England U20s side to play Argentina in World Rugby U20 Championship opener
England U20s head coach Steve Bates has named his side for the World Rugby U20 Championship opener against Argentina on Wednesday in Narbonne (17.30 KO BST).
Sale Sharks flanker Ben Curry will captain England and he is joined in the backrow by Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors) and No 8 Josh Basham (London Irish).
The starting XV contains four players who will be appearing at their second World Rugby U20 Championship with hooker Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby), fly-half James Grayson (Northampton Saints), wing Ali Crossdale (Saracens) and full-back Tom Parton (London Irish) all starting the fixture at Stade d'Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l'Amitié.
Walker is joined in the front row by Northampton Saints duo Toby Trinder and Ehren Painter, while Grayson is partnered at half-back by Ben White (Leicester Tigers).
Leicester Tigers wing Jordan Olowofela makes up England’s back three along with Crossdale and Parton.
Among the replacements, prop Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby) and wing Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins) also have experience of the tournament after being part of last year’s squad.
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, including last year in Georgia.
Following Wednesday’s fixture England face Italy (3 June, KO 3.30pm BST) in Perpignan and Scotland (7 June, KO 8pm 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.
Steve Bates said: “We’ve had a really good period of preparation ahead of this tournament with a hugely beneficial fixture against South Africa and a training session with Wales.
“It’s really helped to focus the minds of the players and we’ve seen a further improvement in training ahead of our first match of the championship against Argentina.
“I want to see us play with a bit more patience on Wednesday, I don’t want us to lower our intensity, but if we play as we did during the Six Nations then we have the ability to create a lot of opportunities and we need to be patient in how we execute those chances.
“We know the importance of winning every game in this tournament, and we need to go out on Wednesday with a real intent to get this campaign off to a positive start.
“We have an excellent squad of players, every position is competitive and this is an exciting England team that I’m looking forward to seeing perform on the world stage.
“Ben Curry’s experience of being a Premiership forward is invaluable and he is a very competitive, professional athlete, as well as being a fine player, which makes him a great choice as captain.”
15. Tom Parton (London Irish)
14. Ali Crossdale (Saracens)
13. Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)
12. Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)
11. Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)
10. James Grayson (Northampton Saints)
9. Ben White (Leicester Tigers)
1. Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints)
2. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby)
3. Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints)
4. Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
5. James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
6. Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
7. Ben Curry (Sale Sharks) – captain
8. Josh Basham (London Irish)
16. Beck Cutting (Worcester Warriors)
17. Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby)
18. Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
19. Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers)
20. Tom Willis (Wasps)
21. Rory Brand (London Irish)
22. Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
23. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
England U20 fixtures:
England v Argentina
Wednesday 30 May, KO 5.30pm BST – highlights on ITV Sport 00:00
Stade d'Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l'Amitié, Narbonne
England v Italy
Sunday 3 June, KO 3.30pm BST - highlights on ITV Sport 23:00
Stade Aimé Giral, Perpignan
England v Scotland
Thursday 7 June, KO 8pm BST – highlights on ITV Sport 00:00
Stade de la Méditerranée, Beziers
Semi-finals and ranking play-offs:
Narbonne and Perpignan, 12 June
Beziers, 17 June