Dean Close is delighted that three Upper Sixth formers have been selected for the U18 England Rugby squad that will be playing in the Six Nations Festival this Easter.

1st XV Captain Archie Benson (Dale) and Josh Gray (Tower) won their first international cap this weekend starting at second row and blind side flanker respectively, in an entertaining 36-21 win over an U18 Scotland side at Billingham RUFC in Middlesbrough.

Archie and Josh, along with fellow Dale House pupil, George Barton (Fly half), are also set to play on 24th March against France U18s at Cheshunt RFC. School Vice-Captain, George, who made his U18 debut last year as part of that Six Nations campaign, has also had the opportunity to be part of the England U20 programme as part of his development, which is another fantastic achievement for someone two years young.

The three boys have been an integral part of a hugely successful undefeated DCS 1st XV season in which Dean Close was ranked 14th nationally in The Daily Mail Trophy. Whilst the team was disappointed to lose narrowly in the last 16 of the Nationals Schools’ Cup in January, they are delighted with these significant achievements.

News of the boys’ individual success has certainly reinforced the benefit of the School’s support to the individual and this has been echoed its our relationship with Gloucester Rugby Academy, with whom Dean Close are formal educational partners. George, Archie and Josh all featured heavily (alongside Lower Sixth pupils Freddie Thomas and Matty Jones) in the Premiership U18 Academy League campaign, all starting in the final against Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park.

Director of Sport, Greg Baber-Williams, said: “The boys thoroughly deserved their success, demonstrating a huge amount of hard work, commitment and determination to succeed with their rugby ambitions at school, Gloucester Academy and now with the England U18 squad. The School is exceptionally proud of them and wish them all the very best of luck over the coming months with England in the U18 Six Nations Festival.”

Six Nations Festival England U18 Fixtures:

Match day one – Saturday 13 April – 12:00 England v Wales (Gillman’s Ground, Gloucester)

Match day two – Wednesday 17 April – 13:30 Ireland v England (Sixways Stadium, Worcester)

Match day three – Sunday 21 April – 13.30 England v France (Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester