Players will graduate from JWC to senior side

(IRB.COM) Friday 26 June 2009
By Tom Chick
 Players will graduate from JWC to senior side
John Jeffrey admits five or six players from Scotland's Under 20 squad in Japan could make the step up to Test rugby in the future

As the dust settled on an outstanding IRB TOSHBIA Junior World Championship and with many players potentially now moving on to bigger things following their performances, two managers also ended their involvement with Under 20 rugby.

The curtain was drawn on the Championship in Japan with New Zealand successfully defending their title by beating England 44-28 in Tokyo on a day which saw John Elliott and John Jeffrey blow the final whistle on their involvement as England and Scotland team managers.

Elliott bowed out after seeing England lose in the Junior World Championship final to New Zealand for the second successive year - albeit to a smaller losing margin - but he has been involved for more than 24 years and has, in the words of England Under 20 coach Mark Mapletoft, been a "stalwart" in English rugby.

"John and I go back a long way," explained Mapletoft. "He has been a great stalwart for English rugby over the last 20 years, not only with the juniors but with the Sevens and the seniors as well.

Satisfaction at progress

"He is a great bloke. He knows everything, everyone and whoever is coaching with us next year will find it a lot harder without John, but I wish him all the best as he is a good friend of mine."

As with many players who grace the Age Grade competitions, Elliott is always sure that some of the squad will go on to compete for higher national honours, as was the case when he was the manager of the Under 21 side that went to Australia in 1993 with the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio, Richard Hill, Mike Catt, Will Greenwood and Austin Healey in its ranks.

"We only know who will progress later on," explained Elliott. "In 1993 when we went to Australia - 10 years later eight of those played in the World Cup final or were in the squad. So the satisfaction comes later on when they progress.

"We always know that five or six will play for England, but we don't know which ones. Even with Lawrence, we knew he was a great player, but we weren't 100 percent sure whether he would go on to bigger honours, but that is what it is all about, the satisfaction you get later on."

Onus now on players

As for Jeffrey, having lost to England 30-7 in their Pool B match in Tokyo, the former Scotland international finished on a high with a 28-25 victory over Tonga in the ninth place play-off after being involved for seven years.

Having himself gone even further to become a member of the British & Irish Lions squad that won the series in Australia in 1989, the 'great white shark', like Elliott, shares the opinion that a number of players will always go on to play for their senior national sides.

"We normally have five or six that go on and I would be surprised if half a dozen don't go on from here, but it is now up to them. This [the JWC] does help but now some of them will not be able to play in the JWC next year because they will be too old, so the next step is up to them." said the former flanker.

Having also been a part of the Grand Slam winning side in 1990, Jeffrey acknowledged the level of competition that was on offer at the Championship and the ability to play teams outside of the Six Nations.

Missing the game

"The tournament is great for the boys, the standard and the intensity. We have been able to play nations we wouldn't normally, countries other than in the Six Nations. We have played all three South Sea island teams, and the hosts Japan which is excellent," added Jeffrey.

When asked what the future holds for the pair of them, their love for the game was clear.

"Ask Mrs. Elliott!" said the England team manager. "A bit of gardening and apparently I have got to learn to cook. I will miss the game tremendously - it is something you pretend isn't going to happen, but it will."

Jeffrey added: "I will still be involved in rugby, but to what extent I am not sure yet."