March 13, 2008
The 26 players in the England Under 16 A squad will have a final training camp and practice match at Solihull School this weekend.
It is the last chance for lead coach Gareth Rees's assistants Steve Shortland (forwards) and Mark Hanslip (backs) to run the rule over the squad before the Millfield International Festival (March 31-April 6) when England U16 A will take on teams from France, the USA and Wales.
Saracens Academy U17 will provide the practice opposition this Sunday, having previously lost 47-10 to the full England U16 team on March 2.
England U16 A centre Guy Armitage was a try scorer for Wellington College in their Daily Mail Under-18 Schools Cup semi-final win over Warwick School last Saturday.
Guy has three older brothers playing rugby: England Saxons full back/centre Delon is playing alongside flanker Steffon in the Premiership for London Irish, while centre Bevon is with Esher in National League One when he is not away with West Indies in the IRB Sevens.
Next in line is Joel, 12, not forgetting the Armitage brothers' seven-year-old sister Juanita.
"This is our last training weekend and the squad is looking a well-balanced one," said David Maughan, England U16 A team manager.
"After the initial disappointment among the boys when they were told they were not in the full England squad, at the Hartpury College camp in February, they have gelled together in the A squad really well.
"There has been no sulking around in corners, they have all taken up the challenge of working together as a team."
England U16 A have played two practice matches to date, defeating The Rest 37-5 at Hartpury College (February 23) and the Midlands Division 65-10 at Solihull School (March 2).
Last weekend, when the England U16 squad had a training camp at Cokethorpe School preparing for their Four Nations Tournament in France, and this weekend are the first occasions the two groups have been separated.
"The A squad have been getting everything the first team have got in terms of coaching and medical back-up," said Maughan.
"All the boys know this is about development and things can change for them in the future.
"One of the stars of this season's England Under 18 Conference side, RGS High Wycombe and London Wasps academy wing Christian Wade, was in our England U16 A squad last year.
"And I have noticed Oliver Lindsay-Hague at Millfield School and Joe Glover at John Cleveland College having prominent seasons with their schools after representing England U16 A last season."
Player development is the principal aim of the Millfield International Festival, which also features U17 teams from Canada, Portugal, Romania and Scotland.
"We take it seriously but there is no trophy to win so you cannot say you are the best team in the event," said Maughan.
"It is balanced so that some of the less experienced nations can play good rugby, and our boys get a good run-out too.
"The rules are that every one of the 26 players must start at least one match and play at least a half. We have got used to this over the last couple of years and though there is still a fair amount of second-guessing in selection, it prevents any one being hidden by just playing 10 minutes here or there.
"One of the intriguing aspects of this weekend at Solihull School will be the management and coaches confirming the England U16 A captain and at least one vice-captain."
England Under-16 A squad
(for Solihull School development session March 14-16 including practice match v Saracens Academy U17, Sunday, 12.30pm):
Joshua Allan (centre, North Halifax Grammar & Yorkshire),
Guy Armitage (outside centre, Wellington College & Berkshire)
Thomas Barrett (fly half, Sedbergh School & Yorkshire)
William Dunkley (centre, Bedford School & East Midlands)
George Elliott (centre, Easingwold School & Yorkshire)
Mike Hogan (scrum half, King Edward VII & Eastern Counties)
Ryan Mills (fly half, West Exe Technology College & Devon)
Ben Ransom (full back, Tonbridge School & Kent)
Charlie Sadler (full back, St Benedict's College & Eastern Counties)
Oliver Shaw (scrum half, Bradford Grammar & Yorkshire)
James Trueman (wing, Solihull School & Warwickshire)
Marland Yarde (wing, Gunnersbury Boys Catholic School & Middlesex)
William Bigley (tighthead prop, Wellingborough School & East Midlands)
Alistair Bone (No.8, Harrow School & Middlesex)
Koree Britton (hooker, Kingsbridge Community College & Devon)
George Burkinshaw (loosehead prop, Ecclesfield School & Yorkshire)
Charles Clare (hooker, Sedbergh School & Yorkshire)
Samuel Farmer (back row, Bedford School & East Midlands)
Samuel Heygate (No.8, Guilsborough School & East Midlands)
Addison Lockley (second row, Ivybridge College & Devon)
Sam Northcote-Green (flanker, Dulwich College & Surrey)
Louis Padian (loosehead prop, Bishop Challoner Sports College & North Midlands)
William Radburn (blindside flanker, Tudor Grange & North Midlands)
William Skuse (blindside flanker, Penair School & Cornwall)
James Stephenson (openside flanker, Canford School & Dorset and Wiltshire)
Thomas Williams (tighthead prop, Abraham Darby & North Midlands)
Saracens Academy Under 17:
Ben Sharpington; Michael Ayrton, Louis Gabriel, Steve Ellis, Jamie Hearn; Jake Sharp, Luke Baldwin; Rory Day, Pat Reed, Declan Caulfield, Matthew Sinderberry, Matt Haycock, Sean Vine, Tom Wheeler, Jackson Wray.
Replacements: Alex Casey, Garry Baker, Rob Conquest, Henry Fraser, Tom Muldoon, Jack Neil, Jack Masters.