior international rugby and we continue our preparations in a few days’ time.”
Alfie Barbeary (Wasps Rugby)
Harvey Beaton (Saracens)
Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs)
Jack Clement (Gloucester Rugby)
Sam Crean (Saracens)
Theodore Dan (Saracens)
Ben Donnell (London Irish)
Rob Farrar (Newcastle Falcons)
Josh Gray (Gloucester Rugby)
Luke Green (London Irish)
George Martin (Leicester Tigers)
Nahum Merigan (Bath Rugby)
Hugh Tizard (Harlequins)
JJ Tonks (Northampton Saints)
Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)
James Whitcombe (Leicester Tigers)
George Barton (Gloucester Rugby)
Joe Carpenter (Sale Sharks)
Tom Curtis (Sale Sharks)
Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks)
Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Bath Rugby)
Will Haydon-Wood (Newcastle Falcons)
Noah Heward (Worcester Warriors)
Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)
Max Ojomoh (Bath Rugby)
Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs)
Raphael Quirke (Sale Sharks)
Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks)
Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)
Jack Van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers)
Manu Vunipola (Saracens)
England men U20s Six Nations fixtures
France v England
Saturday, 1 February, KO 8pm GMT, Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Scotland v England
Friday 7 February, KO 7.30pm GMT, Myreside, Edinburgh
England v Ireland
Friday, 21 February, KO 7.45pm GMT, Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton. For media accreditation please contact: Jack Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Live on Sky Sports
England v Wales
Friday, 6 March, KO 7.45pm GMT, Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester. For media accreditation please contact: Duncan Wood (email@example.com)
Live on Sky Sports
Italy v England
Sunday, 15 March, KO 5.30pm GMT, Payanini Rugby Center, Verona