Academy quartet to feature in opening U20 Six Nations weekend

2 February 2022

Four Bath Rugby Senior Academy players will represent the club on the opening weekend of the 2022 U20 Six Nations.

Scrum-half Tom Carr-Smith and hooker John Stewart have been named in the starting XV for England Under-20s’ tournament opener against Scotland at DAM Heath Stadium in Edinburgh on Friday night.

Hooker Jasper Spandler, who featured alongside Carr-Smith in a friendly with Oxford University, will earn his competitive debut at Under-20s level from the bench. 

In the Wales Under-20 camp, back row Thompson Cowan is in line for his maiden Welsh cap as a replacement. He is part of Head Coach Byron Hayward’s side that travel to Ireland in Round 1. 

Learning and developing by training week in, week out with the Bath Rugby senior team, Carr-Smith and Stewart made their senior club debuts against Gloucester in the Premiership Rugby Cup this season following on from a successful title-winning 2021 U20 Six Nations campaign. 

In May 2021, Spandler suffered a serious injury in an Under-18s match but has gone from strength to strength in his recovery, making a comeback last month, first for England Under-20s and then for the University of Bath.

Cowan earned an Academy contract in the summer after impressing in pre-season and debuted in the Premiership against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, a match he was due to attend as a spectator!

“We are really pleased four of our players will represent the club on the opening weekend of the U20 Six Nations," Academy Manager Craig Lilley said.

“Tom is a diligent, hard-working scrum-half who has been brilliant in the senior environment, learning from the likes of Ben Spencer and Joe Simpson about how to manage games. Tom has also managed to get much needed game time for the University of Bath in the BUCS League this season. This has been excellent for his development, and we’re really excited to see him go in what will be his second tournament.

“John was unlucky not to have more game time in the last Six Nations but he has bounced back superbly to regain fitness following a niggling injury. Like Tom, he has learned a great deal after being exposed to the senior training environment for a prolonged period. We are excited to see John transition back to age grade rugby and demonstrate his learnings at set piece and around the field.

“We’re delighted Jasper has earned the opportunity to represent the Under-20s after suffering a serious injury a year ago. He is a bright young man who soaks up information and we’re excited how he performs at the next level. With Jasper and John being in the same position, it has been incredible to watch their working relationship over the years, especially as they were both at Beechen Cliff School. They drive each other on and it is no coincidence they are both in the squad together - a remarkable achievement.

“Tom’s journey has been fantastic since coming back into Bath. He has gone from strength to strength alongside his university studies and it will be exciting to see him pull on the Wales Under-20 shirt for the first time. Again, Tom is another player that has benefited from playing BUCS this season and because of some of his performances both in training and matches, he has found himself in the Bath senior squad this year on multiple occasions.

“We are so proud of all these players that get the opportunity to represent their country this weekend. It’s a huge credit to all the people that have played a part of their journey as they have come through our pathway since the age of 14.”

Friday 4 February

Ireland U20 v Wales U20, Musgrave Park, 20:00 kick-off 
(Cowan to wear number 20) 

Scotland U20 v England U20, DAM Heath Stadium, 20:00 kick-off
(Carr-Smith, Stewart and Spandler to wear numbers nine, two and 16 respectively)


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