Source: Harlequins

A New England Under 20s squad

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There’s lots of good news surrounding the naming of the 2024 squad.

Exactly one half of them have already made their mark in the PWR league, showing how fruitful it is being in developing talent. It’s particularly rewarding to see players from Worcester RFC (not quite Worcester Warriors), Henley Hawks and Exeter University included. As you can see below, other names are added in for training sessions, while yet others have the familiar misfortune to miss out through injury.

Second, Sarah McKenna (Saracens and England) has linked up as an assistant coach. This is hugely helpful for the group, as she knows her way around the highest echelons of rugby, at 15s and 7s.

One of the surest signs of an effective pathway is the number of players graduating in turn from U18s to U20s and then to the full team. In the past fewer people could be sure of making the grade at each turn. Now the process is becoming almost a commonplace. Ella Cromack is a leading example of a player moving up (effortlessly?) from the junior grade.

England presents the high end of the Under 20s programme. We still need to see it advanced to the stage where an annual Six Nations U20 Championship becomes the norm.

Fixtures (some details still to be confirmed):

23 March, v Army, Havant RFC, 17.30
20 April v France
4 May v Wales

I have felt for some time that the Army match is ill-balanced, the result all too predictable. The simplest response would be to pitch the U20s against UKAD, representing all three services, though no doubt they find it harder organising time together.

The French game has traditionally been a two-way fixture. It looks as though the Wales game will supplant one of the two. That spreads the net wider, but denies the French their almost annual pleasure of defeating les Anglaises at home and away.

The Squad:

  1. Jorja Battishill (Gloucester-Hartpury)
  2. Joia Bennett (Saracens)
  3. Reneeqa Bonner (Bristol Bears) *
  4. Lucy Calladine (Loughborough Lightning)
  5. Evelyn Clarke (Loughborough Lightning)
  6. Ella Cromack (Harlequins)
  7. Millie David (Bristol Bears)
  8. Steph Else (Gloucester-Hartpury) *
  9. Daisy Fitzgerald (Saracens)
  10. Chloe Flanagan (Saracens)
  11. Sophie Hopkins (Sale Sharks)
  12. Millie Hyett (Gloucester-Hartpury)
  13. Lilli Ives-Campion (Loughborough Lightning) **
  14. Sophie Langford (Exeter Chiefs) *
  15. Amelia Macdougall (Saracens)
  16. Annabel Meta (Trailfinders Women)
  17. Sophie Molton (Trailfinders Women)
  18. Anna Richardson (Exeter University)
  19. Ellie Roberts (Loughborough Lightning)
  20. Hannah Sams (Exeter Chiefs)
  21. Tori Sellors (Saracens) *
  22. Samantha Shiels (Trailfinders Women)
  23. Katie Shillaker (Harlequins)
  24. Niamh Swailes (Sale Sharks) *
  25. Catherine Wells (Loughborough Lightning) *
  26. Lola Whitley (Gloucester-Hartpury) *
  27. Alex Wilkinson (Henley Hawks)
  28. Niamh Williams (Sale Sharks) *
  29. Amelia Williams (Loughborough Lightning)
  30. Eva Wood (Sale Sharks)

To come to February camp:

Leah Brough (Worcester RFC)
Josie Plant (Exeter Chiefs)
Chloe Benjamin (Harlequins)
Dani Preece (Exeter Chiefs)
Lucy Finch
Amelia Hyndman

Trial opportunity 

Lia Green (Loughborough Lightning)

Unavailable for selection due to rehabilitation/injury 

Grace Clifford (Loughborough Lightning) **
Molly Luthayi (Loughborough Lightning)
Becky Boyd (Loughborough Lightning)
Sophie McQueen (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Carmela Morrall (Loughborough Lightning)
Tyla Shirley (Harlequins)

*denotes a player previously capped at U20 level
**denotes a contracted Red Roses transitional player