Wales Under 18 head coach Allan Lewis has finalised his 27-strong squad to travel to South Africa next month in a new initiative to further enhance rugby development in Wales.
The side will play South Africa, England and France over a nine-day period in a bid to better prepare the players for professional rugby.
Lewis said: “It’s a development tour which will provide a wonderful opportunity for boys to experience international rugby away from home. Most of these players will be in contention for a place in next season’s Wales under 20 squad so playing three matches in nine days against England, France and South Africa will give a fantastic insight into a tournament environment such as the Junior World Championship. Our philosophy is to develop a game where we put pressure on the opposition with the ball in hand and we will be further developing this in South Africa. The process will be more important than the results in these games, I would like to see us come back having played some 15-man rugby.
“Most of the squad were involved in the FIRA-AER tournament at Easter in Madrid, although we have extended the age group to include all boys who have just completed Year 13 in order to give the boys born between September and January an equal level of international rugby to prepare them for Under 20 rugby.
“It is true to say the gap is getting closer between age grade rugby and senior, professional rugby and it is our responsibility as a Union to provide players for the Regions who are capable of putting their hands up for places in the RaboDirect Pro 12, Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup. Through providing experiences such as this tour, we aim to make the progression from one level to another as seamless as possible.”
The squad leaves for South Africa on Monday, 6 August and returns on Sunday, 19 August with games in Stellenbosch and George.
Wales Under 18 Development XV training squad
Forwards: Callum Jay Lewis (Blues/ Aberdare Boys/ Aberdare), Nicky Smith (Ospreys/ Gower College), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys/ Pentrehafod Comp/ Waunarlwydd), Jack Dunning (Blues / Coleg Morgannwg), Alex Jeffries (Dragons / Cross Keys College / Newport), Elliot Dee (Dragons / Newbrdge Comp / Bedwas), Thomas Ball (Scarlets / CSG / Kidwelly), Ethan Lewis (Blues), Joshua Helps (Scarlets), Lance Randell (Dragons), James Sheeky (Blues), Scott Matthews (Dragons/ Rhymney Comp / Cross Keys), Sion Bennett (Scarlets), Joseph Tomlin-Reeves (Ospreys), James Benjamin (Dragons), Benjamin Roach (Blues/ Llanishen / Cardiff)
Backs: Connor Lloyd (Scarlets/ Ysgol y Preseli), Joel Raikes (Blues/ Gartholwg/ Ynysybwl), Jack Maynard (Scarlets/ Bro Myrddin/ CSG / Carmarthen Athletic), Ryan Evans (Ospreys/ Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera), Craig Woodall (Scarlets / CSG / Scarlets), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets / Strade / Llanelli Wanderers), Ben Roberts (Ospreys/ Gower College / Gorseinon), Dafydd Wyn Howells (Ospreys/ Ystalyfera / Abercrave), Ashley Evans (Ospreys / Llangatwg / Glynneath), Hallam Amos (Dragons / Monmouth School), Dion Jones (Scarlets /Rydal Pen Rhos / Llanelli)
Wales Under 18 Development Tour Fixtures:
Wales Under 18 Development XV v England – Fri Aug 10 14 30, Hugenote High, Wellington
Wales Under 18 Development XV South Africa Schools – Tues Aug 14 1700, Outeniqua park Stadium, George
Wales Under 18 Development XV France – Sat Aug 18 1100, UWC, Bellville