England U20s men confirm 2019 Six Nations fixtures
England U20s men have had their fixtures for the 2019 Six Nations Championship confirmed with home fixtures in Exeter, Bedford and Northampton.
The side will begin their campaign against Ireland at the Irish Independent Park in Cork on Friday 1 February (KO 19.15 GMT).
England then take on France on Saturday 9 February at Sandy Park (KO 12.05 GMT), home of Exeter Chiefs, live on Sky Sports.
The U20s next head to the ZipWorld Stadium, Colwyn Bay to face Wales on Friday 22 February (KO 19.05 GMT), live on S4C, before a second home fixture of the tournament with the side playing Italy on Friday 8 March at Bedford Blues’ Goldington Road (19.45 GMT), live on Sky Sports.
Their final fixture of the Six Nations will be against Scotland on Friday 15 March at Northampton Saints’ Franklin’s Gardens (19.45 GMT), live on Sky Sports.
England U20s, who last won the tournament in 2017, finished runners-up to France in this year’s tournament.
The England U20s programme will be led by pathway performance coaches Steve Bates and Jim Mallinder, with Mark Hopley, James Scaysbrook as well as Richard Whiffin joining the management team as part of the latest coach development programme agreement with Premiership Rugby.
Steve Bates said: “This is a really important tournament for the players’ development. They are exposed to a highly-competitive tournament on the international stage, where the intensity of the games and the scrutiny they’re under is different to anything they would have experienced before.
“It also gives them the opportunity to prepare, interact and play with players they don’t know very well and build a cohesive team very quickly. As potential senior internationals it is something they will have to get used to and this tournament is a great introduction to that.
“We also want to continue to develop our game from the World Rugby U20 Championship in June, the final was a fantastic occasion and we played a lot of open, attacking rugby during the tournament.
“Something we learned from the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship in France was the impact of the crowd. It was a fantastic final and an amazing occasion with 18,000 people watching which really raises the level of performance. I’m hoping we get that level of support at Sandy Park from an Exeter following that is renowned for turning out and supporting their club and I hope they will also get behind these young players.
“It’s also beneficial to take these games around the country and Bedford is another place we’re looking forward to playing at.
“To take on Scotland at Franklin’s Gardens in our final fixture will also be a special occasion and it’s nice to end the tournament on home soil in front of our own supporters. That support means so much to the players, it’s a great place to go and watch rugby and I hope as many people as possible come along to cheer the lads on.”
Tony Rowe OBE, chairman & chief executive of Exeter Rugby Club, said: “It’s fantastic that Sandy Park will again be playing host to yet more international rugby this season. Not only we will be welcoming England U20s back to Exeter once again in February, but we will also be staging for the first time the England Women’s side in March.
“Over the years, Sandy Park has proven itself to be a fitting venue for international rugby – including that of the Rugby World Cup in 2015 – and I’ve no doubt the rugby-loving public of the region will once again turn out in force to see these England stars of the future in action.”
Cllr Phil Bialyk, lead councillor for health and wellbeing, communities and sport at Exeter City Council, said: “This is fantastic news for the city. Exeter is fast becoming the brilliant alternative where people can live better and enjoy the quality of life that events like the Six Nations bring right to their doorstep. I for one can’t wait for the first match.”
Bedford Blues Chairman Geoff Irvine said: “We are thrilled to be able to play host to some of the best up-and-coming talent that England and Italy have to offer and I’m sure that we are set for a wonderful evening of rugby. The U20 Six Nations Championship has grown so much over the years and it is an excellent opportunity to see the stars.
“Bedford is an extremely special town for so many reasons, but the fact that we have the largest concentration of Italians in Britain will make this a very special fixture at Goldington Road. The town loves its rugby and is very proud of its Italian heritage, so I’m sure that we can expect plenty of support for both teams on the night.”
Mark Darbon, Northampton Saints chief executive, said: “We are very proud to be hosting England U20s’ final Six Nations fixture against Scotland and look forward to making it a memorable occasion.
“The fierce rivalry between England and Scotland is very special and hopefully we will see a number of Saints Academy players representing both countries.
“We expect this to be a popular fixture to attend with rugby supporters in the region getting the opportunity to experience the magic of the Six Nations Championship on their doorstep.”
England U20 fixtures:
Ireland v England
Friday 1 February, KO 19.15 GMT
Irish Independent Park, Cork
England v France
Saturday 9 February, KO 12.05 GMT – live on Sky Sports
Sandy Park, Exeter. For tickets, please visit: englandrugby.com/tickets
Wales v England
Friday, 22 February, KO TBC – live on S4C
ZipWorld Stadium, Colwyn Bay
England v Italy
Friday, 8 March, KO 19.45 – live on Sky Sports
Goldington Road, Bedford. For tickets, please visit: englandrugby.com/tickets
England v Scotland
Friday, 15 March, KO 19.45 – live on Sky Sports
Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton. For tickets, please visit: englandrugby.com/tickets