Breakspear student picked England U16 squad

Nick Isiekwe, a student at Nicholas Breakspear and a member of the Saracens Academy, is one of 100 players with “talent and potential” chosen by the RFU’s Professional Rugby Department.

He is one of 25 U16 players selected from the London and South East region. The selection process began last May, with a close relationship between club academies, schools, counties and the national set-up creating greater continuity for players on the development pathway.

Following initial nomination by their academies, the final selection was made in December after a number of festivals and clinics when players’ performance and progress was tracked.

John Fletcher, Professional Player Development Manager said: “Selection needed to balance potential for the future with current talent. Assessment at this age group can be difficult and the key is to look at what these players could and will be, as much as where they are at this moment in time.

“The number of young players coming through the age grade sides and into the senior England teams reflects the recent success of the player development pathway. We are now able to start this process earlier and more effectively by greater input and involvement in the U16s squad.

“Giving players an opportunity, keeping as many in the programme as possible, gives them the chance to test themselves in tough fixtures and receive quality coaching. The priority is to create the right environment in which players can express themselves.”

Training and competition for the four squads will remain divisional until April, with John Fletcher and other National Academy Coaches working closely with the England U16s and divisional management teams to ensure consistent coaching and key performance messages on topics such as nutrition and lifestyle.

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The four squads will meet this weekend in their respective regions to prepare for the Divisional Festival at Broadstreet RFC (Jan 31- Feb 1). Further development camps follow in March (8-9) before the Wellington Festival in April (12-19). In previous years three England squads were selected following the Broadstreet Festival however this year all four divisions will compete at Wellington, playing two sides from Wales and France and one from Italy and Scotland.

A single England squad will be selected to face Italy U17s on the final day of the festival (Saturday 19 April) and then to play Wales U16s the following weekend (April 27).