A place in the ISRFC Lambs National squad is a much coveted prize, and if yesterdays inter-regional matches were anything to go by, that prize is becoming ever more coveted and ever more difficult to achieve.
Both the South West v South East and Midlands v North games went right down to the wire; with both games coming down to less than a converted try.
The games were in essence trial games for the Northern XV v Southern XV fixture this weekend, which again acts as a trial for full National XV selection.
If the evidence of yesterday is anything to go by then the Lambs are going to have an excellent outfit by the end of the month.
It was the Midlands and the South West who came out as the victors yesterday; the Midlands winning 15-13 against the North while the South West beat the South East 20-15. These were the sorts of fixtures that the selectors must have been dreaming of, a tight game really highlights who the top players are.
If a player can still execute their skills in a tight and intense game then they are far more valuable than a player who can execute then very well at 25-0 but not so much at 25 all. As the Lambs saying goes, they want to play â€˜Fast and Freeâ€™, so those that have been selected for the Northern and Southern squads can give themselves a hearty pat on the back for being able to play in such a way even in such an intense game.
Of course the down side of such close matches from a selection point of view is that many players will miss out narrowly on making the next squad, such is the competition for places. It is a tough pill to swallow, but they must remember that to have come this far is a real testament to their talent, many of their school teammates will not have made it even to nomination, they did.
To those that have been selected it is on to the Northern XV v Southern XV game on Sunday. The fixture has been moved from Windsor RFC to Maidenhead RFC.
The Southern selectors have chosen a 25 man squad with eighteen different schools represented. Millfield School have the largest contingent in the squad, indeed across both squads, with three players; Will Radford, Lloyd Delahunty and Robbie Richardson.
That their contribution is the largest is no real surprise, reflecting the strength of their schoolâ€™s rugby. There are plenty of Schools in the Southern squad with two representatives though, Brentwood, Canford, Colfeâ€™s, Framlingham, and Harrow.
The squad is very neatly balanced with twelve players each from the South West and South East, while Angus Smith provides front row depth.
The Northern XV squad is slightly smaller, with just 22 players named. Sixteen schools are represented, with Radley, Rugby, Berkhamsted, Bedford, St Peterâ€™s and Ampleforth all contributing two players each.
As with the Southern squad, the Northern squad is also finely balanced with eleven players from the North and 11 from the Midlands making the cut.
Southern XV Squad:
Rory Garrett, Abingdon School â€“ Fly Half;
Iain Stewart, Brentwood School â€“ Prop;Â
Conor Philips, Brentwood School â€“ Hooker;
Nial Brown, Canford School â€“ Hooker;
Mike Haines, Canford School â€“ Centre;
Charlie Banks, Colfeâ€™s School â€“ Full Back;
Eliott Roofe, Colfeâ€™s School;
Ben Bruce, Cheltenham College â€“ Lock;
Piers Oâ€™Connor, Eastbourne College â€“ Centre;
Fred Davis, Eton College â€“ Prop;
Henry Thompson, Exeter School â€“ Scrum Half;
Matt Warren, Framlingham College â€“ Back Row;
Stephen Packer, Framlingham College â€“ Back Row;
Freddie Chalmers, Harrow School â€“ Fly Half;
Cyprian Owen, Harrow School â€“ Wing;
Will Van Klaveren, Kings College, Wimbledon â€“ Scrum Half;
Michael Peek, Kingâ€™s, Taunton â€“ Back Row;
Jamie Williams, Kingswood School â€“ Back Row;
Robbie Richardson, Millfield School â€“ Lock;
Lloyd Delahunty, Millfield School â€“ Centre;
Will Radford, Millfield School â€“ Back Row;
Sam Rossiter, Pangbourne College;
Will Bennett, Reigate Grammar School;
Will Martin, Sherborne â€“ Back Row;
Angus Smith, St. Peterâ€™s, York â€“ Prop.
Charlie Samways, Canford School; Tom Simpson, King Edwardâ€™s, Southampton; Nick Litten, Exeter School; Dan John, Kingâ€™s Bruton; Max Ellery, Bedeâ€™s School
Northern XV Team:
1. Thomas West – Radley College;
2. Simon Waller â€“ Yarm School;
3. Johnnie Martin – Rugby School;
4. Iain Billington – Berkhamsted School;
5. Nathan Stansfield – Bolton School;
6. Liam Fitt – Bedford School;
7. Matthew Retchless – Wisbech Grammar School;
8. Nick Richardson – RGS Newcastle;
9. Angus Hardy – Berkhamsted School;
10. Miles Lloyd â€“ Sedburgh;
11. David Elliot – Durham School;
12. David Harrison – Hymers College;
13. Charles Greswold – St Peters York;
14. George Adams – Bedford School;
15. Kit Goodfellow – Rugby School.
Josh Pieterse – St. Columbas College;â€¨ Toby Swift – Radley College;â€¨ Sam Morris – Woodhouse Grove;â€¨ Nicholas Stephen St Peters York;â€¨ Patrick Nichol â€“ Ampleforth; â€¨Josh Gray – The Perse Upper; â€¨Roland Walker â€“ Ampleforth.