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England have best junior programme in world rugby

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tomathy
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Post by DaveM Wed 31 Aug 2011, 12:08 am

So says John Fletcher on the back of the u18's highly impressive performances in Australia:

England player development

Interesting lines include:

I believe come 2015 we’ll see a lot of players come up through the Under 18s, they’ll definitely add something. There is no doubt that this crop of youngsters are better than the current England squad were at the same age – and so they should be.

Perhaps more surprisingly

And the skills of Fletcher’s current charges were on display for all to see. “Our victories are proof that we are better than the southern hemisphere teams of this age when it comes to moving the ball around and a lot of our tries have come because of that.”

It's not just the backs though, with the forwards being both physically dominant and having excellent basic skills. Players like Dominic Barrow (lock) and David Sisi (number 8) have every chance of progressing to full international honours if they stay fit and focussed.

There was talk of England's recent relative success at age grade rugby falling off, but I think that is more a problem resulting from having to sift so many players from the 14 academies. England also look for players who've been missed by the academies. Such is the strength in depth that the under 18's have very little to do with the u16's of two years ago.

Of course we could just be seeing hubris from the RFU, but I think I can see parallels in cricket. There 10 years of decent structures and, frankly, throwing money at the problem has left England number 1 in the world, and with very impressive strength in depth which is likely to keep us there. The parallel isn't perfect, for instance I don't think the senior rugby coaches can match their cricket equivalents, but that's relatively easily corrected if necessary.

England still have a long way to go but, with probably the best ever England u20s side this year and with the under 18s who may finally break NZ's monopoly at the JWC in two year's time, the 2015 WC is likely to be more enjoyable for England fans than the 2011 version.

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Post by nottins_jones Wed 31 Aug 2011, 12:20 am

They beat the Schools team, that isn't Australia is it?

Behind New Zealand, they probably do have the best junior programme. Proof is in their results in the Junior 6 Nations and JWC.
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Post by bathmad Wed 31 Aug 2011, 8:58 am

I think we've already begun to see the improvements from the age grade rugby. Think of those in the current England squad who impressed in JWCs only a couple of years ago.

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Post by pete (buachaill on eirne) Wed 31 Aug 2011, 9:25 am

The All Blacks have the best junior programme realistically by a mile.

From my point of view, the Irish one is exceptionally good considering we don't use foreign imports in our provinces anywhere near as much as other NH countries do.

The Leinster and Ulster academies in particular are churning out excellent talent at a high rate and we have a fantastic U20 coach in Ruddock

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Post by yappysnap Wed 31 Aug 2011, 10:01 am

Very impressed with the way the junior programme is working out in England. I still think we have a way to go if we want to beat the Junior 'Blacks though, more then anything their basic skills are a level above any one elses, hopefully these players going through the system will pick up those talents though.

Correct me if i'm wrong but wasn't it the much maligned Rob Andrew who helped set up, and organise the age groups system and make sure that each age grade translates smoothly right up to pro level?

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Post by The Great Aukster Wed 31 Aug 2011, 1:40 pm

Don't see any evidence to suggest that England have a good Junior programme, never mind the best.

England have the greatest number of Juniors playing the game, so they should have a good team if not the best with everything else being equal. The senior team now has one of the older age profiles in the 6N so where are all these youngsters coming through, (excluding those who learnt their rugby elsewhere or are league converts)?

It is also an indictment of the 'Junior Programme' if the players in the u18 team didn't play for the u16 team. That suggests that talent was missed at the younger age and if it was spotted wasn't able to be developed through the higher grades.

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Post by ruck40fun Wed 31 Aug 2011, 5:22 pm

The senior team now has one of the older age profiles in the 6N so where are all these youngsters coming through[/quote],

The average age of the current England Squad going to the WC is 24.5 years......you sure that's one of the older age profiles in the 6N?

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Post by TheGreyGhost Wed 31 Aug 2011, 5:25 pm

That's why there's nothing but young English players migrating to other countries and qualifying for their starting line ups.

The strength of England youth is that they always win the JRWC and you never see foreign trained players walking straight into the England senior team.


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Post by ruck40fun Wed 31 Aug 2011, 5:36 pm

I think the point of the topic is that the current U18 and indeed U16s is playing at a far higher level than our previous age groups and comparisons with the SH age group teams is in the backs. NZ are hugely dominant in the forwards at U18 level, where they seem to be much bigger and more physically developed than their counterparts.

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Post by DaveM Wed 31 Aug 2011, 7:32 pm

I don't think it is any surprise that England struggle to identify the best 30 15 and 16 year olds, or that some players kick on between 16 and 18. It takes time to sift all those players.

As I highlighted, probably the most interesting claim is the u18's coach sticking his neck out and saying (essentially) that we pass the ball better than the NZ u18s. Certainly that has never been the case for any previous English age-group, although I didn't think there was a massive difference this year at u20 level. Australia u18s went down to their NZ conterparts 31-20 in 2010, so for England to put 46 points on the current side is very impressive.

With the exception of a slight dip in 2010 (which still saw some fine players) England have been producing better and better u20 sides, and this u18 group is presumably the basis of the best yet.

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Post by MBTGOG Wed 31 Aug 2011, 7:43 pm

It's a very dangerous claim to make considering we will only know how good this is in 12-14 years time. It is developing players to play at pro level and ultimately at international level, not how they do in a schoolboy tour in Australia.


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Post by Notch Wed 31 Aug 2011, 7:47 pm

I'm a bit puzzled by this claim given the All Blacks traditionally walk off with the JRWC with next to no senior opposition.

I think they are doing some good things in England, but really the Kiwi production line is just scary.
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Post by DaveM Wed 31 Aug 2011, 8:28 pm

Well presumably it's based on his watching of the southern hemisphere age grade sides and comparing what he sees with what his players can do.

England have lost 3 JWC finals to NZ. This year was the smallest the gap has been, and featured a decent number of 18 year-olds. I would imagine England will be targetting, and perhaps expecting, a JWC win over the next two years.

As for judging the programme in 10-12 years' time, I think you measure the programme by how good the players who graduate it are. What the AP clubs and the senior England set-up do with this talent is a seperate issue, but they've never been given better raw materials.

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Post by maestegmafia Wed 31 Aug 2011, 8:38 pm

England probably spend more money on junior rugby than Samoa, Tonga and Fiji spend at all levels combined.

Plus the incredibly accomplished and well equipped rugby schools England, and the wealth of most top young players parents, it is no surprise they do so well.

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Post by Shifty Wed 31 Aug 2011, 8:41 pm

I havent watched much U18 rugby so it's hard to give an honest opinion, but the fact England seem to often make the final in the JRWC tournament points to the fact they have a decent system.
Their problem as always is what happens to them once they get to senior rugby. Relegation is such a real prospect for Guiness clubs and taking chances on youth is rare, so players drift down the divisions or get disheartened from their lack of oppertunities. It's much easier to buy an islander or a cheap New Zealander from the NPC than take the time an effort to develop a academy prospect.
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Post by DaveM Wed 31 Aug 2011, 9:00 pm

Whether previous reluctance to give young players a go was due to lack of quality or just risk adversity I'm not sure, but the RFU now pay the clubs to give starts to English players and the quality is up. Last season loads of young English players got game time in the AP, and the Championship is a much improved league which gives lots of opportunities to dual-registered younger players.

And yes England should be good at age-group level, but until recently they haven't been.

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Post by Cumbrian Wed 31 Aug 2011, 9:14 pm

I wouldn’t say it is the best in the world, but it’s been the best we’ve ever had. I’m personally really encouraged. People forget that it’s a recent development though. The first time England got to the final of the JWC was only in 2008.

As for saying England don’t bring on youngsters, look at the England team going to the World Cup. All of these have been through age grade rugby since 2007

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Post by wrfc1980 Wed 31 Aug 2011, 9:30 pm

You missed Tom Wood

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Post by RubyGuby Wed 31 Aug 2011, 9:55 pm

So why do they need so many Saffers, NZ'rs and Tuilagians come the real deal? thumbsup

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Post by DaveM Wed 31 Aug 2011, 10:06 pm

2008 side:

N Cato; M Odejobi (S Stegman 76), L Eves, J Turner-Hall (R Mller 61), M Benjamin; A Goode, J Simpson (B Youngs 46); N Catt, J Gray (S Freer 72), A Corbisiero (B Moss 54), B Thomas, G Gillanders (S Hobson 54), J Fisher, C Clark, H Ellis (capt, M Cox 65).

Only Corbs has so far established himself, but Simpson, JTH, Benjamin, Cato, Gray, Goode and Clark still have a chance. Maybe Stegman too.

2009:

Tom Homer (London Irish); George Lowe (Harlequins), Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby), Luke Eves (Bristol Rugby), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby); Rory Clegg (Newcastle Falcons), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs), James Clark (London Irish), Bob Baker (London Wasps), Graham Kitchener (Worcester Warriors), James Gaskell (Sale Sharks), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Calum Clark (Leeds Carnegie, capt), Carl Fearns (Sale Sharks). Replacements: Jamie George (Saracens) for J Clark 33, Shaun Knight (Gloucester Rugby) for Baker 56, Jack Cobden (Leicester Tigers) for Sharples 59. Not used: Dan Williams (Gloucester Rugby), Josh Ovens (Bath Rugby), Dave Lewis (Gloucester Rugby), Rob Miller (Newcastle Falcons).

Much improved. Of the starters I'd say only Eves and the front row have little chance of playing for England everyone else is a possible. Bench is slightly weaker, but George and Lewis may figure, and I think Miller has something about him.

2010 (from losing 3rd place play-off): England U20: Tom Homer (London Irish); Christian Wade (London Wasps), Jonny May (Gloucester), Tom Casson (Harlequins); Marcus Watson (London Irish), Freddie Burns (Gloucester), Sam Harrison (Leicester Tigers); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Jamie George (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Bristol), Calum Green (Leicester Tigers), George Kruis (Saracens), Will Welch (Newcastle Falcons), Jacob Rowan (Leeds Carnegie, captain), Jamie Gibson (London Irish)

Replacements: Rob Buchanan (Harlequins) for George 56, Shaun Knight (Gloucester) for Vunipola 45, Charlie Matthews (Harlequins) for Kruis 51, Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons) for Welch 65, Charlie Davies (Stade Francais) for Harrison 51, Rory Clegg (Harlequins) for Casson 53, Sam Smith (Harlequins) for Burns 60.

More of a mixed bag. Homer, May, Clegg and Burns from the backs, the front row (including the missing Imolek and Buchanan) and the backrows (depending on how Rowan comes on) are the best prospects. I like Casson but he needs more game time if he's to progress. Sam Smith is a decent prospect too. Kruis and Harrison can't be ruled out yet either, or the missing Jackson Wray.

2011:

15) Ben Ransom (Saracens)
14) Andy Short (Worcester Warriors)
13) Elliot Daly (London Wasps)
12) Owen Farrell (Saracens)
11) Christian Wade (London Wasps)
10) George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
9) Chris Cook (Bath Rugby)
1) Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
2) Mikey Haywood (Northampton Saints)
3) Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
4) Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
5) Charlie Matthews (Harlequins)
6) Sam Jones (London Wasps)
7) Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors)
8) Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons)

Replacements:

16) Rob Buchanan (Harlequins)
17) Will Collier (Harlequins)
18) Sam Twomey
19) Matt Everard
20) Dan Robson
21) Ryan Mills
22) Marland Yarde

Not sure about Cook, Wade and Short from the starters. Everyone else if worth keeping an eye on. On the bench Yarde and Collier, as well as the aforementioned Buchanan. Given the shortage of 12's hopefully Mills will kick on.


A lot of decent players have come through the u20s in the last 4 years to get regular AP action, and there is plenty of time for more to progress to senior honours.

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Post by nottins_jones Wed 31 Aug 2011, 10:15 pm

Been an interesting debate but I'm still wondering why you're bragging over beating a bunch of school rejects? The same thing happened when England U18 beat South Africa Schools.
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Post by DaveM Wed 31 Aug 2011, 10:28 pm

RubyGuby wrote:So why do they need so many Saffers, NZ'rs and Tuilagians come the real deal? thumbsup
Because the 2008 side only started breaking through in 2010, and the rest are understandably further back. By 2015 about 6 u20 sides will have been and gone and had time to progress to senior honours, and the England side will be full of academy produced players.

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Post by RubyGuby Wed 31 Aug 2011, 10:31 pm

DaveM wrote:
RubyGuby wrote:So why do they need so many Saffers, NZ'rs and Tuilagians come the real deal? thumbsup
Because the 2008 side only started breaking through in 2010, and the rest are understandably further back. By 2015 about 6 u20 sides will have been and gone and had time to progress to senior honours, and the England side will be full of academy produced players.

And I guess they'll all live happily ever after as well thumbsup

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Post by DaveM Wed 31 Aug 2011, 10:34 pm

nottins_jones wrote:Been an interesting debate but I'm still wondering why you're bragging over beating a bunch of school rejects? The same thing happened when England U18 beat South Africa Schools.

It was a Test match, the best u-18 players in Aus versus most of the best English u-18 players. When the side that would become the 2009 England u20 side (which was very good and which has produced loads of AP regulars) went to Aus in 2007 they lost the corresponding fixture 11-3. Indeed that England side barely scraped past Australia A (17-16), where-as this one niled them.

But the main point is the claim by the England rep that nobody is now better at producing young players.

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Post by nottins_jones Wed 31 Aug 2011, 10:50 pm

I find it strainge that they wouldn't call themselves Aus U18. I thought the Schools team were a bit of an A team themselves. The only time you see the best players in the Aus schools team is when they face NZ schools.
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Post by DaveM Thu 01 Sep 2011, 12:15 am

NH trips to the SH are rare at u18 level. No way the Aussies wouldn't have taken the opportunity to give their best young players rare game time against a NH side, anymore than England wouldn't put out the best side they could to play a visiting SH side.

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Post by DaveM Thu 01 Sep 2011, 12:20 am

RubyGuby wrote:
And I guess they'll all live happily ever after as well thumbsup

Yes, I think English rugby will. thumbsup

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Post by nottins_jones Thu 01 Sep 2011, 1:02 am

DaveM wrote:NH trips to the SH are rare at u18 level. No way the Aussies wouldn't have taken the opportunity to give their best young players rare game time against a NH side, anymore than England wouldn't put out the best side they could to play a visiting SH side.

Last time Aus visited (I can't remember if it were Aus schools tbh) they played England North then England South. Played Wales in their last game and pipped us at the end for the win I think.

Unless I see proof (at least from an Aussie) that Aus schools was their best available team IE U18 test level equalivilent then I'll carry on believing it's propaganda thought up by England fans to put gloss on this tour.
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Post by HammerofThunor Thu 01 Sep 2011, 7:24 am

nottins_jones wrote:
DaveM wrote:NH trips to the SH are rare at u18 level. No way the Aussies wouldn't have taken the opportunity to give their best young players rare game time against a NH side, anymore than England wouldn't put out the best side they could to play a visiting SH side.

Last time Aus visited (I can't remember if it were Aus schools tbh) they played England North then England South. Played Wales in their last game and pipped us at the end for the win I think.

Unless I see proof (at least from an Aussie) that Aus schools was their best available team IE U18 test level equalivilent then I'll carry on believing it's propaganda thought up by England fans to put gloss on this tour.

Good for you. Bet you can't find any games played by an Australia U18 (in the same period the Schools team exists).

Regarding the "need" for foreign players. They're just selecting the best players the coaches think are available (of course Tuilagi has been learning his rugby here since he was 13 so was he developed by the system or not?). It's not like they're actively looking to bring people in like Wales and Scotland did in the past. Just trying to make the best of ALL the resources available.

EDIT: Hint, try looking at the ARU website.


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Post by Biltong Thu 01 Sep 2011, 7:38 am

currently it is difficult for SA age groups to be at their best. The reasoning is simple really.

There is a mandated quota system at Craven week which provides that a specific number 9 players ina squad must be non whites. Now currently this has a two edged sword.

The coaches have no choice but to select 9 players of colour, and there for many white kids do not get the opportunity, but the other side of the coin is the mental attitiude of these coaches having to deal with this when it comes to development and fast tracking of these players.

A large proportion of these coloured players get lost after they leave school because the professional franchises won't pay a contractual salary to these players if in their opinion they aren't up to standard.

so you have a situation where the enforced quota system has a negative effect on the development of these players, because they are told they must do it.

If they were to remove this system and just allow the coaches to select the best players, regardless of colour of skin, you might find that their attitude towards the whole enforced situation will change, and they will automatically pick the best players.

Only if they get to that point, will we truly be able to measure ourselves without compromise.
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Post by RubyGuby Thu 01 Sep 2011, 7:53 am

Bilton - to be honest England have a similar ystem where 50% of the players must be english thumbsup

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Post by Biltong Thu 01 Sep 2011, 8:18 am

RubyGuby wrote:Bilton - to be honest England have a similar ystem where 50% of the players must be english thumbsup

You made a funny! Yahoo
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Post by GavinDragon Thu 01 Sep 2011, 8:37 am

on the subject of junior sides i am quite alarmed at the decline in performances of the wales u20 side over the last 3-4 years,

in 2008 JWC they finished 4th after losing to new zealand in the semis at rodney parade then being humbled by south africa in the play off

in 2009 they finished 6th

2010 7th

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Post by bathmad Thu 01 Sep 2011, 11:19 am

And in 2011, weren't they "nilled" by NZ in a humiliating defeat?

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Post by beshocked Thu 01 Sep 2011, 11:32 am

Owen Farrell,Noah Cato and Alex Goode have all won the AP.

James Short who came from nowhere has won the AP too.

Jamie George, Jackson Wray and George Kruis will get more gametime this season for Saracens.

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Post by GavinDragon Thu 01 Sep 2011, 11:43 am

yep 92-0 i believe

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Post by Cumbrian Thu 01 Sep 2011, 5:08 pm

nottins_jones wrote:
DaveM wrote:NH trips to the SH are rare at u18 level. No way the Aussies wouldn't have taken the opportunity to give their best young players rare game time against a NH side, anymore than England wouldn't put out the best side they could to play a visiting SH side.

Last time Aus visited (I can't remember if it were Aus schools tbh) they played England North then England South. Played Wales in their last game and pipped us at the end for the win I think.

Unless I see proof (at least from an Aussie) that Aus schools was their best available team IE U18 test level equalivilent then I'll carry on believing it's propaganda thought up by England fans to put gloss on this tour.

England have just completed an unbeaten three match tour of Australia beating their U19's academy, their U18's A team and their U18's first team in a 'Test match'. Exactly how much more gloss needs to be put on the tour?

http://www.rugby.com.au/FixturesResults/AustralianSchoolboys.aspx


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Post by TheGreyGhost Thu 01 Sep 2011, 5:44 pm

Did they not tour NZ for fear of losing?

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Post by fa0019 Thu 01 Sep 2011, 6:31 pm

TheGreyGhost

Perhaps NZ should withdraw from the RWC for fear of losing?

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Post by Cumbrian Thu 01 Sep 2011, 6:44 pm

TheGreyGhost wrote:Did they not tour NZ for fear of losing?

Yeah, that'll be why.
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England have best junior programme in world rugby Empty Re: England have best junior programme in world rugby

Post by Feckless Rogue Thu 01 Sep 2011, 8:44 pm

England have always had very good results at under age. Because their packs are HUGE! One area where greater population is a big plus is the number of freakishly large forward players they can unearth. Forward power has always been England's strength. And it seems to be an even bigger advantage at underage when smaller forwards in the likes of Ireland are physically less developed.

If it's true that they're producing backs that pass better than the Kiwi's then it's good times ahead for them I suppose. It's a big claim to make. I think a big problem for English rugby is the conservative style of rugby played in the Jeff. There's a similar problem in the French Top 14, but at least they have Toulouse and Clermont. What clubs in England play that quality of attacking rugby?

If there are brilliant backs coming through in English academies then the clubs need to back their talent with more innovative coaching and riskier tactics. If these youngsters as good as is being said, then relegation shouldn't be a worry. This reminds me of Geech's suggestion of ringfencing the league. It would give players space to express themselves and develop their skills, and end the constraints of the stuffy conservatism of the Jeff.
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England have best junior programme in world rugby Empty Re: England have best junior programme in world rugby

Post by Feckless Rogue Thu 01 Sep 2011, 8:52 pm

By the way Biltong, I think that quota sytem in South Africa is mind numbingly stupid. If the powers that be want more black Sringboks, then it's up to them to encourage black kids to take up the game. When it becomes more popular to play then plenty of terrific black athletes would naturally earn a Springbok jersey on merit. Just look at the NFL in America.
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Post by Biltong Thu 01 Sep 2011, 9:23 pm

Feckless Rogue wrote:By the way Biltong, I think that quota sytem in South Africa is mind numbingly stupid. If the powers that be want more black Sringboks, then it's up to them to encourage black kids to take up the game. When it becomes more popular to play then plenty of terrific black athletes would naturally earn a Springbok jersey on merit. Just look at the NFL in America.

I think they know that, but because they have the power they can rewrite history any way they see fit. with they I mean the ANC.
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England have best junior programme in world rugby Empty Re: England have best junior programme in world rugby

Post by Feckless Rogue Thu 01 Sep 2011, 9:37 pm

Don't know much about the ANC buddy. From Ireland's experience, when a people win freedom they tend to stick loyally by the leaders/groups that won them that freedom for far to long. When said leaders are comfortable in power the whiff of corruption is never to far away. I'm sure there's some good people in the ANC though. The eejits mightn't prevail in the long run.
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England have best junior programme in world rugby Empty Re: England have best junior programme in world rugby

Post by nottins_jones Thu 01 Sep 2011, 9:38 pm

Cumbrian, that's the gloss I was talking about. Thanks for showing me that site. I suppose it does make sense (schoolboys Rugby) seeing as that's how they do it in the SH.

Furthermore, why haven't any of the other 6 Nations Academies toured the SH yet? This is just giving England another advantage over their European opponenets IMO yet we're doing nothing to catch up.
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Post by Biltong Thu 01 Sep 2011, 9:40 pm

Nottins France just had their under 18's for a two match tour to SA.

France won the first match 16-0 I think
SA won the second 21 - 14

It was now just a few weeks ago.

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Post by DaveM Thu 01 Sep 2011, 9:50 pm

nottins_jones wrote:Cumbrian, that's the gloss I was talking about. Thanks for showing me that site. I suppose it does make sense (schoolboys Rugby) seeing as that's how they do it in the SH.

Furthermore, why haven't any of the other 6 Nations Academies toured the SH yet? This is just giving England another advantage over their European opponenets IMO yet we're doing nothing to catch up.

I'm pretty sure you could rename England u18s as England schoolboys as, without checking, I believe they are all still at school. It was an excellent tour. I think they did SA last summer, so maybe they'll be off the NZ next year. It would certainly be an excellent experience for them.

Why don't England, Scotland and Wales do the same.? To be honest I suspect it is cost, and this is where the RFU's deeper pockets come in handy.

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Post by nottins_jones Thu 01 Sep 2011, 9:57 pm

Ok, so the wealthy Unions ARE doing it then. Wales should be bending over backwards to do it if they care about our player development.
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Post by DaveM Thu 01 Sep 2011, 10:02 pm

So, best (potential) side from the last 4 u20s:

Corbisero
George
Thomas
Launchbury
Lawes
Gibson
Kvesic
Fearns
Youngs
Ford
Sharples
Farell
Trinder
May
Homer

Or maybe

Marler
Joe Gray
Vunipola
Kitchener
Gaskell
Callum Clark
Welch
Alex Gray
Simpson
Burns
Benjamin
JTH
Daly
Cato
Ransom

And no place for Goode (although I was tempted to stick him at IC in the second team) or Clegg. English strength in depth will improve significantly over the next few years as a result of the academy programme.

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Post by DaveM Thu 01 Sep 2011, 10:04 pm

nottins_jones wrote:Ok, so the wealthy Unions ARE doing it then. Wales should be bending over backwards to do it if they care about our player development.

Well it's taken you years to get back to having an A-team.

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