- England Counties XV to tour Canada in June
- Unbeaten record on the line in after wins in 2004 and 2008
The England Counties XV squad will have a three-match summer tour to Canada to provide added incentive when they face spring internationals against Ireland and France in February and March.
The Counties XV, the representative flagship of the county and community game, will be visiting Canada for the third time after trips their in 2004 and 2008.
They have games against The Rock in St John’s, Newfoundland on June 4; Ontario Blues in Toronto on June 8; and British Columbia Bears in Vancouver on June 12.
The Counties have won all three previous games in Canada, but Manager Danny Hodgson is well aware that while the calibre of successive Counties XV teams is growing, so too are the standards in North America.
"While our last visit two years ago brought is a couple of fairly straightforward wins over USA teams in New York, we had to produce a real fighting display to come from behind to win against a Canada Select XV in Chatham," he says.
"Canada are working hard in many directions to drive their national game forward and are keen to get all the international exposure they can for their players. As we found in a very rural community like Chatham, the traditional rugby ethos is very much alive, so in addition to providing a competitive, rugby development process for our players, I’m sure they will also enjoy another great touring experience.
"We have always prided ourselves on the fact that our players come back from overseas tours as better players and that will be our aim in Canada. There is every incentive for the lads in the squad for the Ireland and France games to really give it their best shot. This is a serious prize that is really worth striving for.
"As usual, selection for the spring internationals is made from performances in the National Leagues, whereas involvement in the County Championship remains a pre-requisite to eligibility for our tour squads. This season club games postponed because of the bad weather may impact on County Championship selection, but players on the Canada tour will need to have either played in or made themselves available for County rugby.”
England Counties will meet an Ireland Club XV on Friday, February 26 at Stourbridge RFC, kick-off 1930. The squad of 22 for that game will be finalised on Sunday (January 24).
The second spring game in be against France Amateurs on Friday, March 19 at Lille Olympique Sporting Club.