Well my point is would he have gotten a contract at Tigers in the first place without the U20's showing?
On the whole Scotland v England thing is it the unions development or the Prem clubs academy development? RFU help fund academies but the Premiership have sole control.
Yeah but he presumably plays for Ireland u20 anyway considering he was eligible to play for any Ireland team, no? Very few u20 starters don't get a pro contract so it'd be bonkers for him not to utilise the exiles program when English clubs or country didn't rate him.
He's a strange case, usually it's the reverse that's complained about on here i.e English age grade player playing for Wales/Scotland/Ireland. Had Tadhg McElroy made it at Sarries there'd be a far more interesting convo. Firstly on Kelly, I don't want a guy who's going to play for us and then England, secondly he probably has more chance at England caps than Ireland but finally I don't like guys using one union at a very competitive level for their own benefit with no intention of continuing further*. At the end of the day it's a kid who made the bizarre decision to be English when he could be Irish, playing for England, it's not particularly egregious but there should be barriers to / deterrents from using one unions structures and jumping ship immediately.
I'm adamant that u18 development shouldn't really be considered. I rate that 18-22 period as far more important for development than any other. You see across all sports that certain clubs/nations can turn raw talent into effective professional players, and some can't. If you had two clones and sent one through Leinster's academy and one through Connacht's you'd bet on the Leinster player coming out better despite having a tougher route to first team rugby. Getting noticed at 16/17 is far more down to the individual in my opinion, provided they're in a club/school that exposes them to the highest level of competition within their region.
I'm not exactly condoning picking up South African 18 year olds or anything nuts like that but equally if you're going to sign an 18 year old to a five year contract and successfully develop them into an international standard player go for it, it's a losing play in the long run for sure.
Scotland throwing 20 year olds who've barely stepped foot in the country is a tough one. Like, it should be so easy for England to stop it in the majority of cases, just a case of senior management making a phone call every few months expressing interest and providing work ons. If they can't do that no wonder guys are jumping ship but otherwise Scotland shouldn't be a big enough draw for a kid not to back themselves to get into the England set up within 18 months to three years.
*u20 has proper competition whereas u18 tends to be more blitz rugby and one off development games, which is why it's my line in the sand.