- England Women U20s take on France, USA, Canada and South Africa this season
- First international Test for England’s young guns on February 23
Whilst England Men and Women take on France at Twickenham on February 23, England’s best up and coming players will also be in action against their Gallic neighbours – the U20s men playing at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium and the U20s Women at Esher RFC, kick off 2pm.
After a 3-0 series defeat to France last year, there’s no doubt that England Women’s young guns will face a tough battle at Moseley Road later this month but Head Coach Amanda Bennett is confident that the gap has been closed.
“Losing three times against France last year was deeply disappointing and even though we reduced a 50-point deficit in February to a six-point deficit less than a month later, we know that England U20s have got to work that much harder as playing on the international stage is getting tougher every year,” said Bennett.
“Since last season we’ve focused on the basics – something all world-class teams do – and making sure the squad have the physical capacity and physicality to compete. We are looking forward to playing France again and start this year’s campaign on home soil so a big performance from each player is what we all want.”
The England U20s set-up has clearly proved to be a fantastic pathway for England’s future stars with most recently the likes of Saracens’ Hannah Gallagher and Richmond’s Alexandra Matthews making the step up to the Elite Playing Squad. Both players featured in this season’s 3-0 series whitewash of world champions New Zealand, and Gallagher has featured in this year’s Six Nations championship while Matthews has been included in England’s Rugby World Cup Sevens training squad.
“It’s important to remember that winning games is one measure of success and the U20s programme is just as focused, if not more so, on individual performance development,” added Bennett. “Players such as Ceri Large, Amber Reed, Alex Matthews, Fiona Davidson and Hannah Gallagher have all won full caps for England since 2011, which means the England U20s is delivering at the top end.”
England U20s will also take on France for a return fixture in Dijon on March 15 before a Nations Cup campaign against the USA, Canada and South Africa in July. The tournament will be played out of Trent College.