- Hood expects physical challenge
- Outreach coaching programme a success
England Counties Under 20 are expecting a strong physical challenge when they face Georgia Under 20 at Cambridge’s Volac Park tomorrow (Saturday May 24).
The Counties Under 20 sampled Georgian rugby first hand when they played two matches in Tblisi last summer and had an opportunity to assess tomorrow’s opponents when they met at Shelford in midweek.
An England Counties Under 20 XV won that match 36-10, but head coach Bob Hood is expecting a response from Georgia at Cambridge (2pm kick-off).
“It’s going to be hard in terms of physicality. We said from our visit to Tblisi last year that Georgia are a warrior nation. They are very proud and very physical.
“They have developed their game in terms of wide-out strength and we know that they have done quite a bit of analysis on us.
“They will be looking to counter our ability to get the ball wide and get tempo into our game so we will be trying to put a few things into place that will counter their counter.”
The England Counties Under 20 squad assembled in Cambridge last Sunday and Hood has been delighted with the way they have come together in a short space of time.
“They have gelled together very quickly as a group and you would not have thought when they took the field on Wednesday that they had been together for only a couple of days,” Hood said.
“They have responded superbly to everything we have challenged them with and the good thing about the match at Shelford was that we were able to get all our replacements on to give the entire squad some game time.”
Both the England Counties and the Georgia squads joined forces on Thursday to run coaching sessions for 150 local primary school children as part of an outreach programme which was enjoyed by all.
“It was a fantastic day. We have more than 150 primary school children who enjoyed the day. They came away with big smiles on their faces and the players enjoyed signing autographs for them,” Hood said.
“Both sides were great ambassadors for their countries.”
For tomorrow’s match England Counties Under 20 have called up full-back Ollie Walker who was unavailable for the midweek fixture because of injury.
There are five more changes to the side that took the field at Shelford with hooker Finlay Sinclair, flanker Seb Nagle-Taylor, No.8 Guy Van Dan Vries, centre Ali Heard and and scrum-half Jack Daly also called up.
England Counties Under 20s
15 Ollie Walker (Percy Park and Northumberland)
14 Jack Rossiter (Richmond and Berkshire)
13 Sam Hanks (Cinderford and Gloucestershire)
12 Ali Heard (Hull and Yorkshire)
11 Kwaku Asiedu (Canterbury and Kent)
10 Ben Penfold (Cambridge and East Midlands)
9 Jack Daly (Cambridge and East Midlands)
1 Jamal Ford-Robinson (Cambridge and East Midlands)
2 Finlay Sinclair (Cinderford and Gloucestershire)
3 Jack Culverhouse (Hertford and Hertfordshire)
4 Stuart Nel (Beverley and Yorkshire)
5 Luke Frixou (Derby and NLD)
6 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Blackheath and Kent)
7 Jack Alcock (Darlington Mowden Park and Yorkshire)
8 Guy Van Dan Vries (Darlington Mowden Park and Yorkshire, captain)
Replacements: Ali Wade (Camberley and Surrey), Tom Larder (Darlington Mowden Park and Durham), Sam White (Tynedale and Northumberland), Josh Redfern (Sheffield Tigers and Yorkshire), Sam Harry (Cambridge and Eastern Counties), William Seville (Richmond and Surrey), Rhodri Adamson (Newcastle University and Northumberland), Bertie Hopkin (Guildford and Surrey), Cameron Hudson (Beverley and Yorkshire), Ryan Redman (Medway and Kent).