England Rugby reaping rewards of player pathway

As Max Malins was sending over a late penalty to send England into the World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final in Georgia, several hundred miles away Tom Curry was learning he will make his senior debut against Argentina on Saturday.

Curry was part of the England U20 team that sealed a Grand Slam earlier this year and he will become the youngest England starter since Colin Laird in 1927 when he takes to the field in San Juan at the weekend.

As head coach Eddie Jones looks to build towards the 2019 World Cup, Tom is joined in Argentina by four other members of this year’s Under 20 Elite Performance Squad, including brother Ben, while Nick Isiekwe and Jack Maunder are in line to make their international debuts off the bench on Saturday.

Jones sees the tour of Argentina as the perfect opportunity to increase the depth of his squad and give experience to previously uncapped players.

“What I’m looking to do is improve the squad and I feel these young guys can take the squad to a new level,” said Jones."I feel these young guys can take the squad to a new level."

“We’re looking to discover the best young talent in England and see how we can bring them through. To win the world cup we need to have the best and that is our ultimate aim.”

Meanwhile, England U20 continue their quest in Georgia to defend their World Rugby U20 Championship title. Despite being without those five players as well as losing four to injury during the tournament they have still advanced through to the last four. This is just a small indication of the work done by the pathway performance programme to increase the strength in depth of English rugby.

“This is a truly exciting time for English rugby,” said Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie.

“With five players away in Argentina and having sustained injuries to several players in their opening three matches to make the semi-final is a good achievement. Credit must go to the fantastic work done by the pathway coaches to grow the strength in depth at all levels.”

Heading into the Championship in Georgia, England U20s had won the tournament in three out of the past four years. Two members of last year’s winning team – Jack Singleton and Harry Mallinder - are also in Argentina, while Joe Marchant would have joined them had it not been for injury."This is a sustained period of success for England U20s."

“This is a sustained period of success for England U20s and as a result England Rugby is reaping the rewards of that,” added Ritchie.

And Jones hopes several of the previously uncapped players can force themselves into contention for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“I’ve always felt as an observer that England has great depth in players,” said Jones.

“If we can get three or four come through and press for selection when everyone is available then we will be doing hand stands.”


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