- Budding rugby players to compete against international counterparts next week
- "It's a fantastic opportunity to develop" – John Fletcher
Photo: Capture the event
Wellington College will host 100 Under 16 rugby players next week as they take on their first challenges in international rugby.
The youngsters will be following in the footsteps of England Rugby’s development pathway graduates Owen Farrell and George Ford and hope to emulate their success with strong performances at the BMW Wellington International Festival.
The selection process began last March, with the players now having the opportunity to represent their division – Midlands, North, London and the South East and South West – and play against each other and against opposition from Scotland, Italy, France and Wales.
All 100 will play in matches on Sunday, April 13 and Wednesday, April 16 before 23 are selected for the England U16s squad to play Scotland U16s on the final day of competition. The same players will then also take on Wales U16s at Neath RFC (Sunday 27).
The BMW International Festival is the climax of a development programme which has included a number of divisional training camps for 25 players from each of the four regions.
The U16s were incorporated into the RFU’s Professional Rugby Department for this first time this season to provide greater continuity for players progressing through the age-grade teams and the player development pathway.
Photo: Capture the event
The delivery of the programme has relied on close working relationships between school, counties, academies, divisional and the national set-up and, as a result, more players have benefited from quality coaching, high -level competition and lifestyle education.
Speaking ahead of the festival, RFU Professional Player Development Manager John Fletcher said: “At the start of the season we set out some objectives on how we want to play and train based on the national themes that we deliver from U15 to U17.
“We have worked closely with the divisional and national coaches aligning what we do in the U18s and U20s ensuring continuity of selection and playing styles. Bringing together the selected players from across the country has challenged them but in an environment which encourages expression and for the players to make decisions for themselves.
“The programme is based on player centred, development driven and competition supported principles and the coming week is the final part, it is a fantastic opportunity for 100 English talented young players to test themselves against international opposition and further their development.”