England today named an exciting and experienced Under 20 Elite Player Squad for the new season featuring five Gloucester Rugby players.
The quintet from Kingsholm are Shaun Knight, Danny Wright, Jordi Pasqualin, Freddie Burns and Jonny May.
The 32-man group will compete in the RBS U20 Six Nations campaign in the New Year before heading to the IRB Junior World Championship (JWC) in Argentina next June.
Head coach Mark Mapletoft can call on 16 players capped at Under 20 level last season, including seven who took part in the JWC in Tokyo this summer where England were beaten by New Zealand in the final.
They include the 2009 JWC leading points scorer Tom Homer (London Irish), starting fly half Rory Clegg (Harlequins), hooker Jamie George (Saracens) and lock James Gaskell (Sale Sharks).
Mapletoft also promotes eight players from last season's unbeaten England Under 18 team, who completed a Five Nations Festival Grand Slam and beat South Africa 45-13 in Kimberley last month.
Mapletoft said: "We've got a great deal of experience and we're able to add to that with players who have been very successful at Under 18 level over the last two years.
"We also have a lot of raw talent to work with and the Under 18s certainly looked very strong in South Africa this summer.
"We're heading in the right direction and we've established ourselves as the second best side in the world behind New Zealand over the last couple of years.
"The age grade sides do change every year but we continually look at ourselves to keep improving and keep focusing on their development as players and as individuals."
The RFU's Head of Elite player development Stuart Lancaster is optimistic that the Under 20s can go one step further this season to claim a first world title in South America.
Lancaster said: "The strength in depth we've developed at age group level over the last few years is a great credit to the work the academies are doing within our clubs.
"There's a really positive environment that has been created between club and country here and the quality of the players coming through the system is testament to that.
"We've every right to be ambitious. The next step is for us to win the IRB Junior World Championship and looking at this group of players it's an achievable goal."
The Under 20s start their preparations with two days together at Twickenham next month and training camps in December and January before kicking off the Six Nations against Wales on February 5.
England Under 20 EPS
Joe Marler (Harlequins)**
Lee Imiolek (Sale Sharks)
Jamie George (Saracens)**
Arthur Ellis (London Wasps)*
Shaun Knight (Gloucester Rugby)**
Mako Vunipola (Bristol Rugby)
Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)
Calum Green (Leicester Tigers)
Danny Wright (Gloucester Rugby)*
James Gaskell (Sale Sharks)**
Peter Elder (London Wasps)*
Jamie Gibson (London Irish)*
Joe Trayfoot (Harlequins)
Jacob Rowan (Leeds Carnegie)*
Will Welch (Newcastle Falcons)
Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons)
Jackson Wray (Saracens)
Sam Harrison (Leicester Tigers)*
Jordi Pasqualin (Gloucester Rugby)*
Sam Stuart (Harlequins)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)*
Rory Clegg (Harlequins)**
Jake Sharp (Saracens)
Tom Catterick (Newcastle Falcons)
Tom Casson (Saracens)*
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Sam Smith (Harlequins)
Christian Wade (London Wasps)
Marcus Watson (London Irish)
Will Hurrell (Leicester Tigers)**
Tom Homer (London Irish)**
Jack Wallace (London Wasps)
Speaking to GRTV this week, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reflected on last week's win in La Rochelle as well as an A League semi-final triumph, but insisted that focus has quickly switched to Sunday's crucial Aviva Premiership fixture at Bath.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.