TAUNTON-BORN rugby player Richard Capstick has been included in the England Under-20 men's squad for the 2020 season.

Capstick is one of eight players already capped at U20 level to be called up again, as part of head coach Alan Dickens' 32-strong 'Elite Player Squad'.

The 19-year-old began playing the game at Heathfield Community School and Taunton Rugby Club, before going on to join the Exeter Chiefs academy.

Back row player Capstick made his first team debut for Exeter in November 2018, and finished the 2018/19 season with seven appearances and two tries.

The England squad will compete in the U20 Six Nations Championship which begins next month and runs through to March, as well as in this summer’s World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy.

Dickens said: “Players have been selected through a combination of their performances last year and displays in domestic and European competitions this season.

"It’s been encouraging to see a number of the group playing Premiership, Champions Cup and Challenge Cup rugby and I believe we’ve selected a really strong 32 for our elite player squad.

"We have less than a month to bond as a squad before our first Six Nations fixture so getting them to gel will be a key challenge for the players as well as management team.

"I also want players to enjoy themselves. Being selected for England at any level is a proud moment in their careers and they should remember that.

"Hopefully, this is the next step in their ultimate dream of playing for the senior side.

“Some of this group will have experienced the Six Nations last year and know how special a competition it is, with fixtures against some of England’s great rivals.

"Crucially though, it prepares them for what they will experience as and when they make the next step into the senior side so it is a critical phase in their development as an England player.

"These players need to be aware that next step is not too far away and relish this opportunity.

“We’ve had our first camp in November which was a really positive experience.

"It was made even more positive for the players when [England seniors' head coach] Eddie Jones was able to come in and deliver a session and that had a really powerful impact on them."

Capstick will be hoping that his selection bodes well for his future at the highest level of the game, as part of England's player pathway programme.

Of the 31 players selected in England’s 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, 81 per cent had played for England U20s.

England Under-20 men's squad
Forwards - Alfie Barbeary (Wasps), Harvey Beaton (Saracens), Richard Capstick (Exeter), Jack Clement (Gloucester), Sam Crean (Saracens), Theodore Dan (Saracens), Ben Donnell (London Irish), Rob Farrar (Newcastle), Josh Gray (Gloucester), Luke Green (London Irish), George Martin (Leicester), Nahum Merigan (Bath), Hugh Tizard (Harlequins), JJ Tonks (Northampton), Rusiate Tuima (Exeter), James Whitcombe (Leicester).
Backs - George Barton (Gloucester), Joe Carpenter (Sale), Tom Curtis (Sale), Connor Doherty (Sale), Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Bath), Will Haydon-Wood (Newcastle), Noah Heward (Worcester), Josh Hodge (Newcastle), Max Ojomoh (Bath), Sam Maunder (Exeter), Raphael Quirke (Sale), Tom Roebuck (Sale), Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton), Freddie Steward (Leicester), Jack Van Poortvliet (Leicester), Manu Vunipola (Saracens).