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Hunter, Launchbury and Ford reflect on JWC

28 June 2011

  • England U20 trio Hunter, Ford and Launchbruy talk to RFU.com
  • The lads gave it everything but a few things didn’t go our way – Ford
England U20 Head Coach Rob Hunter talks to his side after their JWC final defeat

Photo: Getty Images

England U20 Head Coach Rob Hunter has said that while the disappointment of losing the IRB Junior World Championship final has sunk in, the team’s achievements over the season should be admired.

England fell short in the final against New Zealand, succumbing to a 33-22 defeat in Italy, but Hunter’s men were always within touching distance of the Baby Blacks and came close to causing an upset.

 “It was a frustrating game against New Zealand because we could have won it,” Hunter said. “But we didn’t execute a few of our chances and that’s what has cost us.

“A lot of these players won’t get the chance to play for the 20s again, but they’ve been an excellent group to work with. There have been some notable successes along the way, and I have no doubt that we’ll see a few of these lads in England jerseys in the future.

“It’s sunk in that we aren’t the U20 World Champions, of course we’re still very disappointed but we’ve had a chance to reflect on what was an outstanding season for the lads – a 6 Nations Grand Slam and a Junior World Championship final is an outstanding effort.

“What’s important now is that the lads who are with us next season use their experiences from this season to bring on the lads who will be coming through.”

England U20 fly half George Ford action against the Kiwis

Photo: Getty Images

One of those players who will be available to play next season is fly half George Ford. The 18-year-old was the youngest player in the competition, but his performances on the world stage defied his age, averaging 10.2 points across the five games. The young Tigers No. 10 summed up the mood in the camp:

“We’re gutted to be honest. The lads gave it everything but a few things didn’t go our way at crucial times and we have to live with that. We played well on the day, but they won and they’re champions - it's as simple as that.

“The lads have taken so much from the tournament though, and there’s no doubt that we’ll come out better players because of it. A lot of this squad are moving on, but it’s been awesome playing with them over the past few years.

“The likes of Alex Gray and Mako Vunipola has been the heartbeat of the team and we’ll miss them, but there are some very good players coming through so we’ll do our best to go one better and win it next year. “

London Wasps lock Joe Launchbury won’t get the chance to compete next season due to his age, but the imperious lock enjoyed a highly impressive tournament and took the accolade of being England players’ player of the tournament, an award he’s incredibly grateful for.

England U20 lock Joe Launchbury (L) in action against the Kiwis

Photo: Getty Images

“To be named players’ player of the tournament means a lot,” he said. “Particularly as it was chosen by my teammates, it’s something I’m really proud of, but it could have gone to any one of the lads – everybody played their part and gave their all, it’s just a shame that it wasn’t quite enough."

Talking about the game, Launchbury says key decisions going against England were ultimately what cost them a maiden JWC victory:

 “I think frustration sums up how we’re feeling, all of the boys are upset with the result but we pushed them very hard, some things didn’t go our way, and unfortunately the result was one of those things.

“We gave it our best shot, but they’re a class side with quality throughout their squad, but we came here to win, so obviously we’re massively disappointed."