Youngsters offer sunny hopes for the future
Statistically, the Eastern Counties should produce one player every two years good enough to represent England Under-16s.
Last time out, they proudly had two - Alex Day and Will Hooley.
It is against this tough backdrop that the 60 top youth players in the region took their place on the sunny fields of Finborough School, near Stowmarket, last weekend to try and follow in their footsteps.
But the signs all seem positive that we could be celebrating international glory in the years to come as the current cream of Under-14s and Under-15s gave plenty of reason for optimism.
The boys were put through their paces by coaches from the Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints and the man overseeing the squad was delighted with the talent on display.
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Spencer Smith, team manager of the Eastern Counties Under-14s and Under-15s squad, said: “There were two aims – to help them all become better rugby players and to turn these individuals into a team.
“I was hugely impressed by the extremely high standards. Our constituent body does typically perform well when it comes to producing England players and we expect that to continue judging on what we saw at the weekend.”
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Over two tough days, the youngsters did a host of training on the pitch as well as nutritional and strength and conditioning workshops and team building exercises.
They also received expert coaching from Tim Malone of the Leicester Tigers, who focused on specialist line-out work, and the Northampton Saints’ Ross Stewart who did attacking play with the backs.
The “open and transparent” selection process for the training camp actually first started at Under-13s level when boys were chosen to play sub-county matches between Suffolk, Essex and Cambridge before the three parts of Eastern Counties rugby came together at the higher age group.
Smith said: “We are working towards picking squads for two matches against Essex and Hertfordshire next month and this training camp was part of the preparation for that. We wanted to bring them together as a team and I think it was both successful and enjoyable for the boys.”