'Exciting mix' for Wales U18

Wales Under 18 head coach, and Ospreys Skills Coach, Gruff Rees has selected an 'exciting mix' of physicality and flair for his side's first international match of the season, against France at St Helen's, Swansea, on Sunday (2.30pm).

Blues flanker Ellis Jenkins leads a side that has prepared well after completing a two-month training programme, culminating in a convincing 41-17 win over a Leicester Tigers academy XV last week.

Rees said: “The team is an exciting mix of boys with footballing ability to fit for our attacking philosophy and physicality from our forwards. Our back row players compete hard for everything while our front five work hard to fill the field defensively and carry effectively when they need to.”

The team includes Ospreys outside half Sam Davies and Blues No 8 Lewis Young, sons of Regional Directors of Rugby Nigel and Dai.

“We have some famous genetics in the side”
, added Rees, “but both Sam and Lewis are talented players in their own right who have come through the Regional training programme and our national programme culminating in the Leicester camp and those two players, along with the other 13 are fully deserving of their place in the starting line-up.”

The team sees Scarlets’ Jordan Williams picked at 12, rather than his usual position of outside half. “From an attacking point of view, we want to put our best footballers on the field. We now have players at 10, 12, 15 and on the wings who can put our attacking philosophies into action and run, pass or kick depending on the options open to them," added Rees.

“We have had some good contact time with the players and are now looking forward to putting that work into practice with Sunday’s game, and the following weekend in Italy.”

Wins in these games would put Wales at an advantage come the forthcoming FIRA-AER Under 18 tournament in France at Easter.

Captain Ellis Jenkins added, “We feel that everything is coming together at the right time. Obviously we’d like to win every game and if we play throughout like we played in parts against Leicester, there is no reason we can’t do well.

“France are always a big side with some natural ball players but some of our backs are exceptional and if we can match them up front, we should be ok. It should be a good game to watch and hopefully we’ll get some good support at St Helen’s.”

Tickets for  Sunday’s game are £5 for adults and £3 for Under 16s and are available on the gate.

Wales U18 v France U18 (Sunday, 6 March, 2.30pm):

Cory Allen (Blues / Glam Wands / Y Fro); Ryan J Evans (Ospreys / Bryncoch / Ystalyfera), Thomas Pascoe (Blues / Mountain Ash / Coleg Morgannwg), Jordan Williams (Scarlets / Llanelli / Coleg Sir Gar), Jack Randall (Scarlets / Ammanford / Amman Valley); Sam Davies (Ospreys / Gorseinon / Gowerton Comp), Rhodri Williams (vice-capt, Scarlets/ Llandovery / Amman  Valley Comp); Nicky Smith (Ospreys / Gower College), Jack Dando (Blues / Penygraig / Coleg Morgannwg), Daniel Suter (Ospreys / Tonmawr / Neath Port Talbot Coll), Jack Jones (Ospreys / Llandovery Coll), Rhodri Hughes (Ospreys / Hendy / Gwyr), Ellis Jenkins (capt, Blues / Llantwit Fardre / Bryn Celynog), Daniel Thomas (Scarlets / Kidwelly / Bro Myrddin), Lewis Young (Blues/ Coleg Morgannwg).

Evan Yardley (Ospreys / Bridgend Athletic / Brynteg), Thomas Davies (Blues / Ystrad Rhondda/ Ferndale Community School), Bradley Thyer (Blues / Ystrad Rhondda / Ferndale), Llywelyn Jones (Scarlets/ Haverfordwest / Thomas Picton), Ieuan Jones (Dragons / Bargoed Youth), Josh Davies (Dragons / Llandovery Coll), Rhys Patchell (Blues/ CHSOB / Glantaf), Ryan E Evans Blues / Tonyrefail / Tonyrefail Comp)