England U20s were emphatically defeated at the hands of New Zealand in the final of the World Championships on Sunday. The Baby Blacks put in a commanding performance in their 64-17 win before being crowned champions for an historic sixth time.
But despite the defeat, it was still a successful campaign for England. They remain the second most successful side in the competition.
Much of this success is from the rewards the players are gaining from their clubs and academies. This is according to Dean Ryan, England Rugby’s Head of International Player Development.
For Ryan, the U20 World Championships is a clear pathway to develop the young talent from club level in to international standard.
“Having a clear program is vital. We want to accelerate these programs to maximise their exposure” said Ryan.
“We don’t want to be holding these players back. It’s about giving them the understanding of playing at the next level. We don’t want to deprive them of progressing.”
Ryan added “There were five U20 players picked for the Argentina tour. Five players who were a key part of that Six Nations win.”
“Nick Isiekwe and Tom Curry getting their first cap [against Argentina] was just fantastic. It shows how close they are to the top level.”
“And Jack Maunder came in and had a hand in [Denny] Solomona’s try there at the end.”
“It’s about maximising the opportunities at the highest level – I’m not concerned about them not being at the World Championships.”
Academy success showing
With joint collaboration with Premiership Rugby, England’s U20 coaches are given the opportunity to relay their expertise at international level. A key area Ryan is keen to see continue.
Prior to the tournament, Saracens Academy coach Ian Vass was added to the set-up. This includes coaches Louis Deacon and Tom Williams.
“Ian Vass has worked really well tactically and to introduce new things. We want the best coaches working in the Premiership.”
“It’s made a huge difference. You could see that in the first half hour against South Africa. It was outstanding.”
“It’s about different combinations of working within their clubs and the significant part of that work is going on across the academies. We’re now seeing the results of that.”
During this year’s U20 World Championships, Ryan has been impressed with a number of England’s players.
“Max Malins has been excellent in taking ownership of the game and his experience with Saracens has shown.”
“Ben Earl was huge against South Africa, he kept the momentum going in that game.”
“And you’ve got players who have a little bit of magic. Zach Mercer is one of those players who’s got that bit of magic.”
“Even Josh Caulfield. Down at Exeter he put his hand up and worked for it. He worked a lot with Geoff Parling and now he has the confidence to call the line outs.”He’s now playing in a World Cup final.”
New Zealand’s unbeaten run against England in a World Championships final continues. Sunday’s defeat now means England have lost five finals over the ten years the competition has been in existence.
England’s players will have a deserved break before build up to the new season begins. There’s no doubt they will play a prominent part in their club’s domestic campaigns.
With a World Cup coming up in 2019, Eddie Jones wants depth in every position and it would be no surprise to see even more of this year’s U20s called up to the senior squad.