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Wales U18

France have proved a major force at U18 international level

Wales U18 set to kick-off international season

Wales Women aren’t the only side in action at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday with Wales Under 18 facing France to kick off their international season.

Chris Horsman’s side are using the match as preparation for the upcoming Under 18 Six Nations Festival which takes place in England.

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“At Under 18 level we’ve had some great results in the last few years. We’ve beaten England four times, we’ve beaten France, and we’ve beaten South Africa too,” said Horsman.

“That hasn’t happened by chance. It has happened because the players have put in a lot of hard work and also because within our environment we have focused on ourselves. France won’t go away from the DNA that defines them as a rugby nation, but we will look at our camp only.

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“I have told the boys to go out and showcase the best age grade talent we have in Wales.”

Former Wales prop Horsman has worked at the heart of Welsh rugby’s age grade system alongside Geraint Lewis for the last few years.

He wants the country’s next generation to entertain. It should mean their game with France will make for an exciting watch at the home of Cardiff Blues.

Horsman added: “Geraint and I always want to challenge the players. We want to play the game with tempo, at speed, and with ball in hand. We want to put our players into space as many times as possible. To do that you need high skill levels. That’s what we’ve been working on with the squad.”

“This year we have changed a few things in terms of the age grade programme. Geraint Lewis and I have been doing the Under 18s and Under 20s for the last few years and we have now decided to change the date of birth for eligibility from September 1 to January 1.

“It means we now have a lot of younger players, but we also have an Under 19 team which means we have more players in the system overall. That can only be a good thing because it exposes more players to the system and the facilities we have.”

Wales U19 play two matches against Japan and a Test against England in April.

“In terms of preparation it has been going well for the Under 18s. We had our first block in October and that focused on skills and fitness testing which went really well. We then went into the regional age grade programme and we’ve been working with all five regions and the Welsh Exiles programme.

“We cut that down to 90 players for an east and west training camp and from there it has been cut to a 32-man squad and then the match day squad for the France game.

“The boys have been very responsible so far. The big thing for me as a coach at this level is creating a learning environment for the boys. Coaches have to lead, but we want the boys involved as much as possible in terms of how we play and how we run the environment. I want it to be player led and I want guys who are keen to learn. That’s very important to me.

“Another thing that has been going really well is the regional involvement in the pathway. We’ve had the regional age grade coaches in with our group and that has been excellent. It allows us to share best practices and that can only help us all in terms of developing players which is why we’re here. The regions have been fantastic.

“I’m happy with where we are, but like any team we won’t be able to make a real judgement until we play a game. The players coming through our pathway have been improving as players and people. I have also worked with Dr Camilla Knight who is an expert in working with the parents of players in high performance environments. It’s important for us we engage the families of our players in how we are supporting their children because we have a duty of care to them.”

Wales U18 v France: (Sunday 17 March, 4.15pm, Cardiff Arms Park).
Tickets available to print at home from www.cardiffblues.com/tickets and from 10am at WRU shop, Westgate Street

Jacob Beetham (Cardiff Blues) ; Louis Rees-Zammit (Exiles), Mason Grady (Cardiff Blues), Bradley Roderick (capt, Ospreys), Carrick Modonough (Dragons) ; Ed Dunford (Exiles), Dylan Davies (Dragons) ; Samuel O’Connor (Scarlets), Oliver Burrows (Ospreys), Iestyn Haskins (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Anstey (Cardiff Blues), Christ Tshiunza (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Thomas (Ospreys), Harri Deaves (Ospreys), Evan Lloyd (Cardiff Blues)

Replacements : Rhodri King (Scarlets), Theo Bevacqua (Exiles), Lewys Jones (Ospreys), Joe Peard (Dragons), Harry Breeze (Scarlets), Ethan Lloyd (Cardiff Blues), Thomas Matthews (Exiles), Daniel John (Exiles)

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Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
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Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season
Wales U18 set to kick-off international season