The first to announce were Italy and it was no great shock to see Sebastian Negri, Callum Braley and Jake Polledri all named. Negri has featured since before graduating from Hartpury, whereas Polledri and Braley both made the breakthrough last season, all of them going to the RWC2019 in Japan.
Earlier today Scotland made their squad announcement. Adam Hastings had been pretty much nailed on, having appeared a number of times last season and in the world cup, but it was fantastic to see Alex Craig getting international recognition after an excellent start to the season with Gloucester Rugby.
Craig is another great advertisement for the Hartpury rugby programme, having played played AASE, BUCS and RFC over the past six years or so. He was an important part of Hartpury University RFC’s Championship squad over the past two seasons, before cementing his place as a first-team contender at Kingsholm.
No sooner had we processed that information, than Wales named their playing group. Ross Moriarty, with 40+ caps and British Lions tour under his belt, was no great surprise, but there is a first involvement for 18-year old Louis Rees-Zammit. The winger was playing AASE rugby for Hartpury college last season, before a series of outstanding performances have made him one of the hottest young properties in Premiership Rugby, a new senior contract with Gloucester Rugby being also announced earlier this week.
We are left wondering what comes next.
England should name Jonny May and Ellis Genge as a minimum and there is plenty of discussion around the likes of Dan Robson, Elliot Stooke and Jonny Hill – all products of the Academy. Ruari McConnochie, a former RFC man, was of course a part of the England RWC squad also.
Then there’s Ireland. We haven’t produced an Irish international since Dan Tuohy a few years ago, but there’s got a be a chance for Billy Burns based on his form for Ulster and his relationship with in-form scrum-half John Cooney. Maybe Munster’s Mike Haley also? Only time will tell.
What we need now is a couple of French lads…