Recently as I have been going through various blogs and podcasts there has been quite a bit of talk on the England Saxons set-up and other A teams being reintroduced.
I believe this could be a huge positive for many sides. With every international squad announcement fans always bring up the inevitable list of names that are very harshly done by to have missed out on a call-up.
The reintroduction of the Saxons and other equivalent sides would allow such players to enjoy the next level up from club rugby whilst having a chance to show what they are about within a national set-up. This can also give players a much-needed confidence boost that they are definitely in the thoughts of the international set-up. Giving some the incentive to go that little bit better game-to-game.
There are currently players from all home nations that are eligible to play for one of their local rivals. Lewis Ludlow, Max Clarke, Joe Sam Moore, the list is endless. This can turn heads, especially as we get closer to a World Cup year and peoples dreams of playing on the biggest stage can become a realistic aim.
England seem to use the “apprentice” role very often now and have picked several for their upcoming tour to South Africa. I can see the reasoning behind this and fully agree with having them around training squads, but if the Saxons was a possibility then maybe this is another path to the first team that could be considered. The Saxons could provide these players with a chance to play rather than be carrying the water bottles and cleaning boots for the players deemed ready for Test rugby.
For example, it seems the WRU have contacted Harlequins centre Joe Marchant about his availability, a shrewd move looking forward. We have also seen the Sale pair Mike Haley and Will Addison head over to Ireland searching for international honours. This may still have been the case regardless of involvement in a Saxons set-up, but if there had been a squad assembled in the last few years these sort of players may have had a chance to impress and push on to be involved with the first-team setup. Often, opportunism is just as important as form, just ask Darryl Marfo.
With such tours going on, Saxons players can be kept match-sharp. Should the senior squad suffer a crucial injury or two the likely backups will already be playing at a decent level within the same system, perhaps something similar to what The Churchill Cup was. A great example of this may pop up this summer as England have only taken the two recognised hookers on tour. If one of Jamie George or Luke Cowan-Dickie suddenly picks up an injury or falls victim to illness ahead of a Test, Jones et al would be forced to for reinforcements over 12 hours away.
This could be of benefit to players and coaches alike. Unions could appoint coaches they have been impressed with and would like to keep a closer eye on for the future. Should any openings come about, they will benefit from an enhanced relationship with the available candidate or candidates when it comes to deciding whether they have what it takes.
I would be interested in this being given the go-ahead on a one year-trial, even if they go through the summer with it. It would be seen as a step up from club rugby and something to aim for if a player hasn’t received a full call-up to date.
Six Nations A-League
A Six Nations “A” league is something I know various different authorities have spoken of, with differing levels of interest from each of the Unions. I am not sure whether or not this is something that can ever happen with the inevitable complaints from Premiership bosses when losing more players to internationals.
A Potential Saxons Squad
If I was to pick an England Saxons tour squad now I would be looking down the lines of both experienced players unlucky to have missed out on the first team squad and would be the first port of call if any injuries occur and also taking players seen to have a big future and want to get around the international way of thinking.
Props- Beno Obano, Ross Harrison, Jake Cooper-Woolley, Nick Schonert
Hooker- Tom Dunn, Tom Cruse, Jack Singleton
Locks- Elliott Stooke, Will Spencer, Calum Green, Josh McNally
Backrow- Ben Curry, Don Armand, Jono Ross, Lewis Ludlow, Jackson Wray, Sam Moore
Scrum-Half- Sam Harrison, Ben Vellacott
Fly-Half- Joe Simmonds, Billy Burns
Centre- Mark Atkinson, Sam James, Piers Francis, Joe Marchant
Back Three- Ollie Woodburn, Josh Bassett, Joe Cokanasiga, Ross Chisholm, Jason Woodward
Who would you add or remove looking forward? and why? Let us know on Twitter @_crashballrugby