Northampton Saints Academy players Tom Litchfield and Tommy Mathews have been named in England’s 32-player squad for the 2021 Six Nations Championship to take place in Cardiff later this month.
Head coach Alan Dickens makes eight changes from the EPS squad announced in January, with centre Litchfield called up into the group after catching the eye on loan with Bedford Blues in recent weeks, and fly-half Mathews retaining his place.
“In a challenging season, the lads have been excellent and I’ve been pleased we managed to get some game time along the way,” said Dickens.
“Obviously only 32 are fortunate to make the squad – and there have been some players missing out due to injury – but it has certainly been a wider squad effort going all the way back to November last year when we played our first North v South match at St. George’s Park.
“We’ve had a couple of camps in the last six weeks which helped bring the group together. The preparation has been good and the commitment from the players has been fantastic.
“I’m really excited, but ultimately it’s about the players. I’m really looking forward to them being able to put on an England shirt and represent their country, which is something that a lot of them haven’t done for a long time.”Alan Dickens, England U20s Head Coach
The U20s Six Nations is taking place later than usual this year, with England beginning their campaign against France on Saturday 19 June. For the first time ever, the Championship matches will all be played at a single venue.
Players and management convene in camp at Bisham Abbey on 13 June for a few days training, prior to their arrival in Wales later that week for the Championship – which will all take place at Cardiff Arms Park.
Dickens added: “We’ll be concentrating on ourselves, preparing the best we can for that first match against France.
“This competition is such a fantastic opportunity for these players to experience the Six Nations. Getting to sing the anthem at the start of the game, playing against the other nations where there is such a long proud history gives them that little bit of prep in their development.
“The players have been so good throughout this year. They’ve done really, really well in challenging circumstances and they’ve put a lot of hard work in over the last seven months.
“Opportunities haven’t been as frequent as we may have liked, but at every stage they have succeeded and we just can’t wait to get out there and for the Six Nations to start.”