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Caulfield starts in U-20s final

Pictures: Getty Images

By Mark Stevens

Exeter Chiefs lock Josh Caulfield has been named in the England Under-20s starting line-up for today’s World Rugby U20 Championship final against New Zealand (kick-off 3pm BST, live on ITV4).

The imposing forward has played an integral role for the Red Rose country during the tournament, which has seen them collect wins over Samoa, Wales, Australia and then South Africa in the semi-final.

Sadly, club-mate Marcus Street – who himself has featured prominently during the competition – misses out today through injury so the tight-head spots are filled by Gloucester duo Ciaran Knight and Alex Saville.

Bath’s Zach Mercer captains the side at number eight and he is joined in the backrow by Ben Earl and Dino Lamb. Harry Randall and Max Malins, who both played in last year’s final against Ireland, start at scrum-half and number 10.

Harlequins’ Gabriel Ibitoye, who has been nominated for World Rugby player of the tournament alongside his captain Mercer, is named on the left wing. Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby) will play right wing.

England U20 head coach Ian Vass paid tribute to the squad for their character during the past three weeks in Georgia.

“The great thing is that every player in this squad has played their part and contributed – it has been a real team effort and that is a credit to character of the group,” said Vass.

England are looking to seal their fourth title in five years and are unbeaten in the tournament.

They sealed bonus-point victories against Samoa and Wales before being Australia in their final pool game. A late Mercer try against South Africa in the semi-final secured their path into today’s final.

“We have had a tougher route to the final than New Zealand however tight games bring the best out of the players and the team and we have shown how to come out on top,” added Vass. “Throughout the competition we haven’t put too much pressure on winning and it has been learning as a group.

“Each team we play has different strengths and the team we have picked will give us the best opportunity of winning. It would be fantastic achievement for the players to lift the trophy on Sunday and they are all excited to get on the field. “

England U20 team to face New Zealand:

15. Tom Parton (London Irish)
14. Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby)
13. Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
12. Jacob Umaga (Wasps)
11. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
10. Max Malins (Saracens)
9. Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
1. Ralph Adams-Hale (Saracens)
2. Joe Mullis (Gloucester Rugby)
3. Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby)
4. Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs)
5. Jack Nay (Saracens)
6. Dino Lamb (Harlequins)
7. Ben Earl (Saracens)
8. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby, capt)


16. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby)
17. Ollie Dawe (Bristol Rugby)
18. Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby)
19. Justin Clegg (Worcester Warriors)
20. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby)
21. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)
22. James Grayson (Northampton Saints)
23. Paolo Odogwu (Sale Sharks)

England’s 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship fixtures:

England 74 v 14 Samoa: Wednesday 31 May – Avchala Stadium

England 34 v 22 Wales: Sunday 4 June – Avchala Stadium

England 20 v 19 Australia: Thursday 8 June –  Avchala Stadium

England 24 v 22 South Africa: Tuesday 13 June – Mikheil Meskhi Stadium

Final: England v New Zealand: Sunday 18 June – Mikheil Meskhi Stadium