- England Counties selectors have chosen their 30-strong squad
- 15 clubs represented in new-look outfit for Spring internationals
The England Counties XV, the representative flagship of the community game in England, today named a squad of 30 players for their two Spring internationals at an Ireland Club XV and France Amateurs.
With players drawn from 15 different clubs from Tynedale in the North to Redruth in the South West and all ports in between, the squad maintains the tradition which has been in place since the team was formed in 2002.
With 20 newcomers to the England Counties scene and only six members of the squad that returned unbeaten from a tour to Korea and Japan last year, the squad also fulfils its role as a player development vehicle and underlines the diligent work that has been put in since the start of the season by the selection panel.
"Given the recent weather, the decision to start our scouting programme right at the start of the season has proved very wise," says Team Manager Danny Hodgson.
"We have liaised closely with the Directors of Rugby across the country and had great support and cooperation from them. Every club has been watched and recommended players carefully monitored.
"The fact that we’ve had everyone on board this season has broadened the selection process and that’s one of the reasons why we have so many players who haven’t been with us previously. I reckon we’re as strong as we could hope to be gien that there will always be players who are unavailable for one reason or another."
The final selection process for the game against the Ireland Club XV will take place on January 16, when the squad will be cut to 22.
The Counties will be looking for their first win over the Irish when they meet them at Stourbridge RFC on Friday, February 26 (7.30) having previously lost 20-17 and drawn 13-13 in Dublin in 2008 and 2009.
There is also added incentive for the Counties when they travel to Lille on March 19, 2010 (8pm) in that the last game between the teams was the first to be played at Twickenham, with France winning 27-19.
England Counties XV squad:
John Williams (Tynedale), Matt Johnson (London Scottish), Sam Heard (Redruth), Tom Warren (Esher), Joe Graham (Tynedale), Ben Gerry (Stourbridge), James Inglis (Esher), Matt Owen (Macclesfield), Tom Bason (Blackheath), Ben Harris (Huddersfield), Dan Legge (Cambridge), Nick Sharpe (Huddersfield), Darren Fox (Cambridge), Alex Nash (Rugby), Sam Stitcher (Esher), Tom Powell (Cambridge), Tom Richardson (Stourbridge), Luke Baldwin (Blackheath), James Brown (London Scottish), Ross Laidlaw (Rosslyn Park), David Howells (London Scottish), Steve Parsons (Harrogate), Seb Jewell (Esher), Matt Riley (Sedgley Park), Jack Harrison (Tynedale), Kyle Dench (Harrogate), Sam Ulph (Esher), Rob Kitching (Hull), Frankie Neale (London Scottish), Peter Hodgkinson (Ealing).