- England Head Coach backs RFU Championship XV fixture against Maori All Blacks
- Former Leeds Carnegie Head Coach knows first hand the challenges of the second tier
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has applauded the RFU Championship XV fixture against the Maori All Blacks at Castle Park, home of Doncaster Knights, on Saturday.
Following England’s 54-12 win over Fiji at Twickenham, Lancaster said: “I think it’s an unbelievable opportunity for those players that get the chance to play, it gives them the opportunity to work with players and coaches from other clubs and they will be able to test themselves against what should be a formidable Maori challenge.”
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While the first of its kind in the RFU Championship, Lancaster, who coached Leeds Carnegie for two season in the division, recalls an English National Division XV not only taking on a touring South Africa side in 2000, but beating them in a thrilling 35-30 victory at Sixways Stadium.
“It’s an excellent initiative and I remember being involved in one or two as a player myself. I remember one particular time when the first division played against South Africa and actually beat them. That experience is brilliant for their development.”
It’s a very tough competitive league - Lancaster
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Many of the England Senior team including Dan Cole, Owen Farrell, Mourtiz Botha and latest England recruits Tom Youngs and Mako Vunipola, have passed through the RFU Championship and as the England head coach knows, the competition continues to play a vital role in the development of top quality players.
“For young players the only way to develop is playing week-in, week-out so The Championship is the perfect vehicle for that. A lot of young England players who are now in the squad have benefited from playing in it, so it’s a very tough competitive league.
“I have been through it myself trying to get a team promoted and know first-hand it’s very very difficult. But the quality is improving and depth is improving which makes it all the better for our player development systems.”
RFU Championship XV v Maori All Blacks, Saturday November 17, Castle Park, Doncaster. KO 1205. Tickets: www.drfc.co.uk.