This website uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more by viewing our privacy and cookie policy.

Academies help England close the gap

22 July 2002

Tosh Askew, the England Under-19s coach believes that the creation of Rugby Football Union's Regional Academies will help England close the gap on the southern hemisphere nations at youth level.
England finished a disappointing sixth in this year's FIRA Under-19 Championships, but Askew, the former Waterloo full-back who was appointed England's first full-time Under-19 coach last season, is confident that results will improve as players filter through from the academies.
Askew said: "There is still a gap between ourselves and the southern hemisphere, but I'm sure that the academies will help to address that.
"Southern hemisphere players are genetically a bigger breed of person and so that impacts a lot at this age group. Skill-wise we are getting closer as well but most of the southern hemisphere nations already have academies and they have been playing better and harder fixtures lists.
"Too many of our players have been playing too many comfortable matches too often whereas, in the southern hemisphere, their schools rugby etc. is much more physical and of a better standard than ours.
"But our academy system should help us to close that gap. It will give our best youngsters the chance to play against each other in competitive fixtures and allow us to monitor their development."
England began their preparations for a busy season of international rugby which will include the FIRA Championships in France between April 9 and 19 and, probably, the first Under-19 Six Nations Championship, with a squad session at Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire in July.
Askew and his assistant Nigel Redman, the former England and Bath lock, chose a provisional squad of 35, selected from the regional academies and last season's 18-Group Clubs and 18-Group Schools sides, for a week of intensive training and coaching with specialist sessions run by Brian Ashton, the National Academies director, and Simon Hardy, England's line-out throwing coach. Bromsgrove was chosen for its central location and because of its excellent sports facilities which include a swimming pool, astroturf pitches and a full-equipped gymnasium.
The squad will be trimmed down after a further session at Bromsgrove in October and a friendly international has been pencilled in against Ireland for November.
"We are already advanced from where we were last season," said Askew. "Then we didn't get together until October when we had a trial. This year we are three months ahead of that, we watched three Under-18 teams last season - the Schools January 1st and September 1st teams plus the Clubs side - and we've also had a feed of players from the academies.
"We probably won't have them together again until October but, as most of them are playing for the regional academies, we will be able to keep a check on their fitness and monitor their progress more easily than we have been able to in the past."



IBM TryTracker