Dean Ryan: England too focused on athletic development
Tom Hamilton
February 2, 2016
O'Shea: Jones will excite players and the media

Worcester Warriors boss Dean Ryan has called for a re-think over the way England develops players and says there is too much of a focus on short-term success rather than long-term development.

Current England coach Eddie Jones has set a goal of developing four to five world-class players by 2019 as he attempts to build a side capable of winning the World Cup in Japan. The focus will be on the likes of Maro Itoje, Jack Clifford and Henry Slade to whether they can make that transition but Ryan feels the age-grade system needs a re-think if England are to produce the quantity of world-class players the All Blacks do.

England won two Junior World Championships in 2013 and 2014 but Ryan says the Rugby Football Union should be less focused on silverware and more motivated by developing talent.

"We haven't developed world-class players [since 2003] which suggests there is no joining up in the sporadic four-year cycle," Ryan told ESPN. "The RFU needs to have a long-term view on success. We are too focused on athletic development and size at Under-20 level than player development. It is a huge issue for us as a game - the focus on short-term success.

"I remember there was a document on a strategic plan to win the Under-20s. Why? It has nothing to do with it. Winning isn't that important at that level. New Zealand don't always win it but they have the best track record of getting world-class players into their senior teams. They have them stacked up.

"Their approach is more philosophical in the way they develop their players. Their focus is on development; of course the team want to win it but the strategic approach is that if they win it, it is because of how they got there."

Ryan feels that from 2003 to the present day, there has been a "lack of a clear strategy over the way forward" but sees signs of progress in Eddie Jones' first Elite Player Squad.

"Eddie's EPS squad has a real feel of development," Ryan said. "Tom Youngs captures this best - Eddie's not saying Luke Cowan-Dickie is better than Tom Youngs. He's saying that Tom Youngs is third choice, in his mind, and is not going to get any better. So Eddie is looking to get someone, like Cowan-Dickie, past him.

"A similar example is Paul Hill over Davey Wilson; he's giving Hill his chance. He knows what he wants so he is creating opportunities. There is no point gathering experience in an individual, if they aren't good enough."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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