Three members of the Three Pears Warriors Academy have been included in the England Under-20s squad for this season’s delayed Six Nations tournament which gets underway in Cardiff later this month.
Fly-half Fin Smith, loosehead prop Lewis Holsey and centre Seb Atkinson are all uncapped at this level and have been included in the 32-man squad named by England Under-20s Head Coach Alan Dickens.
Smith, 18, impressed in the Gallagher Premiership in the second half of the season and became the second-youngest player to appear for Warriors in the competition and also the club’s youngest-ever starter.
Holsey made his senior debut in the 2019/20 season but suffered a badly dislocated shoulder in pre-season training and missed most of this season. He returned to action with Hartpury on a dual registration arrangement with the Greene King IPA Championship club.
Atkinson has yet to play for Warriors in a competitive match but he was involved in the pre-season friendly against Northampton Saints in November and he impressed playing for Warriors Under-18s last season and in a series of trials and warm-up matches with England Under-20s in recent months.
Smith, Holsey and Atkinson are the latest in a long line of Warriors players to be selected by England Under-20s with Ollie Lawrence, Ted Hill, Kai Owen and James Scott all having won international honours at this level in the last two years.
“We are delighted to have three players involved from the Three Pears Warriors Academy,” said Academy Manager Mike Hall.
“It has been a particularly challenging time over the last 16 months, especially for these younger players, with very few opportunities to get the game time they so crave.
“However, Lewis, Seb and Fin have all kept their heads down, worked incredibly hard in training and go into the tournament with a lot of confidence.
“It shows the quality of our local rugby landscape and the Academy pathway, that three local lads, nurtured and developed through local clubs and schools, are representing the Warriors’ region on a European stage at Under-20s level.
“It is testament to everyone involved in the local game that these players can achieve their ambitions of representing their country in the Six Nations.
“For that we say a huge thank you to everyone involved in the local game – from teachers, who give up endless hours outside of school hours, club coaches and volunteers who help young players develop a love for the game from an early age and the referees who allow the games across the region to take place.”
This season’s Under-20s Six Nations was postponed earlier this year owing to COVID-19 and will now be played at Cardiff Arms Park with three matches-a-day on five game days between June 19 and July 13.
“In a challenging season the lads have been excellent and I’ve been pleased we managed to get some game time along the way,” Dickens said.
“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.”
England will meet up at Bisham Abbey on Sunday before they travel to Cardiff where they will face France in the opener on Saturday June 19 (kick-off 5.00pm).
England will then play Scotland on Friday June 25 (kick-off 2.00pm), Ireland on Thursday July 1 (kick-off 8.00pm), Wales on Wednesday July 7 (kick-off 8.00pm) and Italy on Tuesday July 13 (kick-off 2.00pm).