Spicer comments on England's 'very successful' EU Nations campaignNovember 2, 2021
Head coach John Spicer has praised the England Men’s U17 team of international debutants for their performances at the EU Nations Cup tournament in Brno, Czech Republic.
Spicer described their campaign as ‘very successful’ after the team finished seventh in what was a tightly-contested eight-team competition.
South Africa came out on top as overall winners while hosts Czech Republic was second and Slovakia third.
“It was very successful”, said Spicer. “We were playing an age group up so we knew it would be a challenge but it was a good opportunity for the players to get international experience.
“Especially a high-class tournament like that to initiate them into the pressures and the physicality of it and how to prepare really, it’s the start of that learning curve.”
‘They’re one of the best teams’
Spicer praised the team’s spirit and relationship both in the pool and outside of it. He said: “I’ve been coaching for quite a few years now and they’re one of the best teams in terms of getting on and gelling that I’ve ever coached really.
“They all get on really well and it was a good gelling performance for them to get together. As coaches, we were really pleased with them.
“Getting on with your team and being aware and helping each other up – the bonding is very important.
“If we can combine that then with increased technique and fitness, we’ll have a very very good team.”
Speaking about how the team performed in Brno, he said: “Everyone in the team scored at least two goals, it just shows you that there’s quality across the board and it’s not just coming from one or two players.
“Will Thompson was the top goal scorer with 15 which is really good. The highest goal scorer in the tournament was 21 so for being a seventh-place team, to get 15 was really good.
“This is their first big experience of international polo so they’re going to learn a lot and know what level they need to attain.”
England 10 Slovakia 15
Scorers: William Thompson (four), Ben Alderson (one), Ryan-Jay Griffiths (two), Cayden Down (one), George Barnicle (one, James Coleman (one)
Spicer said: “The physicality was a shock but I was pleased that they competed and their heads didn’t go down and they were very good. Throughout all the games they competed well and we were really pleased with that.”
England 7 Austria 15
Scorers: William Thompson (five), Cayden Down (one), George Barnicle (one)
Spicer said: “The second match of that day was probably one of our most disappointing performances because I think they weren’t prepared for that fatigue.
“They gave it all in that first match and to try and reproduce it in another game on the same day was difficult. But, that’s what we’re there for – to get that experience and learning curve that they’ve got to do that.”
England 11 Lithuania 16
Scorers: Aaron Downer (two), Arish Patel (two), Henry Jackson (one), Ryan-Jay Griffiths (one), Ryan James (two), James Coleman (three).
Spicer said: “I think they went five goals down in the second quarter but we played to their level after that which is great. The thing about the team is that every one of them can play in that starting seven – they’re all at that level.”
England 6 Switzerland 21
Scorers: William Thompson (two), Thomas Davis (one), Henry Jackson (two), George Barnicle (one)
Spicer said: “A good thing to learn from this is that they need stronger legs to cope with that pressure when they’re on the ball.”
England 16 Scotland 9
Scorers: Will Thompson (four), Thomas Davis (three), Henry Jackson (three), Arish Patel (two), Ben Alderson (one), Ryan-Jay Griffiths (one), Ryan James (one), James Coleman (one).
Spicer said: “That game was terrific. It’s one of those that you’re expected to win so there’s that extra pressure but we had a game plan. We said we’d press them right from the start and put pressure on them and it paid dividends. It was pretty competitive in the first quarter and then early in the second we went four goals up and we were on top of them and in control of the game. We wanted to cut them out of the game as early as possible and we did that early in the second quarter so that was good play by us. We had our game plan and we executed it well.”
Head coach: John Spicer, Assistant coach: Trevor Down, Team Manager: James Jackson