- London & South East champions at full strength for Twickenham final
- Skipper Atkinson playing against England team mates
Club Hampshire Under 20 have no injury concerns and select a full-strength team as they look to emulate the side from 2002 and lift the National U20 Championship trophy at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday (May 14, 5pm).
They know they will face a very tough task when they meet the much fancied Gloucestershire.
Hampshire defeated Cornwall nine years ago and would like to add another south-western scalp but they are fully aware of the strength of a Gloucestershire side that contained nine players who played alongside Hampshire captain Joe Atkinson for England Counties Under 20 last weekend in a defeat against Scotland.
Joe played the full 80 minutes in the defeat but will surely have taken some notes on the performances of the Gloucestershire contingent of the side ahead of Saturday's clash.
Hampshire have blasted their way through to this final, coming through their qualifying group without conceding a single point to the Army and Hertfordshire and then progressing comfortably against Middlesex and Kent to lift the Jason Leonard Trophy as the champions of London and South East.
A semi-final triumph over a competitive Leicestershire side at Basingstoke a month ago, winning 28-7, saw Hants book their place for the final.
Honour to play at Twickenham – Neville
Hampshire U20 team manager Ed Neville is hugely excited about the prospect of taking his side to the Home of England Rugby. But the task of bringing the players back down to earth is one of the toughest he has.
"It is a tremendous honour for any rugby player to play at Twickenham as not many get the opportunity," Neville said.
"However, the coaching team have been trying to de-mystify the experience so that we will not be overawed on the day. This squad of Hampshire players is the strongest that we have put out for a decade as it is nine years since our last visit to the Under 20s final but the current vintage fully deserve to be there.
"They have been the strongest team in each of the games we have played and we have a strength on the bench that is the envy of other counties so we go into the game full of confidence."
The excitement of the day has not been lost within the county either and a supporters’ coach has been organised by Hampshire RFU, which is very near to being full, but there are still spaces available.
Contact Hampshire RFU at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details - pick up points in Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Basingstoke.
15 James Hammond (Fordingbridge); 14 Myles Roberts-Bailey (Newbury Blues), 13 Callum Staff (Basingstoke), 12 Harry Hodell (Portsmouth), 11 Jarryd Robinson (Havant); 10 Chris Lewis (University of Bath), 9 Andy Gale (Newbury Blues); 1 Rob Elsmore (Havant), 2 Callum O’Connell (London Scottish), 3 Alex Hibdige (Andover), 4 Nick Leach (Portsmouth), 5 Nick Lynch (Portsmouth), 6 Dominic Porter (Havant), 7 Joe Atkinson (Loughborough University and Petersfield, captain), 8 Matt Peters (Portsmouth).
Replacements: 16 Sean Haberfield (Southampton Solent University), 17 Matt Flower (Gosport & Fareham), 18 Rob Gicquel (Portsmouth), 19 Lawrence Warren-West (Havant), 20 Charlie Cutler (Portsmouth), 21 Jack Parsons (Winchester), 22 Ben Barry (University of Portsmouth).