- England Counties head for three-match tour to Spain in June
- Mile Old's side will play Madrid, Castilla Leon Union and Spain
Photo: RFU Archive
England Counties, the representative flagship of the community game outside the Aviva Premiership, will play three matches in Spain in June 2011.
The summer tour, from May 31 to June 12, will include games against a Madrid XV (Saturday, June 4 in Madrid), a Castilla Leon Union XV (Wednesday, June 8 in Salamanca) and a match against a Spain XV (June 11 in Valladolid).
The Spanish are currently 23rd in the International Rugby Board rankings behind Namibia and ahead of Chile and are currently in the news for having a side in the Hong Kong sevens for the first time since 2009. They played in the World Cup in 1999 and currently have 20,016 players registered with 220 clubs.
England Counties have met the Spanish national side once previously. Both took part in a FIRA Festival in South West France in 2007, when they were 21-15 winners in Morlaas.
"The Spanish tour will be the second part of our 2011 programme and will focus our attention on the Bill Beaumont County Championship matches from which the players will be chosen," said Counties Manager Mike Old.
"The 14-day trip will provide a great rugby experience for the players in terms of their development and I’m sure that the Spanish teams will all ensure that the work we do on the practice ground is fully tested.
"There will also be some outreach work with local youngsters which has proved very popular with our players on our last two trips to Korea/Japan and Canada and which adds an extra dimension to our programme.
"I know from the time I’ve been involved with the Counties just how much players get out of these trips and how much added value they take back to their clubs. Inevitably, there are issues surrounding selection with the club programme running into the County Championship slot and players being affected by the decision of some CBs not to enter teams.
"The basic principles of qualification through playing County rugby will still apply as our raison d’etre is to enhance that competition and encourage people to play in it. Where anomalies occur in counties which do not participate in the championship, we have to make certain sensible concessions and look at the greater good of the competition and players who want to take part in the Championship."