Four former North Midlands Under-16s players have been named in the England Under-20s squad for this summer’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship in France.
Forwards Ted Hill, James Scott and Beck Cutting are included as part of head coach Steve Bates’ 28-man squad, while back Will Butler has also been selected.
The four are all members of the Worcester Warriors academy having played their formative representative rugby for North Midlands Under-16s.
England meet Argentina in Narbonne on the opening day of the tournament (May 30, kick-off 5.30pm BST), before facing Italy in Perpignan (June 3, kick-off 3.30pm BST) and Scotland at Beziers’ Stade de la Méditerranée (June 7, kick-off 8pm BST) in Pool B.
Narbonne and Perpignan will host the semi-finals and ranking play-offs on June 12, with Beziers hosting all finals day matches on June 17 across two pitches.
Butler is one of eight players who were involved in last year’s tournament in Georgia where England were beaten by New Zealand in the final with Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby), Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby), Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby), James Grayson (Northampton Saints), Tom Parton (London Irish), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins) and Ali Crossdale (Saracens) playing in their second World Rugby U20 Championship.
England Under 20s have reached the final in five consecutive years, winning the tournament in 2013, 2014 and 2016, and have reached eight out of ten finals since 2008.
The Under 20s are led by Bates, with support from Anthony Allen (backs), former North Midlands Under-18 lock Richard Blaze (forwards), James Ponton (defence) as part of the coach development agreement between the RFU and PRL.
Bates said: “Selection has been incredibly difficult as there were a lot of players to choose from and in some positions it’s been a really tight call.
“We saw real glimpses of what this team is capable of during the Six Nations and I was proud of the way they performed.
“The challenge for us now is to consistently play high-intensity, high-tempo rugby and to turn up the heat on our opposition for the full 80 minutes.
“The World Rugby Under 20 Championship is a fantastic tournament and for some this will be the pinnacle of their international careers.
“Some will go on to be very good professionals but not all will play international rugby again so they should look at this as a fantastic opportunity to play on the world stage and showcase their ability while representing England.
“The message going into this tournament is we are expecting much more of the players as individuals and a team and, although we have a proud history in this tournament, we want to leave our own legacy.”
England U20s squad for 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship
Josh Basham (London Irish)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks)
Beck Cutting (Worcester Warriors)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby)
Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby)
Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers)
Gabriel Oghre (Wasps)
Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints)
James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby)
Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints)
Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby)
Tom Willis (Wasps)
Rory Brand (London Irish)
Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
Ali Crossdale (Saracens)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)
James Grayson (Northampton Saints)
Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)
Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
Ben Loader (London Irish)
Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Parton (London Irish)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
Ben White (Leicester Tigers)
England Under 20s fixtures
England vs Argentina
Wednesday 30 May | 5.30pm BST | highlights on ITV Sport 12am
Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié, Narbonne
England vs Italy
Sunday 3 June | 3.30pm BST | Highlights on ITV Sport 11pm
Stade Aimé Giral, Perpignan
England vs Scotland
Thursday 7 June | 8pm BST | Highlights on ITV Sport 12am
Stade de la Méditerranée, Beziers
Semi-finals and ranking play-offs
Narbonne and Perpignan | 12 June
Beziers | 17 June