Adrian Thompson will return for his third year of coaching the Australian Under 20s side in 2015 as the team prepares for the World Rugby Under 20 Championship to be held in Parma, Italy in June next year.
Also returning alongside Thompson will be his assistant coaches, Shane Arnold and Cam Blades as well as former NSW Waratahs and Wallabies Assistant Coach, Alan Gaffney who will be acting as a technical advisor.
Both Arnold and Blades have previously coached for Premier clubs in Brisbane and Sydney respectively and had coaching experience in the inaugural Buildcorp National Rugby Championship in 2014.
The National Under 20s coaching staff will look to bring together the best emerging Rugby talent in Australia as a part of the ARU’s Pathway to Gold program, which is focused on creating the next generation of Qantas Wallabies and Qantas Australian Sevens stars.
(If available for selection, Andrew Kellaway could be one of three returning players to the Australian Under 20s 2015 side.)
2014 saw the restructuring of the Pathway to Gold Program to include a Southern States Under 20s and National Under 20s Championships which provided more playing and development opportunities for players and coaches alike.
With a strong 5th place finish in the 2014 World Rugby Under 20 Championship, Australia has drawn a tough pool, with 2014 runners up South Africa, host nation Italy and Samoa.
Adrian Thompson said he was excited to continue his role in the Under 20s program, which is a key element of the ARU’s development pathway.
“Coaching the Under 20s is one of the great rewarding roles in Australian Rugby and it is one I really look forward to taking to new heights in 2015.
“We took a lot from the 2014 tournament and our 5th place finish was a solid improvement on the final result in 2013.
“Our main focus is continuing the development and enhancement of our young players so we create the next generation of elite Australian Rugby players across all forms of our game.
“We have a tough pool in 2015 but with solid preparation I have no doubt we will have the talent and depth to progress to the top four of the tournament and stake their claim in the semifinals.”
The Australian Under 20s will have a wealth of talent to draw from in 2015, including Andrew Kellaway (NSW Waratahs, NSW Country Eagles), Jonah Placid (Melbourne Rebels, Melbourne Rising) and Lolo Fakaosilea (Queensland Reds, Queensland Country).
Andrew Kellaway was a sensation in the 2014 World Rugby Under 20 Championship scoring ten tries, surpassing the previous record of most tries scored in the tournament (eight) by current All Blacks star Julian Savea.