England’s juniors turn it on in Paris
25 Aug 2019 @ 22:15 UTC
England's four junior teams recorded the country’s best results ever at a European Touch Junior Championships in held in Paris this month.
The English teams won the Mixed 15, Boys 18, Girls 18 and Mixed 18, categories and between them they won 27 out of their 29 matches played, drawing the other two.
In all, 25 teams representing nine nations played in the four categories at the tournament held at the outstanding facilities in Marcoussis, the training base of the French national rugby union team just south of Paris.
England vied with Wales across all four categories during the weekend, and all of the games between the nations provided plenty of memorable moments.
Both mixed teams drew with Wales in the pool stages before beating the Welsh in the final. Meanwhile, both the Girls 18 and Boys 18 teams recorded 100 percent success rates, with the Girls 18 seeing off Wales in a tense final and the Boys 18 finishing top of the round-robin competition, with the title-clinching win coming against Wales early on the final day.
Best ever result for England
The result is indisputably the best collective performance by an England team at a junior touch Championships. Head of elite performance Sammie Phillips said, "This was a sensational weekend for England Touch.
"We've never achieved four gold medals at a JTC, and we're ecstatic.
"It shows that our High-Performance programme is working and the athletes we're starting to create are fantastic. We're so proud of them.
"It's incredible to be unbeaten throughout an entire championship in every division, so hats off to our coaching team and the athletes themselves for producing such outstanding results."
High Performance Director Ben Powell says that the medals reflect the hard work of many people. "We had high hopes going to France this weekend, but I don't think that anyone thought that we would get the results that we did, "he said.
"Over the last couple of years a lot of time, thought and effort was put into establishing and developing a structured pathway for our best young players, and a lot of credit should go to Sammie Phillips, Pippa Bourke, Gregg Cropper, the coaches, and our medical and support staff. All of this work is bearing fruit at junior level, especially with the number of players who still have a few years within the age-group development system.
"It is massively exciting for all of us at England Touch, and we can look forward to bigger and better things in the future."
Team supports creates winning culture
England Touch Chief Operating Officer, Gregg Cropper, added his congratulations and thanked the support network. "Watching on the sidelines for the whole event was so satisfying, as the camaraderie between the teams was something to behold," he said.
"The athletes and support staff have been absolute professionals throughout, and the hard yards on the training ground and in the classroom have most definitely paid off.
"Not losing a single of our games was never expected, the results speak for themselves. It was simply outstanding. As always, a massive thanks must go to everyone involved in putting on such an event, including the tournament organisers and volunteers for making it happen and also to the referee crew for officiating over the weekend."
"Congratulations to all of the outstanding England coaches, team managers, high-performance team, and support staff. The amount of behind the scenes work that goes on is immeasurable and the strides taken at all levels is outstanding, and it's showing on the field.
Cropper also thanked the physios and S&C team for their excellent support for the athletes, which he noted, "Is excellent and up there alongside professional sports teams.
"Thanks to our sponsors and partners for their continued support, which assists in keeping costs down for the juniors. To the photographers and media crew for all great up-to-date live content over the weekend, awesome work as always. And lastly to all our amazing athletes and parents/guardians for making the 2019 European Touch Junior Championships a fantastic weekend and milestone in our development of the future of our sport in England."
The planning for the 2023 Touch World Cup began back in May, and with these results from England's juniors, there'll be more competition than ever in the opens teams. "It is fantastic for the depth of the English squads and the future of the sport at the elite level," Cropper concluded.