Match Preview


The U20 Six Nations could be decided on Friday night, as England go in search of the bonus-point win that would crown them champions in a top-of-the-table clash against Ireland.

The last two unbeaten teams in the 2024 Championship meet at the Rec in Round 4, with the winner also moving to within one more victory of the Grand Slam.

England have the marginal advantage at the top of the table and their one-point lead means only they can become champions this weekend – which they can do by winning the match and scoring at least four tries.

Three bonus-point wins against Italy (36-11), Wales (28-7) and Scotland (30-17) has seen them motor to 15 points but their toughest two tests lie ahead, with France lurking in Round 5.

Ireland – who are seeking a third straight Grand Slam – have been every bit as impressive.

They put 37 points on the board against France in Round 1 and beat Wales by an even greater margin than England (43-8) in Round 3.

However, their three-try performance against Italy in Round 2, where they needed a late Sean

Edogbo try to win, means they sit a point back.

But with the title still theirs for now, England face a tall task in taking it from them, which makes this a fascinating match-up.


The game will kick off at 7.15pm UK time on Friday evening, with fans able to watch the encounter on BBC Sport via iPlayer, the red button and the website. The game will be televised on RTÉ 2 in Ireland.


England have made four changes from the team that beat Scotland in Round 3.

Centre Ben Waghorn, hooker Jacob Oliver and lock duo Olamide Sodeke and Junior Kpoku are welcomed back into the starting XV following England’s victory north of the border.

Uncapped Saracens hooker James Isaacs is in line for his first U20 cap as a replacement, with James Halliwell and Oli Spencer also returning the matchday squad.

Meanwhile, Ireland head coach Ritchie Murphy has selected an unchanged backline for the trip to Bath as Ben O'Connor, Finn Treacy and Hugo McLaughlin continue in the back three, with Hugh Gavin and Wilhelm de Klerk selected in midfield.

Jack Murphy and Oliver Coffey are retained as the half-back pairing.

In the pack, Alex Usanov, Danny Sheahan and Jacob Boyd start in the front row, with Alan Spicer returning to the Match Day Squad to partner captain O'Connell in the second row.

Joe Hopes switches back to blindside flanker alongside Bryn Ward and Luke Murphy in the back row.


Mark Mapletoft, England U20 Men’s head coach, said: “England and Ireland have had some battles in recent times and this fixture is one that I’m sure our fans have been anticipating since it was announced last year.

“The support we received in our last outing at the Rec was second to none, and the fact we’re expecting an even bigger crowd this weekend only adds to what promises to be a memorable occasion.

“Richie is a coach I have great respect for. He and his staff have built a very impressive programme and we look forward to welcoming them this Friday to write another chapter.”


England: 15 Ben Redshaw, 14 Toby Cousins, 13 Ben Waghorn, 12 Sean Kerr, 11 Alex Wills, 10 Josh Bellamy, 9 Archie McParland, 1 Asher Opoku-Fordjour, 2 Jacob Oliver, 3 Billy Sela, 4 Olamide Sodeke, 5 Junior Kpoku, 6 Finn Carnduff (c), 7 Henry Pollock, 8 Nathan Michelow

Replacements:16 James Isaacs, 17 Scott Kirk, 18 James Halliwell, 19 Zach Carr, 20 Kane James, 21 Ben Douglas, 22 George Makepeace-Cubitt, 23 Oli Spencer

Ireland: 15. Ben O'Connor, 14. Finn Treacy, 13. Wilhelm de Klerk, 12. Hugh Gavin, 11. Hugo McLaughlin, 10. Jack Murphy, 9. Oliver Coffey, 1. Alex Usanov, 2. Danny Sheahan, 3. Jacob Boyd, 4. Alan Spicer, 5. Evan O'Connell (c), 6. Joe Hopes, 7. Bryn Ward, 8. Luke Murphy

Replacements: 16. Henry Walker, 17. Ben Howard, 18. Patreece Bell, 19. Billy Corrigan, 20. Sean Edogbo, 21. Tadhg Brophy, 22. Sean Naughton, 23. Davy Colbert