Allan Lewis has named his squad to tour South Africa
Wales Under 18 head coach Allan Lewis will take a squad of 26 to South Africa on Monday to take part in an eight-day international tournament in Cape Town, George and Stellenbosch.
Wales play three capped games during their stay in South Africa, kicking off with a match against England Under 18 on Friday 15 August (2pm) at City Park, Cape Town. They then play hosts South Africa at Outeniqua Park, George on Tuesday 19 August (4pm), and complete their tour with a clash against France at Paul Roos Markotter, Stellenbosch on Saturday 23 August (2pm).
It is the third year Lewis has taken a squad to this tournament and he feels it is a vital stepping stone between age grade and senior rugby.
"It is an excellent development tool in readiness for the Junior World Championship - the bulk of the England and South Africa teams we played against in August 2012 went on to contest the Junior World Championship final in New Zealand in June of this year, that is the standard of the opposition we will face."
Wales defeated France convincingly last year, narrowly losing 17-15 to England in the last play of the game and 14-13 to South Africa.
"Obviously we are going out to South Africa to win all three games," added Lewis, "but as always we are looking to develop and improve players above all else and to produce an optimum level of performance.
"England are first up and as always we know they will be an extremely powerful and polished outfit, as will South Africa, while France have been training together for some time and will already have played a match in South Africa before the tournament begins. The benefits of the tour will go much further than the matches themselves. The players will be immersed in a totally professional environment for almost two weeks and experience what it takes to step up to the next level."
Scarlets flanker Tom Phillips has been named as tour captain while the squad contains only two players yet to play for Wales Under 18 - Blues prop Joe Jones who was on loan with RGC 1404 last season and Scarlets utility back Jordan Roberts.
Wales Under 18 squad for international tournament in South Africa:
?Forwards:?Kieron Assirratti (Blues/ Coleg y Cymoedd/ Wattstown), Robert Lewis (Blues/ St Peters / Coleg y Cymoedd), Harrison Walsh (Ospreys / Bishopgore / Mumbles), Keagan Bale (Dragons/ Coleg Gwent / Caerleon), Liam Belcher (Blues/ Coleg y Cymoedd / Pontypridd), Dafydd Hughes (Scarlets / Llandovery College / Llandovery), Joe Jones (Blues/ RGC/ Uni of South Wales), Matthew Dodd (Ospreys / Olchfa / Dunvant), Seb Davies (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Pentyrch), Calum Haggett (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Gilfach Goch), Tom Phillips (Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar / Llangennech), Harrison Keddie (Dragons / Coleg Gwent / Caerleon), Shaun Evans (Scarlets/ Coleg Sir Gar/ Felinfoel), Jon Fox (Ospreys/ Gower College / Swansea), Josh Middleton (Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar / Kidwelly)??Backs: Matthew Aubrey (Ospreys/ Gower College/ Pontarddulais), Michael Hale (Blues / Glantaf / St Josephs), Dan Jones (Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar / Carmarthen Quins), Luke Price (Ospreys / Swansea / Maesydderwen), Owen Watkin (Ospreys / Bridgend College / Bryncethin), Joe Gage (Ospreys/ Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera / Abercrave), James Whittingham (Blues / Cowbridge), Shaun Pearce (Scarlets / Glan y Mor / Bury Port), Elis-Wyn Benham (Coleg y Cymoedd / St Joseph's), Jordan Roberts (Scarlets / Pembrokeshire College / Milford Haven), Morgan Williams (RGC/ Coleg Llandrillo / Caernarfon).
All three games will be shown as live on S4C following each match.
Saturday 16 August - 10:00pm
Rygbi Pawb yn Ne Affrica: Cymru v Lloegr (Wales v England) Wednesday 20 August - 10:00pm
Rygbi Pawb yn Ne Affrica: Cymru v De Affrica (Wales v South Africa) Sunday 24 August - 10:00pm
Rygbi Pawb yn Ne Affrica: Cymru v Ffrainc (Wales v France)
We hear from Dove Men's Player of the Series Dan Biggar in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We also speak to scrum half rivals Rhys Webb and Mike Phillips, the Swansea prop who will be a key player for Oxford in the Varsity Match at Twickenham, Ian Williams, plus John Dawes, John Taylor and Peter Morgan pay tribute to Ray Williams.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.