ENGLAND RU Under 18s will put an unbeaten record that stretches back 17 games to 2007 on the line when they take on Australia Schools at Sale FC's Heywood Road ground on Sunday (December 13, 2009).
Adding extra piquancy to the occasion is the fact that the fine run would have been rather longer had a winning sequence on tour in Australia not been broken by an 11-3 defeat at Ballymore, Brisbane in August 2007.
While the home side have a string of positive results to provide incentive, the tourists need only look back a few days to Wednesday for their motivation. They were beaten 27-12 by an England Regional Academies XV at Lymm RFC on the opening game of their four-match visit to England and will be keen to make their additional maturity count against an Under 18 line-up.
While the England team may be giving a year or so away in age terms, they will not be lacking maturity of their own.
Directing affairs from fly-half will be George Ford, who has already played at senior level for Leeds Carnegie. He joined the Leeds Academy from Rishworth School and has established himself as one of the most accomplished players in the Leeds ranks.
He has been part of the Leeds Middlesex Sevens side for the past two seasons and made an impressive first-team debut, scoring 18 of his sides 28 points in their win over Leicester Tigers in the Anglo Welsh Cup, with a try, two conversions and three penalties.
Ford, son of England defence coach Mike, was also in the England side that defeated South Africa handsomely at Kimberley last season and he has back row forward Billy Vunipola and lock Dominic Barrow from that summer tour squad alongside him on Sunday.
England Under 18s: Ben Ransom (Saracens); Chris Elder (London Wasps), Elliott Daly (London Wasps), Jamie Elliott (Northampton Saints), Marland Yarde (London Irish); George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Dan Robson (Gloucester); Nick Auterac (Saracens), Koree Britton (Exeter Chiefs), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Sam Twomey (Harlequins), Dominic Barrow (Leeds Carnegie), Billy Vunipola (London Wasps), Chris Walker (Leeds Carnegie), Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors).
Replacements: Ant Brennan (London Wasps), Nathan Morris (Newcastle Falcons), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), George Merrick (Harlequins), Sam Northcote-Green (London Wasps), Joel Hodgson (Newcastle Falcons), Mark Jennings (Sale Sharks), Tommy Bell (Sale Sharks).
Australia Schools: Jacob Woodhouse (NSW); Chris Feauai (QLD), Tom Kingston (NSW), Tyson Frizell (NSW), Kimami Sitauti (QLD); Rohan Saifoloi (QLD), Ruka Hanlon (QLD); Scott Sio (NSW), Hugh Roach (NSW), Paul Alo-Emile (QLD), Luke Jones (NSW), Angus Hamilton (VIC), Jack De Guingand (VIC), Liam Gill (QLD), Jordan Tuapou (capt)
Replacements: Jack Kimmince (QLD), Ross Marais (QLD), Joe Welch (NSW), Curtis Browning QLD), Matt Ika (QLD), Matt Lukis (QLD), Kyle Godwin (WA), Joel Faulkner (QLD).