By Nick Friend
Durham alumnus Josh Beaumont will make his England debut on Sunday, after being drafted in to start at number eight as Eddie Jones’s side takes on the Barbarians at Twickenham. Beaumont is among eight debutants as England begin a summer schedule that includes a trip to Argentina, shorn of a multitude of stars as they prepare to represent British and Irish Lions in New Zealand.
Hindered by such an absence of experience, Jones has opted – somewhat unusually – to name two co-captains, with Chris Robshaw taking back the reins for the first time since England’s meek World Cup showing on home soil back in 2015. Robshaw will lead Beaumont as he leads a young set of forwards against a star-studded Barbarians side. George Ford, meanwhile, has been named co-captain, with an inexperienced line-up of backs working under his command.
Beaumont, who graduated from St Aidan’s in 2013 with a degree in geography, plays his club rugby for Sale Sharks. On Sunday, he faces the sizeable challenge of coming up against South African legend Ruan Pienaar, as well as French great Thierry Dusautoir, Adam Ashley-Cooper of Australia, and the English duo of Steffon Armitage and Alex Goode, both cast aside by the RFU as a result of playing their club rugby overseas.
Photograph: Sale Sharks