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Clifford to come face-to-face with former teammate at JWC

12 June 2013

  • USA "won't be a walkover" says captain Jack Clifford
  • "Lessons learnt" from South Africa defeat
Jack Clifford

Photo: Getty Images

Despite England’s agonising defeat against South Africa in the IRB Junior World Championship last week, captain Jack Clifford is adamant his team are not out of the competition just yet.

After a promising start to their campaign, beating France 30-6 on their home turf, Clifford believes his side learnt some valuable lessons from their Group A clash against the Baby Boks, where they went 21 points down in the first 25 minutes.

He said: “There’s obviously a lot of disappointment. The first 15 minutes really took their toll, but from then on the boys really came together and we showed what we’re like as a team.

“Ill discipline really let us down [at first] and gave them the head start we really didn’t need them to have. I think we learnt from it and gave away fewer penalties towards the end. We put our game on the pitch from 65 minutes onwards and it showed.

“To go from that many points down to within a score shows we can beat anyone. But unfortunately the first 15 minutes meant they were too far ahead for us to come back.”

England’s final group game is against the lesser-fancied USA. And while they may have had a tough start with matches against the more established France and USA, Clifford is quick to inisist they won’t be easy opponents.

“They won’t be a walkover,” he said. They’re pretty unknown; we haven’t seen any of their games but we’re going to take what we can from the analysis from the France and South Africa games. We’re just going to focus on ourselves and take it to them.”

Although the team may be something of an unknown quantity; Clifford certainly knows a lot about one USA opponent, captain Tom Bliss, after spending many years on the same team at Cobham RFC.

He says: "I've known Tom for a few years now and we're quite good friends, so it'll be interesting coming up against him and not playing on the same side for once.

England play the USA tomorrow (June 13) at Stade Henri Desgrange, La Roche-sur-Yon.