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Junior coaches announced for next two-year cycle

England Touch has today announced the coaches who will be guiding the national age group teams over the next two-year cycle.

It is a particularly exciting time for age group Touch in England, following an unprecedented clean sweep at the 2019 Junior Touch Championships. Not only were all four gold medals brought home from Paris, but between them the teams were unbeaten throughout the tournament, winning 27 of their 29 matches and drawing the other two.

This was followed by a positive European Touch Challenge Cup in Alicante, where an England Lionesses team won gold and the England Lions came third, with both teams having average ages still in the teens.

Jon Weston-Stanley remains as Boys 18s Head Coach, after leading the team to gold in Paris. Another Head Coach from the previous cycle, Andy Penniceard, also remains part of the set-up, but is moving from the Mixed 15s to the Girls 18s.

The two other Head Coaches are familiar faces but are new in these positions. Sam Lawton-Davies steps up from Assistant Coach to be Head Coach of the Mixed 18s, with Claire Rylance, who was the Girls 18s Team Manager in Paris, becomes the Head Coach of the Mixed 15s.

With the 2020 Junior Touch Championships being held in Cardiff and the prospect of England sending teams to a Youth World Cup for the first time in 2021, Head of Elite Performance Sammie Phillips says that the development pathways for teenagers within Touch have never been more promising.

“We are delighted to be announcing the appointments of our new National Junior Squad Head Coaches for the next cycle,” she says. “We had a fantastic weekend in Paris in August, and we know that we will need to be even better in Cardiff next summer. There is also the prospect of a development tour in 2020 and the 2021 Youth World Cup, so the youngsters and the coaches all have a lot to aim for.

“All four of the coaches deserve their appointments. Jon and Andy have proven themselves during the last couple of years, while Sam and Claire are experienced coaches and international players in their own right. We’re looking forward to seeing the coaches, players and the teams develop over the next cycle.”

High Performance Director Ben Powell says that the youth development pathway is becoming increasingly important for England Touch.

“The number of quality players in our age groups has risen dramatically in a short space of time, and we’re seeing them perform not just in the Junior Touch Championships but also on the bigger international stage, too,” he adds.

“We had a number of teenagers in our Opens squads at the 2019, and the Lions squads at the European Touch Challenge Cup competed superbly against more experienced opponents from across the continent.

“What is especially pleasing is that players are continuing to play Touch throughout their teenage years, where other sports can see a drop-off in numbers. And as players improvement their game skills and understanding, as well as experience, this can only be beneficial as we look to take the next step in our development as a nation.”

Dan Powell has also been confirmed as the new Head Coach for the England Mixed 30s team for the new four-year cycle. Powell has already been working with the other Senior coaches during the recent HPTS camps and has gained experience both with Nottingham and the Midlands.

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