As one set of young Premiership Rugby stars head out to New Zealand, another set get ready to grasp their opportunity as the Aviva Premiership Rugby season gets underway.
On average each Premiership Rugby academy has seen three players graduate into the first team per season with the cream of the crop making their way into the full international side.
Alex Corbisiero, Courtney Lawes, Ben Youngs and try scoring sensation Manu Tuilagi are all aged 22 or under and have graduated through the London Irish, Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers academies. They have all made their England debuts in the last 18 months or so and are hopefully the first of many to make the step from academy to club to country.
They will travel to New Zealand as part of a youthful looking squad, with London Wasps’ Joe Simpson aged just 23, Leicester Tigers’ Dan Cole and Northampton Saints duo Chris Ashton and Tom Wood just 24 and 54 cap veterans Tom Croft and Dylan Hartley still aged just 25.
All ten players will hope to play a major role in a successful Rugby World Cup and cement their place in the England team.
In their absence, the next generation of academy graduates will be looking to shine in Aviva Premiership Rugby and put themselves into international contention when the focus inevitably switches to Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.
Ten of England’s World Junior Championship Final starting fifteen have already played first team rugby for their Premiership Rugby club, most notably Owen Farrell who kicked Saracens to their maiden Premiership Rugby title in May.
That ten will look to add to their tally of first team appearances, whilst Worcester Warriors duo Andy Short and Matt Kvesic will have their first opportunity to play Premiership Rugby.
They will then hope to follow in the footsteps of players like Charlie Sharples, Henry Trinder, Joe Marler, Billy Twelvetrees, Jamie Gibson, James Gaskell and Alex Goode who have graduated through their club academies, become first team regulars and have been involved in the England senior or Saxons squads.
Last season the number of English Qualified Players (EQP) in Premiership Rugby club squads reached an all-time high of 67.5%, meaning on average there are 186 English players playing for their Premiership Rugby clubs every weekend.
Tournaments like the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series and the LV= Cup are providing Directors of Rugby with further opportunities for player development, in addition to the existing options of dual registration and the Aviva Premiership Rugby A League.
Premiership Rugby’s Head of Academies and Development Corin Palmer added, “Everyone in the club game wishes England a successful Rugby World Cup. There is an exciting crop of young players in the squad who have come through the club academies and the England age group teams and have a fantastic opportunity to do well for England on the world stage.
“The clubs strongly believe there are more talented players behind them waiting for their opportunity and that will make the next few rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby fascinating viewing as those young players stake a claim for a first team shirt or establish themselves as real stars in the absence of the some of their team mates at the Rugby World Cup.
“It is an exciting time for English rugby as we look forward to Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this month and beyond that to the 2015 tournament on our doorstep.”