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Bears duo selected for England U17 development camp

Two Bristol Bears Academy U18 youngsters have been named in a 48-player squad for this weekend’s England U17 development camp, in which a north v south academy fixture will take place.

Matty Jones (SGS Filton) and Dylan Power (Colston's) are both included for the camp, which is designed to provide pathway staff an opportunity to identify next year’s England men U18s squad, the majority of whom will play in August’s U18 International Series in South Africa.

The development camp also provides England men U18s head coach Jonathan Pendlebury a chance to introduce playing principles and themes to the group, while also providing players an opportunity to develop their game outside of their usual school and academy environment.

The competitive fixture on Sunday between ‘north v south academies’ also allows guest coaches and support staff an opportunity to manage players and teams outside of their usual environments.

The camp will be led by Pendlebury, with support from Tom Harrison (Leicester Tigers) and James Craig (Northampton Saints) who will coach the south team, while the north squad will be overseen by Andy Dawling (Saracens) and Alex Guest (Gloucester).

England men 18s head coach Jonathan Pendlebury said: “This is the very start of the pathway journey for these players, the majority of whom will go on to form our U18 squad whose international season begins with the tour to South Africa in August.

“We have selected who we feel are the best year 12/U17s players at this moment in time, and this is recognition for their performances over the past few months.

“They have been chosen through their performances in school fixtures and the academy leagues as well as through communication with their academy coaches. This is another development opportunity on top of what they get in their academies.

“This is the second time the RFU have hosted the north-south fixture, building on the success of last year and it’s an opportunity not just to identify players, but also for academy coaches and management to broaden their own skills and experience.”

RFU head of regional academies Don Barrell said: “Over the past few years we have proactively sought to engage academy staff so they have opportunities to come in and work, share and learn from other people from different clubs.

“We’ve invited coaches, medics, S&C staff and analysts to collaborate together, with support from the RFU, and put on a weekend’s worth of events culminating with a north v south fixture on Sunday between the best players from those academies.

“It is a great development opportunity for all involved, and we’re thankful to all the academies for their support and in turn we hope they will find it a hugely valuable experience in their development as coaches and practitioners.”