A 19-12 defeat to Russia’s Enisei-STM in Moscow last Saturday might not have registered on your European rugby radar, but the Warriors selected a youthful England-qualified team that bodes very well for their future.
The team that went down to Eastern Europe’s finest was as follows:
15 Josh Adams
14 Andy Short
13 Max Stelling
12 Will Butler
11 Dean Hammond
10 Jamie Shillcock
9 Luke Baldwin
1 Ryan Bower (C)
2 Matti Williams
3 Mike Daniels
4 Charlie Hewitt
5 Christian Scotland-Williamson
6 Huw Taylor
7 Sam Betty
8 Matt Cox
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Derrick Appiah, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Zac Xiourouppa, 21 George de Cothi, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Ryan Lamb
Worcester may have lost in Russia, but the 21 EQPs they fielded is the most by any AP side this season. By far the youngest 23 picked, too.
— Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport) October 16, 2016
21 out of 23 players here are EQPs and although Worcester might be focussing their efforts on the Premiership this year, it is good they’re using the Challenge Cup as an opportunity to develop their academy players.
The real test now is how many of these players will go on to get time in the Premiership this year, although of course there is the return of the LV= Cup this year, and the England U20s are back in action in the Six Nations next year.
Continue reading below
Make sure to check the latest episode of our weekly rugby podcast, The Oval Office, where we pay tribute to the late Anthony Foley, talk all things European Champions Cup and catch up with Leo Cullen, Josh van der Flier and Rory Kockett.
Listen here on SoundCloud or subscribe on iTunes.
The recently announced England U20s squad features six Worcester Warriors players, which is testament to the academy coaches at Sixways.
When I caught up with Worcester CEO Jim O’Toole earlier in the year, he was very positive about the work being done to improve the club’s English representation and bring through as many youngsters as possible into the senior set-up:
“We have invested significantly in the last 3 or 4 years in our academy programme which is now starting to come into fruition. Seventeen players represented England at Under 16 to Under 20 level during the 2015/16 campaign and three of those are currently at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship. It’s starting to come together.
“We’ve recently announced our senior academy which has 16 boys in it from the ages of 18 to 21 and there is some outstanding talent in that group. Our job now is to bring them through as a group to give them a pathway and genuine opportunities for game time. Rugby players want to play rugby, so our job is to give them as much game time as possible. That will lead to their progress and allow them to start knocking on the door for first team selection.”
It seems this work continues unabated and could well mean a very bright future for the West Midlands’ premier rugby team.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
Heineken Rugby Club celebrates and rewards real supporters who make the game what it is.
Read More About: challenge cup, england rugby, england rugby news, england u20s, Enisei-STM, eqps, european challenge cup, jim o'toole, russia, sixways, worcester, worcester warriors, world rugby championship