THREE members of the Three Pears Warriors Academy are among the newcomers in the England Under-20s Elite Player Squad for 2021.
Loosehead prop Lewis Holsey, who made his Gallagher Premiership debut when the 2019/20 resumed in August, centre Seb Atkinson and fly-half Fin Smith have all been included in the 32-strong squad announced today by England Under-20s Head Coach Alan Dickens.
Only six players – Harvey Beaton, Jack Clement, Luke Green, Sam Riley, Tom Roebuck and Jack van Poortvliet – have been capped by England at this level.
The player pathway programme is a vital development tool for future full international rugby. Of the 31 players selected in England’s 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, 81% played for England U20s, 77% for England U18s, while 87% came through a club academy.
Dickens has been joined in the England U20s coaching set up by former England hooker Andy Titterrell as forwards coach.
“Selection for the squad has been based on a combination of things: the four previous regional games we had at St George’s Park, the work we do with the club academies and coaches, plus our knowledge of the players within the pathway. We can only name 32 in the EPS and there will be some disappointed players, but we have a much wider squad that we know will be involved and will contribute during the year,” Dickens said.
“It’s great to have Andy Titterrell join the Under-20s coaching team. He has a wealth of experience from playing and coaching, having represented England and been on a Lions tour during his playing days. I worked with him previously on the 2016 Saxons tour to South Africa and know he’s going to be a valuable member of the Under-20s management group.
“2020 has been a challenging year, but we faced that head on ensuring we had contact with players within the pathway – firstly by setting up calls between them and those in the senior England men’s squad. We then had mini regional camps which were something different but allowed us to get to know more of the players who were U20s eligible and we built from that into the four regional games. It has given me and the whole management team a much better platform to know the players better sooner and we’re really looking forward to getting back to preparations with this group.
“I’d also like to thank all the Premiership clubs, the academies, the coaches and Premiership Rugby for their support, particularly over the past year. It’s been a really collaborative effort.”