Bright future for England under-20s after first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2011

Charlie Wood
England's U-20s beat Ireland 14-10 on Friday night - 2017 Getty Images

Coaches Ian Vass, Louis Deacon and Tom Williams were celebrating on Saturday after getting England’s triple Grand Slams successfully under way after the under-20s clinched their first clean sweep in the Six Nations since 2011 with a 14-10 victory in Dublin.

Vass said on Saturday that he was confident that several would go to on to play for the senior side. Potential stars of the future include fly-half Max Malins and winger Joe Cokanasiga. Malins, whose 24-point haul in the game against France instigated England’s success, is also studying for a business and finance degree.

The 20-year-old fly-half will be aiming to emulate George Ford, the current England senior side’s No 10 who won the Grand Slam with the under-20s in 2011. Cokanasiga, meanwhile, scored England’s opening try of the tournament. Also worth watching are flankers and identical twins Tom and Ben Curry. Ben won two consecutive man-of-the-match awards against Italy and France, while Tom is Sale Sharks’ youngestPremiership try-scorer to date.

Were they to feature for the senior England side together, they would be the first pair of identical twins to do so. Although Vass described the Grand Slam as “definitely up there” with his best achievements as a coach, he insisted that the under-20s are a “largely self-governing” group, self-aware enough to recognise both their strengths and their weaknesses.

England Under-20s win Six Nations Grand Slam - meet the future stars

Vass admitted that the Ireland game was a “tough watch”, and that England “weren’t tactically good enough”, particularly in attack. But he argued that whatever their shortcomings against an impressive Irish side, their team ethos won out in tough conditions, under sustained physical and mental pressure.

The true value in the under-20s’ success on Friday, then, is the fact that, when any of the players are faced with the same big-game pressure again as senior internationals, they will be highly well disposed to cope, and indeed to thrive. With this in mind – and with talents such as Malins and Cokanasiga waiting in the wings – there is every reason to be excited about England’s fledglings.

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