- Form teams provide core of Counties XV squad
- Manager Michael Old praises support from all clubs
Photo: Getty Images
England Counties XV selectors have named nine players from the leading two clubs in National Division One, London Scottish and Barking, in their squad of 22 for their game against Ulster Bank Club International Team at Old Belvedere RFC in Dublin on Friday, March 18, 2011.
Cambridge, third in National One, supply three players, while the remainder of the squad is drawn from eight different clubs, a spread which underlines the team’s reputation as the representative flagship of the game outside the two full-time professional divisions.
While the Barking and Scottish contingent will give the team a core of familiarity, the squad again includes another batch of players untried at this level, with 15 players set to wear a Counties shirt for the first time.
"I’m very pleased with the calibre of the squad and the cooperation we’ve had from the Directors of Rugby at all the clubs despite the fixture congestion which has built up," said Counties Manager Michael Old.
"We’ve had huge support from the clubs, who understand the honour of playing for England Counties and what the shirt means to their players.
"Seven selectors have been monitoring the national leagues for talent since the start of the season. We’ve also had input from our coaches as to the type of game we want to play in Ireland and have selected a 22 man squad which we feel can follow up on last year’s first win against Ireland with a first victory on Irish soil.
"There’s a good blend of experience and some talented youngsters who will thrive on the England Counties experience."
Plans for a Counties XV Summer tour are still being finalised, but that part of the two-phase programme involves different selection criteria to the Ireland game.
The principle difference in eligibility for the two strands of competition is that while the County Championship is a key element in the Summer Tour selection process, it is not a factor in choosing players for the Ireland match. For that, players must be England qualified who are representing and whose primary contract is with National League 1 & 2 clubs for the 2010/11 season.
England Counties Squad
Dave Allen* (Blackheath), Sam Beaumont (Fylde), Alex Clarke (London Scottish), Matt Hall* (Blaydon), Robbie Hurrell (Cambridge), James Kellard* (Barking), Aaron Liffchak (Barking), Dan Lloyd-Jones (Barking), Alex MacKenzie (Barking), James Ngan (Barking), Steve Pape* (Rosslyn Park), Tom Standfield (London Scottish).
James Brown* (London Scottish), Gareth Collins* (Leicester Lions), Peter Hodgkinson (EalingTrailfinders), David Howells* (London Scottish), Tom Jarvis* (Stourbridge), Stefan Liebenberg (Old Albanians), Ben Spencer (Cambridge), James Stephenson (Blackheath), Mike Waywell (Fylde), Tom Wheatcroft (Cambridge)
* denotes previous England Counties cap