Four Dragons have been selected by Wales Under-20 head coach Gareth Williams for the Six Nations opener against France at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes on Sunday 3rd February (KO 3pm GMT).
There's a total of eight players getting their first taste of Six Nations action including Dragons backs Tom Hoppe, Aneurin Owen and Deon Smith, whilst back row Tommy Reffell captains the side, with Taine Basham at number Eight.
“We’re very excited about our first competitive game of the season, and it doesn’t get much bigger than against the current world champions,” said Williams.
“The occasion will be superb and it will be a true test for us a group. We have ambitions to emulate them in the coming years, so it will be a good start.
“We’re delighted with how we’ve trained, and that has been a credit to players who have missed out on selection. Their intensity in training has pushed the starting team brilliantly this week.
“We’re also very grateful to Cardiff RFC for helping us. Steve Law and his team were brilliant in an opposed training session we had at Cardiff Arms Park. With the form they are in, and quality in their squad, it was a good 45 minute challenge for our boys’ processes and approach.”
Williams is aware his side face a daunting challenge on Sunday as the hosts can boast players who have amassed nearly 200 matches in the Top 14 where some of the world’s best players compete in France’s domestic league, while his own squad have just a handful of appearances in the Guinness PRO14.
“This match represents a great opportunity. An opportunity for us as a new squad of players and coaches, but also an opportunity for individuals against a French squad with a high level of Top 14 exposure.
“If our players can prove themselves against that type of experience, it will hold us in good stead for the future, but also for their individual progression with our regions,” concluded Williams.
Wales U20s v France U20s, Stade de la Rabine, Vannes, Sun 3 February (KO 3pm, Live on S4C)
Team: Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues), 14 Tomi Lewis (Scarlets), 13 Tom Hoppe (Dragons), 12 Aneurin Owen (Dragons), 11 Deon Smith (Dragons),10 Cai Evans (Ospreys), 9. Harri Morgan (Ospreys) 1.Rhys Davies (Ospreys), 2. Dewi Lake (Ospreys), 3.Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), 4 Teddy Williams (Cardiff Blues), 5. Jac Price (Scarlets), 6. Jac Morgan (Aberavon/Scarlets), 7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester) (C), 8.Taine Basham (Dragons)
Replacements: 16 Will Griffiths (Dragons) 17 Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets) 18 Nick English (Bristol Bears) 19 Ed Scragg (Dragons) 20 Ellis Thomas (Llanelli) 21 Jamie Hill (Cardiff Blues) 22 Sam Costelow (Leicester) 23 Joe Roberts (Scarlets)
Wales U20 Six Nations fixtures
Sun 3rd Feb 19 15:00 France U20s v Wales U20s Stade de la Rabine
Sun 10th Feb 19 15:00 Italy U20s v Wales U20s Stadio Danilo Martelli
Fri 22nd Feb 19 19:05 Wales U20s v England U20s Stadiwm Zip World
Fri 8th Mar 19 19:30 Scotland U20s v Wales U20s Meggetland
Fri 15th Mar 19 19:05 Wales U20s v Ireland U20s Stadiwm Zip World
Wales U20 Six Nations fixtures Tickets for Wales' home games against England and Ireland at Stadiwn Zip World, Colwyn Bay are priced: Adults from £10, U16s £5 and are available via www.wru.wales/tickets or www.venuecymru.co.uk