Scarlets captain Harry Thomas has been named in a Wales U18s team to take on Scotland at St Helen’s on Sunday (1pm ko).
The Coleg Sir Gar student, a product of New Dock Stars RFC, is named at hooker, while the Scarlets back-rower Keanu Evans of Ysgol y Strade is included among the replacements.
Head coach Richie Pugh has named a 23-strong squad which includes five players who were capped last year.
Pugh has one eye on Easter’s U18s Six Nations Festival in Dublin as he prepares his side for two games against Scotland and England. Following the schools and colleges league and the Regional Age Grade programme, he is eager to see his young side display their wares.
“Our challenge as coaches is in a short period how do we get all this talent playing together so they can really express themselves in such a short preparation time? It’s exciting with the talent coming through. You don’t know until you go up against the best of other countries and this is what this opportunity is about,” said Pugh.
“We’ve got two internationals now against Scotland and England before we go to the Six Nations Festival. We don’t know where we are at really, but this is a great part of their development.
“We see this as a Test match where we want to perform. We want to expose the boys to the next level of rugby as part of their rugby progression. There is one eye on the 26 that is going to the Six Nations Festival, but these players have a huge honour of being the first selected team to play at U18s this year and we’re looking forward to seeing how they go.”
Wales U18s men v Scotland U18s men (Swansea RFC, Sunday 19 March, 1pm)
15 Tom Bowen (Cardiff Rugby, Clifton College); 14 Harry Rees-Weldon (Dragons, Coleg Gwent), 13 Osian Roberts (Sale Sharks, Kirkham Grammar School), 12 Steffan Emanuel (Cardiff Rugby, Millfield School), 11 Oli Woodman (Dragons RFC, Monmouth School for Boys); 10 Harri Wilde (Cardiff Rugby, Ysgol Glantaf). 9 Max Fergusson (Exeter Chiefs, Exeter College); 1 Dylan James (Ospreys, Bridgend College), 2 Harry Thomas (Scarlets, Coleg Sir Gar), 3 Sam Scott (Midlands Central (Wasps), City of Oxford College), 4 Luke Evans (Cardiff Rugby, Y Pant Comprehensive), 5 Nick Thomas (Dragons RFC, Hartpury College), 6 Kenzie Jenkins (Bristol Bears, Coleg y Cymoedd), 7 Harry Beddall (Captain – Cardiff Rugby, Hartpury College), 8 Kane James (Newcastle Falcons, Sedburgh School).
Replacements: 16 Evan Wood (Cardiff Rugby, Coleg y Cymoedd), 17 Max Bignell (Cardiff Rugby, Whitchurch High School), 18 Owain James (Cardiff Rugby, Cardiff & Vale College), 19 Kyle Harris (Ospreys, Coleg y Cymoedd), 20 Keanu Evans (Scarlets, Ysgol y Strade), 21 Owain Paskell (Cardiff Rugby, Whitchurch High School). 22 Jack Woods (Dragons RFC, Monmouth School for Boys), 23 Ioan Duggan (Dragons RFC, Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni).
Wales U18s men’s fixtures
Sun 19 March – Wales U18s men vs Scotland U18s – KO 1pm at Swansea RFC (St. Helen’s ground)
Sun 26 March – Wales U18s men vs England U18s – KO 1pm at Swansea RFC (St. Helen’s ground)
Tickets will be available on the gate (public gates open from midday). £5 for adults, children under 16 free. Ticket on the day only. Tickets on the gate are cash only, if spectators need to pay by card they need to go to the main reception area on Bryn Road.