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New series shows England ‘fighting for each other’ in U20 Championship quest

By Martyn Thomas
Bath , United Kingdom - 8 March 2024; Nathan Michelow of England celebrates a penalty during the U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship match between England and Ireland at The Recreation Ground in Bath, England. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

England return to the scene of their 2023 World Rugby U20 Championship heartbreak on Saturday and fans are being offered an access all areas pass to their preparations on RugbyPass TV.

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Embedded, a new five-part documentary, lifts the lid on the squad and how they are using the disappointment of last year’s tournament to drive them on to greater success in their quest for a fourth world title.

Mark Mapletoft’s side paid for indiscipline 11 months ago as eventual champions France ruthlessly capitalised on Finn Carnduff’s second-half yellow card to run out 52-31 winners in Cape Town.

WATCH EMBEDDED EPISODE ONE HERE

England lost the third-place play-off at the same venue, against hosts South Africa, but under flanker Carnduff’s captaincy they have enjoyed a brilliant 2024 so far, sweeping all before them in the U20 Six Nations to claim the Grand Slam.

That victory ensured they boarded their flight to South Africa with belief they can become the first English team to win the U20 Championship since 2016, and you can go behind the scenes of their campaign with the new RugbyPass TV series Embedded.

The first episode of the five-part documentary was released on Wednesday and follows the England squad as they finalise their preparations for their opening match.

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Speaking about last year’s semi-final defeat to Les Bleuets, number eight Nathan Michelow admitted the players “just had to process the loss, almost lick our wounds and move on”.

“We definitely learned a lot about ourselves, about how important our prep is, how mentally you need to be fully in the moment rather than focusing too much on what’s going on before and after,” he added.

“Recently, it’s like everyone wants to play for each other here and it really helps us play a lot better having that connection off the pitch.

“Throughout the Six Nations, how we were as a group was the most important. I think it will be the same in this tournament, it’s gonna have to be about fighting for each other.”

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Loosehead prop Asher Opoku-Fordjour echoed that sentiment as he looked ahead to the opening match against Los Pumitas.

“You need to win your first game so there’s a lot of pressure on us to go and do that,” the Sale Sharks player said. “But I feel like this team, we soak up pressure and we love it.

“Each week is a new match, so that repeat cycle of working towards trying to beat someone else, I just love that feeling.”

Opoku-Fordjour added: “We’ve grown as a group and a brotherhood. We’re getting closer and closer, and that’s what you need to win rugby games.”

The first episode of Embedded is available to stream for free on RugbyPass TV now. New episodes will be available every Wednesday for the next four weeks.

Watch the World Rugby U20s Championship live and for free on RugbyPass TV. Register here now
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