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Young Gun: Stuart Townsend – Exeter and England U18 scrum-half

 Stuart TownsendStuart Townsend’s choice of scrum-half idol tells you everything you need to know about his style of play.

The 17-year-old readily admits he has moulded his game on England first choice Ben Youngs and that mindset was on full display as he helped England U18s win the FIRA- AER title last weekend.

A running nine, as well as a passer, Townsend showed his sniping skills with a try off the bench in the first game of the tournament against Portugal before starting the semi-final and final where England overcame home side France 27-22 to retain their title.

He said: “The European Championship has been a great experience and I feel pretty lucky to have got the opportunity with England.

“There was a lot of running rugby which suits my style of play. In terms of my game I look at someone like Ben Youngs and try to do the same.

“As a scrum-half you have to be a good passer, but I enjoy running as well, and attacking off the base of the breakdown.

“There are obviously parts of my game I still need to work on, I’ve been focusing quite a lot on my kicking, it’s a big part of the game so you can’t just ignore it.

“It’s good at Exeter though, I’ve had a few opportunities and even got a chance to play for them in the LV Cup this season.

“It was just a couple of minutes against London Welsh but it was still great to get that opportunity when I’m still very young.”

The latest offering from the Ivybridge production line, Townsend will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Steffon Armitage, Stuart Hooper and Chris Bell.

England Saxon Ben Spencer is another Ivybridge alumnus but took the unusual route of leaving Exeter’s academy to go to play for Cambridge.

While he was with the Blood & Sand, Spencer learned his trade under Bob Crooks, and Crooks   is now overseeing Townsend’s development in Devon.

Townsend added:   “I’ve been at Ivybridge since Year 11 but this year Bob Crooks has come in and made an impression.

“He has a fresh take on things and has had a massive impact on my game and the team in general.

“It’s a great place to learn as a young rugby player, and I had Charlie Hewitt, a mate from school, out at the European Championships with me.

“I divide my time between Ivybridge and Exeter but at the moment I tend to spend more time in Ivybridge.

“I originally started out at Kingsbridge, and with a couple of brothers who played rugby it was always going to be the sport for me.

“It’s given me some good opportunities, and I have the advantage of having played with England in the 16s and 17s as well.

“I knew  (England U18s coach) John Fletcher back from when I was first on the fringes of the England squad so it’s great to have worked all the way through with him.

“This year I also got the opportunity to play in the new U18s league with the Chiefs.

“I’m hoping that next year I will be able to push on and get more involved at a higher level.  The target would be to play quite a lot of A-League rugby.”

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