The first two squads have been named for the U19 European Championships, to be held at the Makis stadium, Belgrade from 5-11 August; Wales and Ukraine playing in the opening fixture. The winners go through to the semi finals and the losers play in ranking matches.
Late entrants Ukraine, who have taken the place of Russia, are determined to make the most of their reprieve after initially losing out to Italy in the qualifying game. “This is an historic event for Ukrainian rugby players. We are grateful to the organizers for the opportunity to take part,” said U19s head coach Igor Yurkin. “The composition of the participants in the tournament is very strong and we will have to try hard to show our strengths.”
New Welsh U19s head coach Anthony Walker, who has had his squad together for a month in preparation, acknowledged that it was a step into the unknown. “We are travelling to Serbia with a squad that we feel can be competitive and in contention for winning the competition,” he noted. “We have a range of players, from regulars in League 1, some from Super League academies and into the community game and nobody is guaranteed a shirt yet.
“We don’t know what to expect from Ukraine but we can guarantee they will be a big physical side. We want to concentrate on our own performance and to lay a foundation with tough, aggressive defence that teams will find hard to break down.”
Anton Bolshakov, Daniel Cervinsky, Evgeny Chernykh, Denis Mayorov, Vitaly Puchkov, Anton Pyatnitsky, Andrei Shelepovsky, Kirill Usik (RK, Rivne), Nikita Ivchenko (Legion XIII, Kharkov), Vladimir Brodovsky, Danylo Gapon, Oleg Kuninets, Bogdan Matsyuk, Alexander Petrenko, Maxim Shvets (Sokol, Lviv), Vladislav Rudov, Dmitry Vasilishin (Burevestnik, Khmelnytsky) Lubomyr Beznoschuk, Vladislav Osipov (Stanislaviv, Ivano-Frankivsk), Vitaly Kovach, Alexander Moroz (Zakarp)
Adam Young (Aber Valley Wolves), Cobi Green (Bradford Bulls), James Bartlett, Jake Cannon, Benjamin Hunter, Morgan Rowlands (Cardiff Blue Dragons), William Lynch (Leigh Miners Rangers), Cai Ellis, James McGurk (Newcastle Thunder), Jacob Hitchcox (North Wales Crusaders), Finlay Swift (Pilkington Recs), Elliot Jenkins (Rochdale Hornets), Matthew Jones, William Mills (Salford Red Devils), Lewis Hall (Warrington Wolves), Macauley Harris, Ellis Simon, James Smith, Fraser Stroud, Aneurin Walker (West Wales Raiders), Billy Glover (Widnes Vikings)
Opening fixtures – Sunday 5th August
Ukraine v Wales (kick off 15.30)
Ireland v Scotland
Serbia v England
France v Italy