The second edition of the U18 Six Nations Festival gets underway this weekend in England with a trio of fascinating fixtures.
Scotland won the inaugural edition of the Festival a year ago and will start the defence of their title against Italy in Saturday’s third and final game.
England against Wales kicks things off at 12.10pm before Ireland take on France ahead of the champions squaring off with the Azzurrini – all three matches taking place at Hartpury College’s Gillman’s Ground.
All six countries will play three games during the ten-day competition in England, with the first round on Saturday, matchday two is at Sixways Stadium next Wednesday, before Kingsholm Stadium – home of Gloucester – hosts the finale on Sunday April 21.
You can watch every game of a competition that could well be a breeding ground for future Championship stars live on FreeSports and the full schedule is available here.
England v Wales – 12.10pm – live on FreeSports
A fierce rivalry at whatever level it is contested, England and Wales will kick off the 2019 U18 Six Nations Festival at Gillman’s Ground.
England were winless in their three games a year ago but as hosts, they will have a point to prove and are captained in their opener by Leicester Tigers lock George Martin – who was part of the 2018 Festival.
The side contains six players who toured South Africa with England U18s in the summer, as Martin is joined by hooker Sam Riley, flanker Jack Clement, No.8 Nahum Merigan, fly-half Tom Curtis and winger Tom Roebuck.
Wales finished second in the table a year ago, as they won two games from three on home soil with a sole defeat coming against France.
Three of their starting line-up – No.8 Harry Breeze, fly-half Ed Dunford and full-back Ioan Lloyd – will have an extra point to prove as they attend school in England and both sides will be desperate to get the Festival off to a winning start.
U18s | Here’s your England team to face Wales in the opening match of the U18 Six Nations Festival.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) April 12, 2019
Ireland v France – 2.40pm – live on FreeSports
France came agonisingly close to winning the inaugural U18 Six Nations Festival a year ago as their only defeat was a narrow 24-21 defeat to eventual champions Scotland.
They are skippered for their opener by second-rower Joshua Brennan and he will have added incentive to get one over their opening opponents as his father – Trevor Brennan – is an ex-Ireland international.
Joshua is also the younger brother of France U20s prop Dan Brennan, so certainly has the pedigree to be a success in the rugby world.
Ireland have opted for experience – as much as a U18 team can – in their squad selection, with five of the starting XV having played in last year’s Festival.
No.8 Alexander Kendellen, who skippers the side, is one of that quintet with fly-half Nathan Doak, hooker Tom Stewart, centre Karl Martin and full-back Chris Cosgrave the others.
Ireland U-18 School Team Named For Six Nations U-18 Festival Opener against France in Hartpury College.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) April 12, 2019
Scotland v Italy – 5.10pm – live on FreeSports
Completing the first day of action at Gillman’s Ground are reigning champions Scotland, as they take on Italy.
A year ago, the Scots were the masters of a narrow victory as they defeated England 32-27, France 24-21 and Ireland 19-17 and will be looking to continue that momentum.
With that in mind, Scotland U18 head coach Ross Miller has selected four men who played last year to be part of his 26-strong squad – Scott Clelland, Daniel Gamble, Jamie Dobie and Matthew Currie.
Italy U18 come into the Festival off the back of their first Test match of the season on March 29, where second-half scores from Stephen Varney, Simone Gesi and Filippo Drago – the latter two set to start against Scotland – weren’t enough to force a dramatic comeback as they fell short in a 34-22 defeat against France.
Luca Andreani will skipper the side from flanker as the Azzurrini look to build on last year’s competition, where they recorded an impressive 32-30 victory over England.
🔵 #ItaliaU18: annunciata la formazione che domani scenderà in campo a Hartpury con la Scozia, per la prima giornata del #SixNationsFestival 2019 ➡ https://t.co/VrbTrfGb7q#SCOvITA #insieme #rugbypassioneitaliana pic.twitter.com/KFnUHuPFws
— Italrugby (@Federugby) April 12, 2019
2019 U18 Six Nations Festival fixtures
Matchday one – Saturday 13 April
KO Gillman’s Ground, Gloucester
12:10 England v Wales
14:40 Ireland v France
17:10 Scotland v Italy
Matchday two – Wednesday 17 April
KO Sixways Stadium, Worcester
11:10 France v Italy
13:40 Ireland v England
16:10 Wales v Scotland
Matchday three – Sunday 21 April
KO Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester
11:10 Scotland v Ireland
13.40 England v France
16:10 Italy v Wales