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2001 (June) Invited skills and conditioning coach - RFU England U21 Team, RICOH Southern Hemisphere U21 Rugby Championship

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I was invited by Head Coach of the England U21 squad Nigel Melville (who at the time was also Head Coach of London Wasps in the English Zurich Premiership), to assist him and Assistant Coach Dean Ryan (at the time Head Coach of Bristol Shoguns who also competed in the Zurich Premiership) in preparing the team for this "unofficial" U21 World Cup rugby union tournament. The tournamnet took place over 2 weeks in June and was played in Sydney at Homebush Bay. The tournament is now referred to as the IRB Junior World Championship.

The England team was one of eight competing in the tournament. Other teams were, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Samoa, Ireland and France. These eight teams were divided into two pools with each team in their respective pools playing each other once. The final pool standings then determined which teams would then play each other for the final game. These were:

New Zealand v Australia (play off for 1st & 2nd)
England V France (play off for 3rd & 4th)
Ireland v South Africa (play off for 5th & 6th)
Argentina v Samoa (play off for 7th & 8th)

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England lost to France in the final match to finish in their equal best position for this championship. It was a great experience and one that allowed me to learn a great deal about the logistics of running a team during such an intense competion. We effectively played 4 games in 10 days!

My role was to firstly inspect all our proposed accommodation and training facilities before the team arrived and report back to Nigel on their suitability. Once we were in "camp" my role was to work with Nigel and Dean in preparing the team for each match. This included everything from taking recovery sessions after games, coaching sessions focusing on specific areas such as defence and decision making, preparing Powerpoint presentations for the team meetings and assisting with the post match stats analysis.

All in all it was a fantastic experience. Nigel and Dean are two of the most professional coaches I've worked with and the entire England set up while on tour was a revelation.

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