- England name squad for U18 International Series - more
- England U18s defeat South Africa Schools - read
England U18s head to South Africa on Sunday for the Aon International Series in a tournament that is important to their development as future internationals.
Based at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, England will play fixtures against France (Friday, 10 August, KO 1.15pm BST), Wales (Tuesday, 14 August, KO 1.15pm BST) and South Africa Schools (Saturday, 18 August KO 1.05pm BST).
Graduates of the tour in recent years include Saracens lock Nick Isiekwe and Sale Sharks flanker Tom Curry – both of whom were part of the senior squad this summer.
Had injury not ruled him out then Cameron Redpath would also have been part of the senior tour to South Africa in June, less than 12 months since playing there in the U18 international series.
Last year’s U18s tour squad also included key members of England’s U20 squad in the summer including Fraser Dingwall, Tom Willis, Joe Heyes, Beck Cutting, Josh Basham and James Scott."South Africa was definitely the best thing I did at U18s."
And those graduates of the tour explained the value of playing in the U18 International Series.
“South Africa was definitely the best thing I did at U18s, two weeks away with your mates, in an incredible place, playing against some of the best players in the world. It doesn’t get much better,” said Worcester lock Scott.
“It takes you out of your comfort zone, playing somewhere nowhere near home, in a different environment to one you’ll not have experienced before.”
Sale Sharks forward Sam Moore added: “It’s a fantastic environment and platform on and off the field and the chance to develop as a player and person.
“The best bit is making lifelong friends and showcasing all your skills on a big stage with the best competition possible.”
Northampton Saints centre Dingwall who started for England in the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship explained why the U18 tour was so important for him."It’s a fantastic environment and platform on and off the field."
“The tour really aided my development,” said Dingwall. “It gave me a prolonged period of playing and prepping for games with the coaches and in camp. It was a good opportunity to really make use of the resources before my first pre-season.”
To reflect a change in the pathway calendar the group will be predominately U17s with the tour now marking the start of the U18 international season, as well as their England journey.
In turn that will allow pathway coaches maximum contact time with the squad giving players further experience and learning, as well as an opportunity to continue their journey through the international season culminating in the U18 Six Nations festival in April 2019.
It will also allow the majority of U18 players to have a full pre-season with their academy resulting in a more connected journey through the pathway.
The 26-man squad will be coached by Steve Bates and Jim Mallinder, who will be assisted by Mark Luffman and Nick Kennedy.