- Italy and Wales Tests for Under 16s
- Shortland to succeed Stanlake
Photo: RFU Archive
England Under 16s head coach Phil Stanlake will end his nine-year association with the side after next week’s internationals against Italy Under 17s at Lichfield (April 1) and Wales Under 16s at Oxford University (April 6).
The former Cheltenham fly half was assistant coach before he stepped up to lead the coaching team four years ago and will be aiming to complete a third successive season unbeaten against familiar opponents.
Stanlake, who is assistant head at Crypt School in Gloucester, has seen the likes of Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell progress from the Under 16s team to become senior England internationals while England Sevens pair Sam Edgerley and Marcus Watson are two more of his protégés.
“It’s always nice to see players that you have worked with come through and win international honours but I also enjoy having a look at the Aviva Premiership sides, particularly in the LV= Cup, and see them giving opportunities to youngsters who have come through the Under 16s system,” Stanlake said.
Stanlake will say a fond but sad farewell to England Under 16s after the Wales game and will hand over the reins to Steve Shortland, the former Headingley and Wasps lock, who is currently one of the assistant coaches.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make but it was one that was made a long time ago, which has made it easier and it has meant that there is a managed handover with Steve already in place as my successor,” Stanlake said.
“It’s quite a big commitment and the school have been brilliant; they have never had an issue with it.
“But nine years is a long time, and I was with the A team before that, and I felt it was time for a different voice and different leadership.
“While it’s a slightly sad time for me I will look back on all the great times I have had with the side – the players, coaches and management – which makes it worthwhile.
“At the moment it’s a case of focusing on these two matches and worrying about finishing afterwards.”
England had two tough warm-up matches against Gloucester Under 17s and Northampton Saints Under 17s and Stanlake was encouraged by the performances in both games.
“The Gloucester match was played on a horrible wet day but we scored four or five tries. Northampton were one of the best Under 17 sides I have seen so far and they really tested us up front and in all areas.
“We went three tries to one down but got it back to 3-3 before Northampton got one late on to win it.
“The encouraging thing was that the players looked at areas we had identified from the first game and worked on them.”
England have no injury worries going into their opening match against an Italy side who usually pose a stern physical challenge.
“Italy will be a stern test, as they always are,” Stanlake said. “It’s a case of the players believing in what we are doing, working hard and applying it.”
Tickets for the England Under 16s v Italy Under 17s match at Lichfield on April 1 are priced at £5 per adult and £3 per child and are available over the bar at the club or from lrufcinternational.ticketsource.co.uk.
Tickets for the England Under 16s v Wales Under 16s match at Iffley Road, Oxford on April 6 are priced at £5 for adults and £2 for concessions (over 60s, under 18s and students) and are available from the club office on 01865 432000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both matches kick off at 2.30pm.
England Under 16 squad
Backs: Matt Gallagher (Colfe’s School, Old Colfeians RFC and Kent), Dominic Morris (New Hall School and Essex), Nick Harris (Sherborne School and Dorset & Wilts), Jack Maunders (Blundells School and Devon), Owain James (Harrow School and Middlesex), Paddy McDuell (Bedford School, Bedford Junior Blues and East Midlands), Rotimi Segun (Northampton School for Boys, Old Northamptonians RFC and East Midlands), Sam Allen (Crossley Heath School and Yorkshire), Favour Maduka (Stonyhurst College and Lancashire), Alex Mitchell (Lymm HS, Lymm RFC and Cheshire)
Forwards: Joe Mullis (Chosen Hill School, Chosen Hill RFC and Gloucestershire), Harry Wilson (Kingshill School, Cirencester RFC and Gloucestershire), Jack Stanley (Helston College, Penzance RFC and Cornwall), Mofe Wilkey (Trinity School and Surrey), Billy Walker (Great Baddow HS, Chelmsford RFC and Essex), Alex Munday (Berkhamsted School, Harpenden RFC and Hertfordshire), Freddie Davison (Bedford School, Bedford Junior Blues and East Midlands), Henry Peck (Vandyke School, Leighton Buzzard RFC and East Midlands), Garth Spencer (Biddenham Upper School, Bedford Junior Blues and East Midlands), Callum Chick (Ponteland HS, Ponteland HS and Northumberland), James Gilboy (Stockport GS, Manchester RFC and Cheshire), Victor Keunen (Stonyhurst College, Harlequins and Lancashire)