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28 October 2014

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Jamie Noon (Getty)
Skipper Jamie Noon (Getty)

Exeter base for England rugby stars

The emerging stars of English rugby will be appearing at Exeter's Sandy Park stadium in February 2007, after it was chosen by the England Saxons as the ideal home venue for their games.

England's up-and-coming rugby players take on their Italian counterparts, as international rugby comes to Exeter Chiefs' Sandy Park stadium.

The England 'A' team - The Saxons - are based at the Chiefs' new ground this season and their match at the venue is being played on Friday 2 February 2007 (8pm).

Saxons coach Jim Mallinder has announced a strong squad: "This is a very exciting England Saxons squad, " he said. "I think we've found a good blend of experience and young talent.

"Every player has been selected on form and all have been playing well for their clubs in the Guinness Premiership."

Newcastle Falcons centre Jamie Noon will lead the team.

Shaun Perry
Shaun Perry is in the team (Getty)

Noon said: "To lead your country at any level is a huge honour. I've captained Newcastle before but this is a step up for me. We have a hugely talented squad and there is a very positive atmosphere around the camp, everyone is looking forward to Friday night.

"For me personally, obviously I'm disappointed not to be involved with the senior set-up on Saturday but above all I'm glad to be playing in an England shirt this weekend.

"There are a number of guys in the team who are capable of playing at senior level. But it' not about individuals, it's about playing as a team and putting in a great all round performance and hopefully that will enhance our cause."

Mallinder added: "Our philosophy with the Saxons is select a side capable of winning, you always have to look at the next game, but also to give an opportunity to players that we think are capable of playing at the next level."

The match against Italy is The Saxons' only Six Nations home game this season, and the team has been training at Exeter ahead of the fixture.

"We have been very impressed with the brand new ground at Exeter," said Mallinder.

"The facilities are excellent and the playing surface is first class.

Jason Leonard
Jason Leonard officially opens the ground (Getty)

"It's always great to play down in the rugby heartland of the South West. Having a noisy, patriotic crowd behind you is something that, as a player, gives you a boost."

England's most capped player Jason Leonard MBE will be at the stadium before the game to officially open the venue, where capacity has been temporarily increased to 10,000 for the match.

The Saxons are one step down from England's full international squad and features the rising stars of the game. 

Many of England's current senior XV came to prominence in the Saxons squad including Captain Martin Corry, Pete Richards, Pat Sanderson, Josh Lewsey and James Forrester.

Pete Drewett, Exeter Chiefs director of rugby, said: "This will be a showcase rugby match and will give all the National One and Two players in the Westcountry a benchmark for the standards they will need to achieve if they want to play at the very top."

Tickets for the game are priced £20-£35.

England team:

15 Mike Brown, NEC Harlequins
14 David Strettle, NEC Harlequins
13 Jamie Noon, Newcastle Falcons (captain)
12 Olly Barkley, Bath Rugby
11 Nick Abendanon, Bath Rugby
10 Shane Geraghty, London Irish
9 Shaun Perry, Bristol Rugby
1 Nick Wood, Gloucester Rugby
2 Andy Titterrell, Sale Sharks
3 Stuart Turner, Sale Sharks
4 Dean Schofield, Sale Sharks
5 Alex Brown, Gloucester Rugby
6 James Haskell, London Wasps
7 James Scaysbrook, Bath Rugby
8 Jordan Crane, Leicester Tigers

16 Dylan Hartley, Northampton Saints
17 Tom Mercey, Saracens
18 Chris Jones, Sale Sharks
19 Nick Easter, NEC Harlequins
20 Richard Wigglesworth, Sale Sharks
21 Chev Walker, Bath Rugby
22 Tom Varndell, Leicester Tigers

last updated: 02/02/07
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