Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shock change to U20 selection process

The RFUW have made some very significant changes to the process for selecting next season's U20 team.

Full details are here, but the headline news is that it will not be an Open Trial. Players will be selected for U20 trials from this season's HPAs. This includes existing U20 players who will have to go through the HPA process.

Of course, what this means is that anyone not at HPAs will not be able to go to the England U20 trials. If in operation last years this would have probably meant that Sasha would not have been selected to trial (after all, she was not selected for the TDGs), never mind make the final squad and play in four internationals this season! As it stands it also means that Hayley - who narrowly missed out on U20 selection last time - cannot go to trials this time around.

In practice most U18s will be okay - Sasha's non-selection at last year's HPAs can be seen as an anomaly - but for over 18s its a major change. The problem is that, though regional rugby is big thing at U18 level, from what I saw and heard last season it is treated as a bit of an irrelevance by seniors. The standard of the East U18 team last season was significantly higher than the East senior team for the simple reason that most players (especially if they turn out for good clubs) can't seem to be bothered with it. The reasons for this are many, and not wholly relevant here, but its a racing certainty than many talented 18 and 19 year-olds who should be in contention for U20 places did not take part in this season's senior regional programme because they place their priorities elsewhere (or is someone going to tell me that those who attended the East senior trials last season really were the best adult players in East Region outside the England squad?).

RFUW have anticipated complaints about this and say that:
The England U20’s is not a closed shop! Players who are not invited to attend the HPA’s this summer should ‘re-enter’ the player pathway by playing for their region. If selected and perform well, players will be recommended to England U20 management and players may well be considered for international matches later in the season.
Sounds all well and good - but the regional programme doesn't start until the end of January! The matches then take place from February to March so there is fat chance of any "recommendation" winging its way to HQ much before Easter. What chance will a late addition have of getting into the squad three-quarters of the way through the season? Oooooohhh.... none?

Its madness - and its unfair. At no point last season was there any indication that this year's senior (or, come to that, junior) regional programme would be the beginning of the selection process for next season's U20s.

And that is before you consider one important little matter. The senior regional programme is a senior programme. Not a U20 programme. It is very probable that 18 and 19 year olds in senior regional teams will not have got much game time (Hayley spent most of her regional games on the touchline) - after all regional coaches will not have been picking their teams with U20 selection in mind.

The U20s this year have been a brilliant success. It is therefore not unreasonable to suggest that the selection process used must have been pretty good - so why change it? RFUW sat that "the changes have been made to ensure that we are putting resources into the players that will benefit from them" - which sounds a bit of flannel as the last year's trials cannot have been highly resource intensive. Some might suggest that the real reason is to prop up a senior regional programme that was fast becoming an expensive irrelevance - I really cannot comment.

What I would suggest that that there are going to be a lot of really annoyed 18 and 19 year old players out there - players who are going to have a difficult dilemma come January. Go for region and risk someone else taking your club place while you are away, or put your loyalty with your club and give up on any U20 ambitions?
  • One other sideline coming out of this is that RFUW only anticipate two U20 internationals next season - so presumably no U20 Nations Cup in 2009/10 (or at least England will not be taking part in it if it does go ahead).


  1. Anonymous7:57 AM

    Does this imply that players are at the mercy of the regional coaches to be nominated initially for regional selection and then for HPA trials?

  2. Absolutely.

    All the fun of the accusations (generally unfounded, it has to be said, but nonetheless very real and disruptive) of biased selection by amateur club coaches that is such a joy in the junior game will now become a feature of the adult game too!

  3. Anonymous12:20 PM

    "its not what yoy know its who you know"

    With the visable decline in the mens senior national game with a similar regime of elitist coaches and players, what sense does it make to give regional coaches this level of authority.

    Its easily seen by those watching regular club rugby that the majority of those that are in various elite structures, ie TDG's and HPA's are not the best out there, despite the supposed high level of coaching,etc. To deny developing players the chance to enter open trials will drive the game backwards.

    As an Ireland supporter I welcome it, but I sympathise with those individuals denied.

  4. Anonymous1:27 PM

    Well all of this is just a technicality in our CB given that nothing is happening at all in either U15 or U18 despite vast numbers of chasing calls and emails. Sadly I fear those girls who are currently playing at clubs will drift off to clubs in CBs who at the very least have some sort of intrastructure supporting the player pathway (whatever we might think of that).

  5. Care to share which CB that might be, Anon? I am pretty confident that it is NOT Herts.

  6. Anonymous3:23 PM

    I'm sure it's not Herts too.


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