Rugby Union: Imitation flatters England

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The Independent Online
England Under-16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

Wales Under-16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

IMITATING their elders was taken a little too far by England's Under- 16s at Twickenham on Saturday when, with nine seconds of the second 35-minute half to go, stand-off James Brown struck a Callard-copy penalty to earn a draw against a more lively Wales.

The timing of this robust if slightly disappointing encounter was also politically correct. With the Government pushing for a return of team sports in schools it was noteworthy that, while 80 per cent of the England side was drawn from the private sector, 100 per cent of the Wales team came from state schools.

A win by 28-0 a week earlier over Portugal may have lulled the England side into a false sense of security and the biting north-westerly wind, combined with cold and rain, not only chilled the conditions but also chilled the enthusiasm.

Everything Wales did had more inventiveness about it. Their try by full-back David Hawkins, although oppportunist, came from a back line which continued to look the more dangerous. England's reply by flanker Richard Lloyd was deserved for its quick-wittedness. One of a good back-row trio, he pounced on a ball which squirted out of a scrum.

But the England back line never clicked on a day when the weather dictated a foward contest, rather than the free running that might be expected.

Times are certainly changing. Thirty years ago the British male's national average height was 5ft 8in, but only three players of the 30 were below that height on Saturday - five were 6ft 3in or taller.

The RFU's technical administrator for schools and youth, Ron Tennick, pointed to 40 youth development officers working with the schools, mini-rugby in the clubs, plus a well-established talent-spotting and selection team, as being the basis of England's emerging strength. But the difference on the day between a self-confident England and a rugged Wales was pride. The Welsh had it, England did not. They were lucky to escape with the draw.

England: Try Lloyd; Penalties Brown 2. Wales: Try Hawkins. Penalties Curtis 2.

ENGLAND UNDER-16: R Seldon (Torquay Boys GS); L Riley (Coundon Court), J Ewens (Colstons), R Hartley (Fallibroome), T Barlow (Rossall); J Brown (Solihull), C Simpson-Daniel (Conyers, capt); J Aning (KES Birmingham), B Levenstein (Mill Hill), W Smith (QES Hertfordshire), J Marston (Bradford Grammar), J Winterbottom (Diss High), P Sanderson (Bury GS), M Swift (London Oratory), R Lloyd (Solihull).

WALES UNDER-16: D Hawkins (Morriston Comp); J Young (Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera), S Roberts (Bishopston Comp), G Curtis (W Monmouth Comp), C Williams (Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera); Stephen Jones (Bro Myrddin), I Davies (Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera); Steven Jones (Blaengwawr Comp); S Delaney (Coedcae Comp), D Williams (Ysgol Gyfun Panty Celyn), G Thoas (Ysgol Llanilltud Fawr, capt), R Edwards (Tregaron Secondary), C Hughes (Amman Valley Comp), G Bennett (Queen Elizabeth Cambria), P Morgan (Queen Elizabeth Maridunum). Replacements: J Scott (Pontlanfraith Comp ) for S Jones (Bro), 56; M Davies (Aberdare Boys Comp) for Delany, 42.

Referee: D Tyndall.

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