A number of Bath Rugby’s Junior Academy players will be training in England U18 colours over the half term week with England having named their squads for two regionally based half term one-day development camps as well as a separate two-day camp that will run at Bisham Abbey.
The South squad will include four Bath Academy players with Ciaran Donoghue and Sam Harris from Millfield School both gaining selection as well as Marlborough College’s Josh Dingley and Sherborne School’s Jai Thompson. Jasper Spandler, Bath Rugby’s U18 Hooker from Beechen Cliff School will be in action at the Bisham Abbey camp and this follows on from his attendance at the camp that was held earlier this month.
The North and South squads will comprise of 20 players with the Southern based training group assembling in Bristol on Monday 26th October and players in the Northern group convening on Tuesday 27th October in York. These opportunities follow on from an earlier U18 Development Camp at the start of the month, with half of the training group now returning for their second camp. The Bisham Abbey group will comprise of 24 players from 11 of the Premiership Rugby Academies and combined with the one-day camps, a total 64 players will be training as part of the England U18 set-up over the half term week.
Bath Rugby’s Academy Manager, Craig Lilley, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for a number of our young men who worked hard and remained focused throughout the lockdown period and have continued to thrive since returning to the Bath Academy environment.
"Jasper, Sam, Ciaran, Josh and Jai have all progressed well since returning to school in September and the dedication from both themselves and their schools in ensuring that they have made every Bath Academy session since starting back in August has been exceptional.
"This experience of the England camps will not only enhance the players’ skills in the short term, but will help provide some strong reference points to guide their development in the long term. We feel all five players demonstrate strong potential and this camp will play an important part in each of their journeys as they look to progress further.
The five players no doubt deserve their selections and we are proud that they have been recognised by England U18s on this occasion. We also recognise a number of other young players who are developing well in our U18 group including Mackenzie Graham and Tom Ahl who have not been included at this stage but are both incredibly motivated and continue to perform well in training. The strength within our pathway in the U18s is something we are excited about.”
Lilley continued: “Our team, including Pathway coaches Louis Messer and Matt Lishman; Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Bakker, Physiotherapist Rachel Williams and Operations Manager, Kara Gonzalez have done a fantastic job in designing and pulling together a programme that has been well-planned and engaging considering the constraints we have faced.”
“They have really ensured each session is driven by the individual needs of our players and reflects Bath Rugby’s coaching approach. The way we want to play, the nature of the game we want to develop through the Academy is embedded in everything that we do. It guides both players and coaches.”
Lilley added: “Players have been working hard off the pitch as well by producing individual development plans. We want our players to be proactive in their efforts to learn with a strong awareness of their strengths and limitations which can guide the goals that they set for themselves and task-related strategies.”
“We were fortunate to be able to re-group with some of our Academy Players post lockdown and we will continue to expand our programme delivery as we move through the Winter months. We’re all hugely committed to accelerating their development and achieve the aim of producing a 50% homegrown squad by 2023.”