- England face Australia in final pool game on Thursday
- England U20 top pool with two bonus-point victories
Ben Earl will never forget the best piece of advice given to him by Schalk Burger: ‘Give 100% on the field but when you come off it be a rounded person as well’.
It’s advice that has stuck with him. Earl, who studies comparative literature at Queen Mary University, is as devoted off the pitch as he is dedicated on it.
The England U20 forward, who has helped form a formidable backrow at the World Rugby U20 Championship so far, is calm and considered off the pitch, but ferocious on it.
And he is determined to help England defend their title and continue the U20s fine record in the competition.
“England have got a proud history in this competition but we want to create our own legacy,” said Earl.
Keeping the faith
Earl, who is a member of the Saracens academy, began his rugby career at Sevenoaks RFC. He swam at national level and played cricket for Kent at U14 and U15 levels and has represented England at U16, U17, U18 and U20s and also captained the side twice during the Six Nations earlier this year.
He is lucky enough to have been able to call on the advice of Springboks legend Burger, as well as the likes of England duo Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell at Saracens.
And Earl is determined to follow Burger’s words of wisdom. While you may see many players occupied by a multitude of screens off the pitch, Earl is more likely to be found with his head buried in a book.
“I read a lot before games and on away trips,” he explains. “For me it’s a really good way of taking your mind off a game and calming you down. I read the bible a lot, I’m very religious. I go to church quite a lot, I find it very relaxing, it’s different to being in an intense environment.”
A sense of pride
Earl bursts with pride when talking about two things – playing for England and his family. Of his England debut he recalls: “It’s pretty special, surreal and it motivates you to want it a bit more.”
Earl adds: “There is a sense of pride of what you have achieved, but you have to remember you are playing a game and you need to switch on. Enjoy it but don’t regret anything. I just go out there with the attitude that the shirt is never yours so you always have something to prove.”
He is also quick to pay tribute to his family for the part they have played in his rugby journey.
“My family have been massively influential on my career,” said Earl.
“Living in deep Kent is far from ideal so they’ve had to drive me a fair few miles and motivate me on some early mornings. Without them I wouldn’t be half as motivated or successful as I have been.”"If we perform well, both off the pitch as well as on it, the results will take care of themselves."
England have so far recorded bonus-point victories in Georgia, defeating Samoa and Wales.
They take on Australia in their final pool game and Earl is in no doubt what he wants to achieve in Georgia and what England have to do to get there.
“We are here to win, but that is the end product of a long journey we have been on since October,” he says.
“If we perform well, both off the pitch as well as on it, the results will take care of themselves.”