Lancashire U20s – 2016 Season Review
U20s Team Manager
A somewhat of a curate’s egg performance in a season of highs and not that many lows.
The “season” started pre-season with some well attended training camps at Liverpool St. Helens under the tutelage of our new Coaching Team of Warren Spragg, Stuart Turner and Martin Scott. Like the start of some corny joke it’s not every season you have an Italian, English and Scottish international player forming your coaching setup, but thanks to the County Coaching Committee, we are blessed with some quality on the coaching front.
The pre-season camps led to our trial held at Blackburn RUFC, again some really good performances on show to impress the Coaches and the County selectors. We managed to whittle the 50 players in attendance down to a squad of 33 and commenced a couple of good training sessions at Myerscough College, which in itself was a miracle, given that most of Lancashire spent the early winter months under water.
The new RFU U20 County Competition “structure” saw Lancashire placed in the National County Shield, instead of the cup.
Our first game was a warm-up against Cheshire, who were placed in the Cup Competition. We travelled away to Burnage RFC (bit bizarre as they are a Lancashire Club) and put in a really good team performance to come away winners 32-19, highlights included a George Peel (Rossendale) hat-trick and a brace from Louis Townsend (Bolton).
We then had an uneventful trip to Longton RFC near Stoke for our first competitive game, but were faced with a ploughed field to play on. This made our running game really difficult and to be honest coming away with a hard fought 7-5 victory was actually very good seeing as Staffordshire hadn’t lost at home in three seasons!
Any result, other than a loss, at home to Durham would mean a home Quarter Final in the Shield. The squad looked well prepared and confidence going into the game at Vale of Lune RUFC was high. Sadly we looked to have saved our worst for last. Durham had picked a strong side and we couldn’t cope too well with their set piece, nett result meant we ended chasing the game and just couldn’t breakdown their stubborn defence, the final score of 24-10 to the visitors.
On the plus several of the lads performed well enough to earn a North U20 Trial which ended with George Peel (Rossendale), Henry Hadfield (Myerscough), Connor Wilkinson (Fylde) and Skipper Jamie Brookes (Fylde) making the final North Squad. All four of the Lancastrian acquitted themselves well in the Divisional game against the Midlands with Connor Wilkinson one of only THREE North players to go one step further and make the plane to Russia for the England Counties U20 tour.
Work starts now and we aim to redress our minor failings this season by being right on the ball next season.
The support of all the Clubs/Schools and Colleges Directors of Rugby in the County has been fantastic and long may that continue. I must thank my Coaching Team and our Physio, Sarah Louise Rothwell, all of who have been first class, and to Carl Fox who came along to watch how the Coaches work but got his hands dirty helping out.
Thanks also to the following Clubs and establishments who have supported us, Liverpool St. Helens, Blackburn, Myerscough College and Vale of Lune.