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Getting to know: England U20s scrum-half Charlie Bracken

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Liam Heagney)

There are numerous players at the Junior World Championship who hail from families with serious reputations at the top end of rugby. For instance, France have Posolo Tuilagi, who is the son of ex-Samoan international Henry, Australia have Teddy Wilson, the son of 1999 Rugby World Cup winner David, South Africa’s Jean Smith is the son of current Glasgow coach Franco, while England skipper Lewis Chessum is the younger brother of England Test forward Ollie.

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Another eye-catching family name within the England ranks is Bracken. It was 2003 when scrum-half Kyran was part of the Clive Woodwood squad that won the Rugby World Cup in Australia. Now, 20 years later in South Africa, his eldest son Charlie is striving for age-grade glory with their country’s U20s.

Their campaign has enjoyed a very promising start, the opening-round draw versus Ireland in Paarl getting followed by a convincing victory over Fiji in Stellenbosch that has left them firmly in the hunt for semi-final qualification when they take on the Junior Wallabies in their final pool match on Tuesday in Athlone.

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Bracken was the No9 starter against the Irish before coming off the bench versus the Fijians. RugbyPass met him at the England team hotel in downtown Cape Town for a series of quickfire questions where his answers referenced Owen Farrell, Drake and King Charles III:

THE BASICS
Born: December 9, 2003;
Joined England age-grade: U18s against Wales in Taunton;
Club: Saracens (senior academy contract);
Position: Scrum-half;
Boots: Any Nike boots;
Gumshield: Opro. England made it for us. Traditional.
Headgear: No;
School: St Albans School.

RATE YOURSELF (out of 100)
Pace: I’m not that quick, probably 70 I reckon;
Passing: Probably 80;
Tackling: I’ll go 75.

THE PAST
My favourite England player of all time is… I reckon Ben Youngs is quite a big one considering how he has done in his career and the number of caps he has got.

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Favourite try I have ever scored is… I scored one on my debut in the U18s game against Wales, so that was a good one. I ran a cheat line, got the ball on the inside and ran about 20 metres to score. It wasn’t fantastic but it felt amazing scoring.

A rugby memory that makes me smile is… Probably at school where we beat our rivals when we were the big underdogs. We were playing Haileybury and we came back against them and beat them which we don’t usually do, which was good.

The moment I realised I could make it is… My Prem Cup debut (versus Wasps in March 2022). I was still at school then. I was 18. That was a surreal experience. Having that taste of first-team rugby was great and that was when I realised.

One piece of advice I would give to my younger self is… Believe in yourself, be confident and believe in your ability.

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My best subject in school was… Geography. I am studying geography at uni now.

The first player who made me fall in love with rugby is… I’d give that one to my dad. Watching him over the years has probably inspired me the most.

Growing up, my position was… Scrum-half. Always been a scrum-half. Was always quite small as a child so scrum-half suited me. I have got two younger brothers who started off at scrum-half as well but my middle brother is now a full-back and the youngest is still a scrum-half.

The coach who has most impacted my game is… Jeremy Walmsley, my schools coach. He helped me a lot. Because I was captain of my school, he mentored me a lot.

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A post shared by Charlie Bracken (@charliebracken9)

THE PRESENT
My favourite rising rugby player is… There are so many. I think Jack van Poortvliet is doing really well, and he looks like a great prospect.

My best attributes on the field are… Passing, speed of ball.

One thing I’m doing to improve my education is… I’m at Loughborough Uni, studying geography. That has been great, so I am kind of part-time rugby, part-time uni which has meant that I can keep up my education whilst in the sport I love.

My favourite current England player isOwen Farrell because he is at Saracens. He is a great bloke and an amazing rugby player.

My favourite YouTuber is… I don’t really follow much but I’ll say KSI.

My hardest working teammate is… There are so many. I’d say Nathan Michelow from Saracens. I played with him a lot and he is really hard working and has worked really hard to get into the side.

My most skilful teammate is… I reckon Sam Harris. He is pretty skilful. Can kick off both feet, has a good pass.

My favourite training drill is… I like a good old 15 on 15, just a match-based scenario. Stuff like that.

My favourite music artist is… Drake.

THE FUTURE
A player who could go all the way is… Joseph Woodward.

If I could play with anyone, I would like to play with… Manu Tuilagi. He would be good for front-foot ball.

I will be happy with my career if I… Have a successful career at Saracens, play for a long time there and hopefully play for England one day.

I want to make a difference by… Not sure. Just being a really skilful scrum-half and using that aspect of my game to get as far as I can.

If I could get a degree in anything I would choose… I have got the geography so far so I’ll probably stick with that, but if I were to do another one I reckon law.

I would be a better player if I… Was a bit bigger, a bit stronger. That would help out a bit.

If I could play in any other country, I would play in… Australia.

One person I want to meet is… The King.

One trophy I would love to win is… The Premiership and I’d also love to win the U20s World Cup.

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