- Two England teams unbeaten at Wellington International Festival
- Head Coach Wareham praises mental toughness
England South Under 16s brought down the curtain on a successful BMW Wellington International Festival in Berkshire by maintaining their unbeaten record with a 32-25 win over a tenacious United States Under 17s this afternoon.
It followed up a draw with France Under 16s A in their opening match and a victory over Scotland Under 16s and meant that both England teams went through the tournament unbeaten after England North Under 16s won all three of their matches.
England South required tries from full back Will Sutton (Caistor GS, Lincoln RFC and NLD), wings Paolo Odogwu (KES Birmingham, Walsall RFC and Staffordshire) and Joe Lewis (Wellington School, Wellington RFC and Somerset), centre George Worth (Wymondham College and Eastern Counties) and replacement hooker Morgan Bottrill (Tewkesbury School, Coney Hill RFC and Gloucestershire) to subdue a raw but powerful United States team.
“It’s a fantastic, I’m really proud of them and England North have gone through the week unbeaten as well,” said England South Head Coach Richard Wareham.
“It’s been a character-building week as well. They have not just turned up and played a bit of rugby, they have had to dig deep and they have had to work hard. It stands them in good stead for the future.
“We work on skills a lot but we also work on mental skills because sometimes things do go wrong and it’s how you get yourself out of those situations that’s going to be important.
“We work on being positive. they are good players who will make the right decisions more often than they make the wrong ones. We keep going back to that belief and keep trusting in ourselves that we will come through and we did.”
England South required that self-belief again in their final match after United States fly half Brendan Cleary cancelled out Sutton’s excellent opening try with a superb individual effort that full back Cian Barry improved.
Fly half Owen Waters (Kingswood School, Chippenham RFC and Dorset & Wilts) regained the lead for England South with a penalty and Odogwu then rounded off a sustained attack with a well-taken try.
A penalty from Barry pulled the United States to within three points but Lewis, who was promoted from the England North side, marked his first appearance for the South by slipping a couple of tackles and snaking over for a well-taken try.
The United States responded with an unconverted try from flanker Joeli Tikoisuva just before half time and reduced the deficit to two points with Barry’s second penalty.
Tries from Worth and Bottrill gave put England two converted tries clear but the United States ensured another tense finale in a festival of close finishes when flanker Hanco Germishuys powered over and Barry added the conversion.
“We managed our disappointments. We let them have some soft scores where people went through unopposed which you don’t want to happen but we kept coming back and staying ahead and putting pressure on,” Wareham said. “They showed some good mental skills and some real toughness.
“We had seven days contacts with the boys before this festival but we they have done really well. their path has been upward.
“They have to learn to live with each other which will help for the future, playing in World Cups and going away on tour, and their growth as people has been fantastic and that is what has dug us out of shallow holes at times.
“It has been a privilege to work them and to help facilitate everything they have been able to do.”