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, October 06, 2010

U20 "tri-nations" for 2011

England and Wales will have a new partner in U20 rugby this spring with news from north of the border that Scotland are setting up an age group squad, and will be playing both of the other home nations. Whether these games will be tallied together to make an official "Tri-Nations", or whether we will just have do it unofficially, has yet to be revealed.

England and Wales have been playing age group internationals against each other since 2003 - and, unlike the senior side - this has not been one-way traffic. Wales beat England at U19 level in 2004 and  2005 (when they also drew the return), and also won earlier this year at the new U20 age band. England, on the other hand, won three U19 games between 2003 and 2007 and have since added three wins at U20s. That Wales seniors have so far failed to build on their junior success (apart from that one game in 2009) is one of the slight puzzles of international rugby - is it a superior coaching regime in England, or a failure of the Welsh to bring their juniors through?

Now Scotland join the party - and it will be very interesting to see how they get on. We have all seen how the Welsh reforms of their junior structure resulted in significant improvements at regional level, so the success of their U20 team has really been no great surprise - but the Scots are an unknown quantity as there is not nearly as much cross-border rugby north:south as there has been east:west. These games will be fascinating to watch (though you suspect that Anglo-Welsh experience may give them an advantage at the start).

Its an exciting prospect. Perhaps the next step would be to get the French to join in on a regular basis, and maybe the Irish too. A European U20 championship perhaps?

And, of course, its something that all junior players can aspire to take part in. The new divisional structure will - at U18s - feed into the U20 squad trials, which is why country rugby is so important. A hart on the shirt this winter could be the first step to a red rose next!

(Or, alternatively, if anyone has family ties that give them the right to march behind the Saltire, there is still time to register for the Scotland trials).

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