The inaugural U18 Six Nations Festival comes to a conclusion at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday, 8 April, with Scotland looking to make a clean sweep of their three games and England seeking to avoid a whitewash.
The young Scots have been the surprise package of the Festival and they will open the final round with a game against Ireland School U18 at the Arms Park.
Wales will be hoping to make it two wins from three games when they host a very physical Italian team that beat England on Wednesday. The final game sees France face England.
U18 Six Nations Festival – Round 3
Sunday, 8 April - Cardiff Arms Park
12noon: Ireland v Scotland
2.30pm: Italy v Wales
5.00pm: France v England
Round 1: 31 March - Ystrad Mynach
Scotland 33-27 England
Wales 14-22 France
Ireland 20-17 Italy
Round 2: 4 April - Cardiff Arms Park
Italy 32-30 England
Ireland 28-36 Wales
France 21-24 Scotland
GAME 1: IRISH SCHOOLS U18 v SCOTLAND U18 - 12 noon
Iain Monoghan’s Scottish team will be looking to make it a triple triumph to end their campaign on the highest of highs following wins over England and France.
"It was the first time at Under 18s level that we have beaten France. We have really put a lot of emphasis on doing well at this level as it is a vital stepping stone to the Under 20s and ultimately professional rugby,” said Monoghan.
"We will focus on ourselves and we know if we can hit our best form then we have every chance of beating Ireland. It is fantastic to be playing at the Arms Park where some of rugby union’s true legends have played in the past."
Campbell College prop John McKee takes over the captaincy of the Irish Schools side as one of seven changes up front, two of them positional, from the side that were beaten by Wales in midweek. There are also four changes behind the scrum, with Round 1 matchwinner Nathan Doak returning at scrum half.
“I am very happy with how my players are developing. Age grade rugby, and pushing through to the professional game, is a tough learning experience, but these boys are in a good position to kick on,” said Irish coach Mark Smyth.
“We are putting a lot of emphasis on developing these guys into good all-round rugby players. Despite the defeat to Wales, we showed a lot of character and that gives me a lot of hope.
“Scotland are a very strong side who have a powerful set piece and we will have to be at our best to beat them. This Festival has been a fantastic experience for the boys and it is very important for us to finish on a high.”
Ireland Schools U18: Max O'Reilly (St Gerard's School); Andrew Smith (St Michael's College), Karl Martin (St Mary's School, Drogheda), Angus Adair (RBAI), Aaron Sexton (Bangor GS); Paddy McKenzie (East Glendalough School), Nathan Doak (Wallace HS); John McKee (Campbell College, captain), Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy), Charlie Ward (Tullow Community School), Sean O'Brien (Blackrock College), Tom Ahern (St Augustine's, Dungarvan), Anthony Ryan (Clongowes Wood College), Ryan O'Neill (RS Armagh), Alex Kendellen (PBC Cork)
Reps: Padraig McCarthy (Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai), Connor Morrissey (Mayfield CS), Fionn Finlay (St. Michael's College), Cian Hurley (CBC Cork), Conor McMenamin (Colaiste Ailigh), Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray), David McCann (RBAI), Ben Power (Campbell College)
Scotland U18: Rufus McLean (Merchiston Castle School); Scott Robeson (George Heriot's School), Matthew Currie (Merchiston Castle School), Robbie McCallum (Loretto School), Jack Blain (Stewart's Melville College / Stewarts Melville RFC); Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol / SGS College), Jamie Dobie (Merchiston Castle School); Alex Maxwell (Brooksby Melton College / Leicester Tigers), Rory Jackson (Edinburgh Academy), Dan Gamble (Kelso / Merchiston Castle School), Jack Hill (Sedbergh School), Cameron Henderson (Strathallan School), Archie Smeaton (Yorkshire Carnegie / Hymers College),Connor Boyle (Stewart's Melville College / Stewart's Meville RFC, captain), Rory Darge (Borders College / Melrose)
Reps: Scott Clelland (Ayr), Alex Pleasants (The Henley College / Wasps), Ashley Sinton (Newcastle Falcons / Gosforth High),Tom Morris (Dollar Academy), Gavin Wilson (Dumfries Saints), Kristian Kay (Stowe School / Wasps), Dan Lancaster (Yorkshire Carnegie / Bishop Burton College), Charlie Hudson (St Peter's, York)
GAME 2: ITALY U18 v WALES U18 - 2.30pm
The power-packed Italians gave away three penalties in the closing few minutes of their opening game to given Ireland a hat-trick of chances to win the game 20-17.
If that was a kick in the teeth for them, they didn’t show it as they recovered to beat England in Round 2. Now they will be looking to make it two wins from three with a victory over Wales to add to their collection.
Centre and skipper Matteo Moscardi starts his third game in a row, while first choice half-backs Ratko Jelic and Luca Borin return. Moscardi scored a try and picked up the man of the match award in the game against Ireland.
Wales head coach Chris Horsman has given 16-year-old Carwyn Tuipulotu another chance to shine at No 8 after his battling display against a giant French pack. He is joined in the back row by Olly White and Rob Brookson.
Lock Teddy Williams and wing Louis Rees-Zammitt are the only two Welsh players to start in all three matches and the captaincy switches from Jac Morgan to hooker Will Griffiths. Morgan is included among the replacement sand should get some game time.
"Italy had a brilliant result against England and they're clearly a great unit. We have a lot to work on and improve to beat them,” said Morgan.
“Each team is different, Ireland were less physical than France, we just have to take everything and learn from it ahead of Italy."
Italy U18: Michele Peruzzo (Valsugana Padova); Jona Motta (Rugby Milano), Matteo Moscardi (FEMI-CZ Rovigo, captain), Pietro Marzocchi (Conad Reggio), Lorenzo Romano (Pro Recco Rugby); Luca Borin (FEMI-CZ Rovigo), Ratko Jelic (Lions Amaranto); Lorenzo Michelini (Biella Rugby), Gianmarco Lucchesi (Lions Amaranto), Giacomo Florio (Fiamme Oro Rugby), Paolo Steolo (Lafert San Donà), Andrea Zambonin (Rangers Vicenza), Manuel Zuliani (Benetton Treviso), Nicolo Quaglia (Rugby Rovato), Davide Goldin (Petrarca Padova)
Reps: Tomas Rosario (Benetton Treviso), Matteo Drudi (UR Capitolina), Filippo Alongi (Benetton Treviso), Leon Lawrence (Cavalieri Union Prato Sesto), Michael Mba (Rugby Casale), Matteo Petrozzi (Saracens Academy), Albert Batista (Rugby Etruschi Livorno), Paolo Garbisi (Mogliano Rugby)
Wales U18: Ioan Lloyd (Clifton College / Exiles); Frankie Jones (Neath Port Talbot College /Cwmafan / Ospreys), Joe Roberts (Coleg Sir Gar / Burry Port / Scarlets), Aneurin Owen (Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw / NHSOB / Dragons), Louis Rees-Zammit (Hartpury College / Gloucester Academy / Exiles); Evan Lloyd (Coleg Gwent / Dragons Academy / Dragons), Dafydd Buckland (Newport HS / Rhymney / Dragons); Will Sanderson (Coleg Llandrillo / Wrexham / RGC), Will Griffiths (Coleg Gwent / Cross Keys / Dragons, captain), Luke Yendle (Newport HS / Senghenydd / Dragons), Ben Carter (Newport HS / Caldicot / Dragons),Teddy Williams (Ysgol Glantaf / Cardiff Harlequins / Cardiff Blues), Rob Brookson (Coleg Gwent / Pontypool United / Dragons), Olly White (Llandovery College / Llandovery / RGC), Carwyn Tuipulotu (Sedbergh School / Exiles)
Reps: Cameron Lewis (Coleg Sir Gar / Swansea Uplands / Ospreys), Callum Williams (Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth / Tumble / Scarlets), Archie Griffin (Marlborough College / Exiles), Jac Price (Coleg Sir Gar / Carmarthen Quins / Scarlets), Ioan Davies (Coleg y Cymoedd / Merthyr / Cardiff Blues), Jac Morgan (Coleg Sir Gar / Carmarthen Athletic / Scarlets), Osian Knott
(Coleg Sir Gar / Carmarthen Quins / Scarlets), Ellis Bevan (Bryanston / Ampthill / Exiles), Sam Costelow (Oakham School / Leicester Tigers / Exiles), Josh Thomas (Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr / Pontarddulais / Ospreys), Harri Doel (Coleg Sir Gar / Scarlets Academy / Scarlets)
GAME 3: FRANCE U18 v ENGLAND U18 (5.00pm)
After two agonising defeats, England U18 head coach John Fletcher will be hoping his side can finish off their chances when they wrap up their campaign against France.
There are nine changes to the side beaten by Italy with backs Reece Dunn, Jack Reeves, Jacob Morris, Manu Vunipola and Blake Boyland returning. Prop Bevan Rodd and hooker Alfie Barbeary are included in the front row, with lock George Martin also returning, while flanker Rob Farrar comes into the back row.
“I want to see them play for the full 70 minutes. In patches we’ve been good both sides of the ball but we have lacked consistency and we have been in and out of the game far too much,” said Fletcher.
“We are going to need to play for 70 minutes against France as they are probably the best team in the Festival. We played them early in our season and although the game was quite even I was impressed with their play.
“The players have worked really hard over the past week. It’s a really good opportunity for us to end the Festival on a high with a really positive performance.”
Giant French No 8 Jordan Joseph, the try scoring man fo the match from their win over Wales, returns to the back row to add more power to the French pack. His battle with England’s 19 stone No 8 Rus Tuima should be one of the highlights of the round.
France U18: Remi Brosset (Agen); Erwan Dridi (Toulon), Maxime Espeut (Beziers), Theo Costosseque (Bayonne), Romain Fusier (Grenoble); Thomas Dolhagaray (Bayonne), Hugo Zabalza (Bayonne); Eli Eglaine (Grenoble), Pierre Jutge (Colomiers), Regis Montagne (Grenoble), Adrien Warion (Provence), Gauthier Maravat (Agen), Thibault Hamonou (Toulouse), Yan Peysson (Colomiers), Jordan Joseph (Massy)
Reps: Theo Lachaud (Toulon), Enzo Baggiani (Tarbes), Fabien Witz (Massy), Wael May (Toulon), Kevin Viallard (Brive), Yoram Falatea Moefana (Colomiers), Malcom Bertschy (La Rochelle), Hugo Ndiaye (Provence)
England U18: Reece Dunn (Gloucester Rugby / St Peter's HS); Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons / Sedbergh School), Will Simonds (Wasps / Henley College), Jack Reeves ( Gloucester / Hartpury College), Jacob Morris (Gloucester / Hartpury College); Manu Vunipola ( Saracens / Harrow School), Blake Boyland (Bristol / SGS College); Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks / Sedbergh School), Alfie Barbeary (Wasps / Bloxham School), Cal Ford (Sale Sharks / Sandbach School), Ben Donnell London Irish / Peter Symonds College), George Martin (Leicester Tigers / Brooksby Melton College), Rob Farrar (Newcastle Falcons / Sedbergh School), JJ Tonks (Gloucester / Hartpury College), Rus Tuima (Exeter Chiefs / Exeter College),
Reps: Samson Ma'asi (Northampton Saints / St Joseph’s), Lewis Holsey (Worcester Warriors / Solihull School), Jack Bartlett (Gloucester), Will Montgomery (Newcastle Falcons / Kirkbie Kendal School), Henri Lavin (Leicester Tigers / Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth College), Ted Leatherbarrow (Sale Sharks Kirkham GS), Callum Pascoe (Newcastle Falcons / Gosforth Academy), George Barton (Gloucester / Dean Close School), Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks /
Kirkham GS), Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints / Northampton School for Boys), Harry Barlow (Harlequins / Cranleigh School)