Bath Rugby’s Ethan Staddon, Orlando Bailey, Ewan Richards and Nahum Merigan were all called up to a 32-man Elite Player Squad for 2021 last week. They were later joined by George Worboys and Gabriel Goss.
Academy Manager, Craig Lilley, said: “The inclusion of six players is a powerful message for us and for our regional player pathway and this should serve as inspiration for all the young players just getting started with us in the U15s and U16s.
"The announcement of Nahum, Orlando, Ethan and Ewan being selected in the U20s EPS this season is great news for them, and for everyone here at the Club. It is also exciting to see that both George and Gabe have had the opportunity to go away and join up with the squad and develop in a different environment at U20s level.
“We’ve seen these young men develop, and they’ve all made considerable strides in the past six months, despite the setbacks of COVID. All of them have developed within the Academy programme with us at Bath Rugby over the past five to six years, as well as within their clubs and schools.
“They have also played for Dorset and Wiltshire or Somerset County during their U15 and U16 seasons. All six of them have worked incredibly hard over a number of years to get to this point and have all earned this opportunity through their performances here with Bath Rugby.”
"The opportunity to go away and to develop in a different environment at this level is invaluable for each and every one of them. This selection sets the scene for them to really go after a positive second half of the season and to continue to build themselves as young professionals.”
The player pathway programme is a vital development tool for future international players. 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.
Lilley continued: “The England U20 coaches have planned and delivered a programme over the course of this season to ensure they have had appropriate contact time with the players within the pathway which has included setting up calls between the U20 players and those in the senior England men’s squad.
“The players also took part in mini regional camps, which allowed the coaches to get to know more of the players and from that, they built into the four regional games that took place.
“This has created a platform for the England management team to further understand the individual needs of each player and work closely with Bath Rugby Academy staff prior to this week-long training camp.”
“The environment our Bath players are immersed in at camp, with players of similar ages and stages of development, can be used as strong reference point to continue to maximise their development. “
“As a Club, we are keen to see how our players utilise their time away at camp and how they can then add value when they return to our environment at Bath Rugby using the skills, knowledge and understanding that they have acquired.”