- Rugby coach from North Midlands named as final squad member
- 25 players leave for Belgium next week
Photo: RFU Archive
Michael Hill (Birmingham Bees and North Midlands) has been named as the final member of the England Counties squad to tour Belgium next week.
The initial announcement listed 25 players with one place to be confirmed following the County Championship Finals at Twickenham on Sunday May 26.
Hill was one of ten squad members who ran out onto the hallowed turf and impressed England Counties team manager Michael Old.
“I was out for dinner with my mates when I got the call from Mike to let me know I’d been called up,” said Hill. “I was totally taken by surprise. It was slightly overwhelming but very exciting at the same time.
“It is a great opportunity to develop my game. I know players speak very highly of the England Counties set-up so I’m looking forward to being in a new environment and experiencing different coaching styles.”
The squad meet on Friday (June 7) before departing for Belgium by Eurostar the following day. They take on a Belgium President’s Select in Brussels on Wednesday June 12 before playing Belgium in Tubize on Sunday June 16.
“It will be good to meet the other guys at the end of this week, settle into camp and hopefully put forward a case for selection for the first game so that I can show what I can do.” Hill added.
The self-employed rugby coach was part of the North Midlands side that lost out to Northumberland (45-10) in the County Championship Division Two Plate Final.
“Playing at Twickenham was very exciting,” said Hill, “But once you get stuck in you don’t notice the surroundings as much, you focus on the game and try to do everything you can for the County. I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play there, not many people can say that.
“We knew from the outset that it was going to be a tough challenge. We started strongly and took the lead but Northumberland showed their strength and unity. We didn’t give up and were determined to get a final score to finish on a high ahead of next time we meet up. Hopefully, a number of the squad will be available for selection next year so that we can build on the experience.”
England Counties squad for Belgium:
Harry Broadbent (Caldy & Cheshire)
Royce Cadman (Hull Ionians & Yorkshire)
Mark George* (Stourbridge & Gloucestershire)
Matt Hall* (Blaydon & Northumberland)
Michael Hill (Birmingham Bees and North Midlands)
Ben Hilton* (Launceston & Cornwall)
Steve Hipwell (Cambridge & Eastern Counties)
Darren Jacques* (Redruth & Cornwall)
Robbie Kalbraier* (Blaydon & Northumberland)
Adam Kettle (Doncaster & Cheshire)
James Lindfield (Blackheath & Kent)
Brett McNamee (Old Albanian & Hertfordshire)
Tom Stradwick* (Blackheath & Kent)
Chris Wearmouth*(Blaydon & Durham)
Drew Cheshire (Luctonians & North Midlands)
Nevaro Codlin (Cinderford & Gloucestershire)
Chris Hallam (Doncaster & Yorkshire)
Chris Harris (Tynedale & Northumberland)
Matt Heeks* (Rosslyn Park & Eastern Counties)
Chris Johnson* (Fylde & Lancashire)
Rhys Owen (Loughborough & North Midlands)
Heath Stevens (Plymouth & East Midlands)
Sean Taylor (Preston & Lancashire)
Ollie Thomas* (Moseley & North Midlands)
Nielson Webber (Launceston & Cornwall)
Jim Wigglesworth* (Cambridge & Yorkshire)
*Capped by the England Counties