Nowell & Cowan Dickie, the Newlyn kids who took on the world

Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jack NowellJack Nowell and Luke Cowan-Dickie first clapped eyes on each other as five-year-olds playing mini rugby at Penzance & Newlyn and have been inseparable ever since.
Today the pair will complete a remarkable rise through the rugby ranks by lining up for England U20s in the Junior World Championship final against Wales.
Proud Cornishmen both, they followed the same career path from Penzance, through the increasingly productive breeding ground of Truro College and into the Exeter Chiefs academy, from where they have become regulars for England U20s.
Nowell told The Rugby Paper: “We’re both from the same area and know everything about each other. I’m from Newlyn and Luke’s from Heamoor, which is about a mile away, and I can even remember the first training session he turned up to.
“None of us had a clue who he was, we just saw this kid arriving with the top button of his jersey fastened up and thought, ‘who’s this guy?’ We took the Mickey until we saw how he played and no one was laughing after that, I can tell you.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve seen. He plays like a man possessed the way he carries the ball and he’s been one of our best players at the JWC.”
The admiration is mutual. “Jack hasn’t changed much… he’s still got blondish hair and is just a poser really,” jokes Cowan-Dickie. “He used to turn up at Penzance & Newlyn with his mittens, scrum-cap and all the gear, putting the rest of us to shame.
“But he’s worked really hard on his game and is getting the rewards. He used to want to run sideways and take the long way round, but now he just powers straight through the middle, has great footwork and is a really hard man to stop.”
Hooker Cowan-Dickie has been a revelation during the JWC and can count himself unlucky not to have been nominated for Junior World Player-of-the-Year.
His performance against New Zealand in last Tuesday’s semi-final was sensational, but he believes there is more to come from England today.
“Against New Zealand we defended well, but we need to cut out the cheap penalties and could have used the ball better at times,” he said.
“We know Wales will be revved up. Even if it wasn’t a final it’s still England v Wales, and we beat them in the Six nations so they’ll want some payback.
“But we’ve got our own reasons for doing well. We didn’t do as well as we wanted last year in South Africa and as one of the boys who played in that, I spoke to a few lads pre-tournament about the need for us to kick-on this time around.
“The younger boys who’ve come in have absolutely smashed into it for us and we’ll now be remembered as the team that beat New Zealand. But we want to make history by being the first England team to win the Junior World Cup.”
Aside from the Cornish connection, victory for England today would provide another huge boost to Exeter who, in addition to Cowan-Dickie and Nowell, also have fly-half Henry Slade, centre Sam Hill and flanker Joel Conlon in the squad.
The point is not lost on Nowell, who added: “It’s a real credit to Exeter that we’re involved and having all the boys here makes us a tight group.
“Sladey’s out there pulling the strings, Sam’s just been a battering ram in midfield and Joel’s come in and done well when he’s had his chance.
“Devon and Cornwall is well represented, which is great news for the area, and hopefully we can dig deep, beat Wales and bring the Cup home.”
NEALE HARVEY

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