English Rugby
Callard calls for draft system
ESPN Staff
January 23, 2013
England Saxons coach Jon Callard puts his players through their paces in the warm-up, England Saxons v Irish Wolfhounds, Sandy Park, Exeter, England, January 28, 2012
Jon Callard will take charge of the Saxons for their games against the Ireland Wolfhounds and Scotland 'A' in the coming weeks © Getty Images
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England Saxons boss Jon Callard has urged the Premiership clubs to adopt a draft system for the country's best young players in order to safeguard the future success of the national side.

Callard, who will take charge of England's second string for their clashes with the Ireland Wolfhounds and Scotland 'A' in the coming weeks, would like to see the members of the U20 squad shared between the Premiership clubs to boost their development and also guaranteed game time with an increase in the number of replacements allowed for each game.

"Our young players do need to play. You can do all your training, all your fitness but playing is the only way you learn. That is the only way they develop," Callard told PA Sport. "I am not going to win any favours here but I am still one for the England players coming out of the U20s being drafted out and playing Premiership rugby.

"It doesn't matter what their age is, put them in the Premiership. So say X club have three great hookers and another English club have only one, chuck them in the other one. We should have the ability to get young kids playing. That way the base will get stronger. We all have an obligation in this country to produce a very, very successful senior team.

"We have seen the power of what a successful senior team can do in any sport, how it galvanises the country. There is no reason why we shouldn't be trying to do that in England, certainly with what is coming around the corner in 2015. It has to start now.

"If you put a think tank together and try and get people to come up with ideas, you will get something tangible on how you integrate young players. I'll chuck this one out there too. I would even like PRL (Premiership Rugby) to change the eight-man bench so that two of the guys are academy developing players, you can take them on, take them off and they don't count as substitutions."

Callard's comments come amid reports that Leicester fly-half George Ford - one of English rugby's rising stars - is poised to leave Welford Road in search of more game time elsewhere. "I have a lot of admiration for Cockers because that club is an expectant club. He has done a great job. If that is the decision he has taken with his coaching staff (about Ford) that is fine," Callard said.

"But from an England perspective - speaking generally across the board and not specifically related to George - younger players have to play. That is the only way they develop.

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