I can´t say I´ve been a great fan of even more Swedish national teams being formed to represent the country abroad. With U18s, males, females, 7s and 15s all clamouring for a role in representing Sweden it is easy to see why the Union is wary about financing a further age group, U20.
There are, unfortunately, no U20 leagues or tournaments in Sweden and this I think should be a requirement before any teams are sent abroad. In this case there are, however, a number of factors which suggest that this U20 team should be supported.
The U20 age group is growing in importance internationally at the expense of U18. It is important to test our strength at this level.
Almost all the players are based in Sweden and are playing regularly in various leagues. All five of the Exiles players have played at least the odd game for the Swedish champions (I´m still counting Jonathan Craenen as an Exiles player although he´s now studying in Belgium) and at least five more play regularly for other Allsvenska clubs. In fact I think half a dozen of the young men have been selected for national senior squads and three of them have in fact already played for Sweden.
I don´t know all of the players from the smaller clubs but this seems close to be the best we can put together, apart from perhaps a couple of players from Pingvin. As has been mentioned the team has congregated three times and put up not a bad show at the Stockholm Tens.
Their coach, Henry van Niekerk, has first as assistant and then as senior coach led Exiles to their last five Swedish titles and in doing so has built up a coaching competence which deserves recognition at a higher level.
In short, let´s see how they get on against not the strongest of opposition.
University rugby in Scotland has in the past been at a modest level but in recent years there has been a big improvement. Stirling are not among the best while Edinburgh are the current champions. In the latter case, Sweden will I think be playing one of the larger faculties, engineering.
I can´t really assess the strength of the opposition in advance, but I will stick my neck out and state that we should win both matches. Defeats would suggest that we have more to work on at this level.
I will be attending both matches and expect to file match reports on the Exiles home page.
When money as always is short, my family has said that we are prepared to give financial support to the Union when teams are well prepared, the best Swedish players are chosen, and the teams are well coached and managed. We consider this to be the case with the present U20 team.