Hodge starts for England Under-20s

Thursday 30 January 2020

Newcastle Falcons’ Josh Hodge starts for England Under-20s on Saturday as they open their Six Nations campaign against France in Grenoble (kick-off 8pm UK time).

Hodge lines up at full-back less than a fortnight after scoring on his first team debut for the Falcons, the versatile back having been the top points scorer at last year’s Junior World Championship in Argentina.

England Under-20s head coach Alan Dickens said: "There is a huge challenge ahead for us on Saturday against a France side who are back-to-back World Rugby U20 champions and they will be under pressure to perform in front of their home supporters.

"I've coached teams to play in France before and this will be a great experience for the players. It is usually a hostile atmosphere, they are hugely patriotic when it comes to rugby, and we are expecting no different in Grenoble.

"We need to have the ability to adapt, games of rugby are won by the team that can tactically adapt during the 80 minutes and that has been a big focus for us.

"Ultimately though you always have to go back to why we play rugby, and that is for enjoyment and I want the players to remember that on Saturday night. If we enjoy it and get our processes right we will get the result.

"The attitude, skill level and commitment of the players in the time we've had together has been fantastic, and I'm looking forward to seeing them put all that hard work into an 80 minute performance on Saturday."

England Under-20s team

15 Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)

14 Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Bath Rugby)

13 Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks)

12 Max Ojomoh (Bath Rugby)

11 Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks)

10 Manu Vunipola (Saracens)

9 Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs - captain)

1 James Whitcombe (Leicester Tigers)

2 Theo Dan (Saracens)

3 Luke Green (London Irish)

4 George Hammond (Harlequins)

5 Ben Donnell (London Irish)

6 JJ Tonks (Northampton Saints)

7 Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs)

8 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)

Replacements

16 Ben Atkins (London Irish)

17 Emmanuel Iyogun (Northampton Saints)

18 Harvey Beaton (Saracens)

19 Hugh Tizard (Harlequins)

20 Jack Clement (Gloucester Rugby)

21 Jack Van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers)

22 George Barton (Gloucester Rugby)

23 Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)

England U20s Six Nations fixtures

France v England: Saturday, February 1,8pm GMT, Stade des Alpes, Grenoble.

Scotland v England: Friday February 7, 7.30pm GMT, Myreside, Edinburgh.

England v Ireland: Friday, February 21, 7.45pm GMT, Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton. Live on Sky Sports.

England v Wales: Friday, March 6, 7.45pm GMT, Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester. Live on Sky Sports.

Italy v England: Sunday, March 15, 5.30pm GMT, Payanini Rugby Center, Verona.

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