Harry Mallinder has been handed the captain’s armband for England’s opening match of the 2016 World Rugby Under-20 Championships.
England - finalists in 2015 and winners in 2014 and 2013 - begin their 2016 campaign against Italy at Manchester City’s Academy stadium on Tuesday evening (KO 7:45pm).
For Mallinder the selection as match day skipper will add the gloss to the occasion, which is not just in his home city but also marks his debut at this level. Although he was included in the Under-20 squad for the Six Nations his commitments at Franklin’s Gardens for the Aviva Premiership meant that he did not make an appearance in the tournament.
“We have three tough games and want to start well in the tournament, so have selected on form and fitness as we manage players over what will be a demanding few weeks,” says England head coach Martin Haag. “When you watch the training levels and see the intensity it is incredibly competitive, which is what we want, and there are a number of young guys who will benefit from having this playing opportunity early in the tournament.”
Mallinder might be making his first appearance in a World Rugby Under-20 Championship but for his club mate Rory Hutchinson Tuesday evening will mark the third time he will run out for a match at this level.
Hutchinson has been handed the number 13 shirt for Scotland’s opening match against Australia, which kicks off at the AJ Bell Stadium at 5:30pm.
“We’ve gone for an experienced team which we feel as the right blend to execute our game plan as well as dealing with the threats Australia will pose,” commented Scotland head coach John Dalziel. “The squad has had a great build-up with the recent camp in Front Romeu and they are a tight group who are now ready to get onto the field and represent their country.”
England’s game against Italy is being broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Tickets are available for match days in the World Rugby Under-20 Championships, which is being played in Manchester over the next three weeks. For more information visit www.englandrugby.com/u20championships