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Zurich U21s Premiership – Update

24 October 2002

Gloucester Rugby

Zurich U21s Premiership – Update

The Zurich U21s Premiership is once again running in parallel with the main premiership season with the U21s playing the opposite fixture to their senior counterparts.

Whilst the senior Tigers may be struggling to find their feet on the field so far this season, the Leicester Tigers U21s team are looking very strong. Currently at the top of the table they remain unbeaten in their first seven fixtures including a win over the league winners for the last three seasons – Bristol Shoguns. Dusty Hare is currently assisting the young Leicester squad alongside their Academy Manager, Andy Key. Bristol’s U21 are run by ex-Bristol player Paul Hull whose success with the U21 side over the last few years has helped build a strong reputation for Bristol at this level.

At the other end of the table Worcester won their first game this weekend against London Irish. Worcester are playing in the league for one season on a temporary basis in the place of Leeds Tykes who will return to the league next season when the club starts bringing players through to U21 from their U19/20 squad. Saracens have a very young team this season and have struggled so far against the stronger sides, recently losing 77-8 to Bristol.

Gloucester meanwhile with four wins and a draw out of six games are sitting just behind the leaders in third place. This weekend they play fourth placed London Wasps in a top of the table clash.

The U21s premiership is now in its fourth season and is proving to be a successful breeding ground for the senior sides. Rhys Oakley made his debut for the senior Shoguns side last weekend and was named Heineken Man of the Match whilst Marcel Garvey, James Simpson-Daniel, James Forrester and Clive Stuart-Smith have all moved through the U21 system and are playing regularly for the Gloucester 1st team.

"Its good that we have young English players coming through, I think it is good for Gloucester as well. Gone are the days when we used to buy all our players in; we have to develop our own. We have a good Academy structure here and another player that will approach that level soon is Clive Stuart-Smith. We also have other young players training with the first team now and that is the sort of progression we are trying to make. We want to get some very talented players training with the best coaches and the best players as quickly as we can and it is working well", said Director of Rugby Nigel Melville.

Howard Thomas, Chief Executive of Premier Rugby, said, ‘The U21s premiership is a crucial contributing factor to the continued success of the English clubs. The premiership clubs are committed to playing in the tournament and the level of competition remains high. With some of the country’s leading up and coming players involved it is a fantastic means of developing and identifying new talent for the Zurich Premiership.’

Zurich U21s Premiership 2002/03 – League Table


Leicester Tigers 7 7 0 0 215 115 5 0 33

Bristol Shoguns 6 5 1 0 248 117 3 0 23

Gloucester 6 4 1 1 183 105 1 1 20

London Wasps 7 4 3 0 187 158 3 1 20

Ncastle Falcons 5 3 1 1 142 89 3 1 18

London Irish 6 2 4 0 150 152 3 1 12

Bath 6 2 4 0 127 143 2 0 10

Sale Jets 4 2 2 0 127 91 1 0 9

NEC Harlequins 5 1 4 0 98 141 1 2 7

Worcester 5 1 4 0 105 185 2 1 7

Nhampton 5 1 4 0 94 177 1 0 5



Kevin Bowring, RFU Head of Elite Coach Development, today announced the 2002/3 England U21 management team:

Peter Drewett – Manager
Jon Callard – Head Coach
Nigel Redman – Assistant Coach
Paul Grayson – Assistant Coach

‘This is World Cup year and the new team will be aiming to make full use of all five Six Nations games in preparation for the U21 World Cup in June,’ said Bowring.

To be successful, England will have to take on current champions South Africa who won the World Cup in Johannesburg in 2002.

This strong coaching team has the full endorsement of both Fran Cotton and Chris Spice, RFU Performance Director. The new management team boasts a wealth of experience.

Peter Drewett, has managed and coached England squads at Student, U19 FIRA and U21 World Cups over the past six years.

Nigel Redman, previously England U19s coach, adds further World Cup knowledge, having worked with England U19s in the 2000 and 2001 World Cups. Teamed alongside former England International Paul Grayson, Nigel Redman also worked with England U21s throughout their World Cup Campaign in 2002.

Jon Callard, Nigel Redman and Paul Grayson will contribute valuable experience gained from top level playing and coaching careers. Callard, former Bath and England fullback and later Bath Director of Rugby, is currently coaching at Premiership club Leeds Tykes.

Heading the set-up, Drewett is the only full-time member of the management team. Previously U19s Manager and Student Development Manager, he was appointed to this post last month. Said Drewett, ‘Our main objective is individual player development and creating opportunities for players to establish themselves in the Premiership, National Academy and ultimately Senior England team squads