Congratulations to Lewis Boyce, Paul Hill, Jack Walker and Taylor Prell who have all been named in the England Under 20 squad for the Six Nations, which begins in Wales on Saturday, 7 February.

Former England full back Jon Callard, assisted by Ian Peel and Simon Hardy, will be taking charge of his first England U20 game. And with England not defending the trophy for the first time in three seasons – France took the title last year – there is an extra edge to the campaign, which starts in North Wales.

“Wales are a fabulous nation who love their rugby and we’re excited about taking them on,” said Callard. “And what makes this one even more special is the fact that the seniors face each other the night before – that will set the tone for a great night of rugby in Colwyn Bay.

“They’re a passionate bunch and we got a good result against them last season [a 67-7 win in Newcastle] so they’ll be keen to come out of the blocks firing. They’ll be hurting from that result and wanting to prove a point, but we’ll be focusing on ourselves and looking to perform as well as we can.

“We need to keep our evolution and development moving forward and we want to be pushing boundaries and producing players for the England senior side.”

England have spent this week training at Loughborough University ahead of the Six Nations and Callard says that the time spent together is crucial.

“There is a real unity between the clubs and ourselves – we’re all striving towards the same goal and it’s great to be able to get the players together. Each team is different and we want to find out what particular nuances make this group tick.

“But as well as the technical aspects, it’s about them developing them as a group and the culture within that. We’re a new team, and while England U20 as a name are current World Champions, this particular group haven’t won anything.”

Seven of the current squad were part of the side that won the Junior World Championship in New Zealand last June, and Callard envisages those players leading the way this campaign.

“The guys from last year will want to build on that. They have a good foundation, and their challenge now is to build new relationships and new friendships so that they have the trust in each other to perform well on the pitch. 

“We’ll be expecting them to lead from the front – they’re a bit older and more experienced. Charlie Ewels for example, he’s been playing first team rugby for Bath and has come up against France internationals Louis Picamoles, Imanol Harinordoquy and Thierry Dusautoir – that kind of experience is second to none and will stand us in good stead.”

England Under 20 Squad

Seb Adeniran-Olule (Harlequins)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)
Jake Farnworth (Leicester Tigers)
Joe Batley (Gloucester Rugby)
Charlie Beckett (Leicester Tigers)
Lewis Boyce (Yorkshire Carnegie)
James Chisholm (Harlequins)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Rugby)
Paul Hill (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Jack Innard (Exeter Chiefs)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)
Will Owen (Leicester Tigers)
Ciaran Parker (Sale Sharks)
Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs)
Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
Kieran Treadwell (Harlequins)
Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Will Witty (Newcastle Falcons)

Max Clark (Bath Rugby)
Tom Fowlie (London Irish)
Rory Jennings (Bath Rugby)
Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
James Mitchell (Sale Sharks)
Aaron Morris (Saracens)
Tom Morton (Sale Sharks)
Piers O'Conor (Wasps)
Howard Packman (Northampton Saints)
George Perkins (Saracens)
Taylor Prell (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
Stuart Townsend (Exeter Chiefs)