Nick Walshe: Yes, England U20s have talent to win this year

Jack CliffordEngland U20s head coach Nick Walshe has backed his side to create history by landing their first IRB Junior World Championship trophy.
Three times England have reached the final of the competition since its inauguration in 2008, only to be beaten by New Zealand on each occasion.
The closest they came to winning was in Italy two years ago, when an U20s side containing stars such as Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola, Christian Wade and Matt Kvesic came agonisingly close to defeating the Junior All Blacks before succumbing 33-22 – after the TMO ruled out a seemingly good Kvesic try.
Walshe feels they can go all the way, although first they must navigate a tricky Pool containing hosts France, whom they meet on Wednesday, holders South Africa and USA, with only the Pool winners guaranteed a semi-final berth.
“It’s a tough start – a huge start – but it’s one of those situations where you think, ‘That’s not a bad thing,” Walshe told The Rugby Paper.
“We’ve had a good camp and won our warm-up match convincingly (against a Premiership Academy XV), so we know we can go in with our best team and see where that takes us. We can go strong into France and South Africa and say to the guys, ‘these are massive games so deal with it.’
“France on their own patch will be different to facing France in England. There’ll be a big crowd and the French love beating the English. But we’ve just got to focus on ourselves and not think too much about what we did to them in the Six Nations.”
England defeated France 40-10 at Worcester in February, before going on to clinch the Six Nations title against Wales in Colwyn Bay.
Walshe is happy with the strength of his squad, a number of whom have solid Premiership experience behind them, and wants the likes of Jack Nowell (Exeter), Ollie Devoto (Bath) and Jack Clifford (Harlequins) to lay down markers.
“We’re trying to build players to be in Stuart Lancaster’s squad, so we want guys to put their hands up for inclusion in the EPS,” Walshe explained.
“Last year, we had guys like Matt Kvesic, Marland Yarde, Billy Vunipola, Dan Robson and Elliott Daly, who went on to become regulars with their club sides and are now knocking on the door of selection for the senior team.
“The year before that, there were the likes of Joe Launchbury and Owen Farrell, who is now on a Lions tour, so we want the current group to follow in the footsteps of those lads and put themselves into contention as well.
“Development is the biggest part of my job, but as you move into a Junior World Cup the focus goes more towards performance.
“Do I think we can win it? I believe so. In fact, I’d say any of the top six or eight sides could win it.
“You’ve got to believe in your players and what you’re doing. But believing and doing it is a different thing.
“It’s the standard of performance we’re looking for and we want to come away from this tournament having done the best we can.”
England U20s squad:
Forwards: Dom Barrow (Leeds), Jack Clifford (Harlequins, capt), Joel Conlon (Exeter), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), Matt Hankin (Saracens), Alec Hepburn (Wasps), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester), Nathan Morris (Wasps), Tom Price (Leicester), David Sisi (London Irish), Tom Smallbone (London Irish), Scott Spurling (Saracens), Elliott Stooke (Gloucester), Harry Wells (Leicester), Scott Wilson (Newcastle)
Backs: Callum Braley (Bristol), Alex Day (Northampton), Ollie Devoto (Bath), Sam Hill (Exeter), Will Hooley (Northampton), Ben Howard (Worcester), Henry Purdy (Leicester), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Henry Slade (Exeter), Harry Sloan (Harlequins), Tom Stephenson (Northampton), Anthony Watson (London Irish)
France v England – Tonight 5.45pm BST
South Africa v England – June 9, 3.45pm BST
England v USA – June 13, 5.45pm BST
Semi-finals – June 18
Final – June 23

One Comment

  1. Perspective Joe

    “after the TMO ruled out a seemingly good Kvesic try”
    And yet cancelled out with the missed ruling of Christian Wade’s foot clearly crossing the touchline for his first try.
    Let’s keep an even hand on this ‘journalism’ thing shall we 😉

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