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England U20 name side for France

England U20s have named their side for of the opening game of the 2017 Six Nations against France at Sandy Park on Saturday.

Saracens back-row Ben Earl will captain the side which includes five players who won the U20s World Championship last summer.

Sam Aspland-Robinson, Max Malins, Zach Mercer, Harry Randall and Max Wright all return to the side after last summer’s triumph, with 10 players set to make their England U20s debut.

In the front row props Ollie Dawe and Joseph Morris join hooker Joe Mullis while the second-row is an all Saracens affair with Nick Isiekwe partnering Jack Nay.

The back-row is highly experienced with Mercer and Tom Curry having both played Premiership rugby this season and they are joined by skipper Earl who will start at openside.

The half-backs provide more experience at this level with Randall and Malins having amassed 14 England U20 caps between them.

Centers Will Butler and Max Wright have both played first team rugby for their clubs this season.

The back-three is very dangerous with Aspland-Robinson being joined on the wing by London Irish’s exciting prospects Joe Cokanasiga and Tom Parton starting at full-back.

Saturday’s clash against France will also be the first game under the new England U20 coaching structure.

Louis Deacon, Ian Vass and Tom Williams have joined the England U20 management team for the duration of the season as part of a new coach development agreement signed between the RFU and Premiership Rugby.

On the bench is Tana Umaga’s nephew Jacob Umaga who has been impressing at Wasps since his switch from Leicester and Bath back-row forward Josh Bayliss, who captained England U18 on their tour to South Africa last summer.

“All of the starting 15 have previously played at England U18 level so we are aware of the qualities they will bring to the team and the match will be a test of the intensity levels required of them at this level,” said Dean Ryan, head of international player development at the RFU.

England U20s: Tom Parton (London Irish), Joe Cokanasiga (London Irish), Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie), Will Butler (Worcester), Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins); Max Malins (Saracens), Harry Randall (Gloucester); Ollie Dawe (Bristol), Joe Mullis (Gloucester), Joseph Morris (Worcester); Jack Nay (Saracens), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens); Tom Curry (Sale), Ben Earl (Saracens, c), Zach Mercer (Bath)

Replacements: Jamie Blamire (Newcastle), Jake Pope (Sale), Ciaran Knight (Gloucester), Justin Clegg (Worcester), Josh Bayliss (Bath), Alex Mitchell (Northampton), Jacob Umaga (Wasps), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)

England U20 2017 Six Nations fixtures:

England v France: Saturday 4th February – Sandy Park, Exeter (KO 12:00pm)

Wales v England: Friday 10th February – Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay (KO 7:15pm)

England v Italy: Friday 24th February – Darlington Mowden Park (KO 7:45pm)

England v Scotland: Saturday 11th March – Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton (KO 6:15pm)

Ireland v England: Friday 17th March – Donnybrook Stadium, (KO 6:00pm)

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