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Home > News > England Counties expand their horizons
Your News England Counties expand their horizons

The England RU Counties XV, the representative flagship of the RU club game outside the Premiership, will break new ground at home and away in 2009 with the unveiling of an exciting five-match programme.

Having already included Chile, Russia, Argentina, Uruguay, the USA and Canada in their expansive oversees itinerary since they were founded in 2002, they will add Korea and Japan to the list in June 2009.

They will also tread the Twickenham turf for the first time when they entertain France, their oldest regular rivals, at the stadium after the Six Nations Championship game between the senior sides on Sunday, March 15, 2009.

The Counties XV programme opens with another game against an Ireland Club XV at Donnybrook in Dublin on Friday, February 27, 2009.

"This is probably the most exciting programme we've ever had," says Manager Danny Hodgson: "We were the first senior England team to play in Russia a couple of years ago, which was a tremendous experience, and now the players can look forward to another 'first' in the Far East.

"The Korean section of the trip will also embrace some outreach work in schools and clubs. That aspect of our recent trip to Canada proved very popular with both our hosts and our players and I'm very pleased to see it built into the programme.

"One of the strengths of the Counties set-up is that it gives developing IRB countries the opportunity to host an England XV and all our experiences on tour, which started in Chile in 2002, have been extremely positive and enjoyable.

"But not only that, we will be playing at Twickenham for the first time, which is a massive thrill for all of us. It's the stadium that every rugby player dreams about playing in, so it's a massive milestone for the Counties XV."

The Counties selection team for the spring games has been extended with the recruitment of Glen Wilson. A member of the inaugural party that toured Chile, the former Wakefield and Doncaster back-row forward will be responsible for vetting players from Division Three North.

Says Manager Hodgson: "We've been inundated with nominations and at this stage every Division Two team and most of Division Three North and South have been watched."

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