- World Rugby U20 Championship launches in Georgia
- England face Samoa on Wednesday, 31 May - (10am KO BST)
If you’re lucky enough to spend time with England’s Under 20 squad, one thing will stand out – Ollie Dawe’s booming voice.
Not only is he England’s joker in the pack, he is also their rock. An ever-present during the Grand Slam success and vital part of a forward unit who hope to retain the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in June. He is as big a presence off the pitch as he is on it.
And as he explains in his own unique fashion it is clear in rugby he has found the perfect sport to express himself.
“I love the physicality, releasing that energy, aggression and being part of a team,” says Dawe. “I just wanted to run around like a lunatic and enjoy myself. It was great fun.”
He finds himself at Bristol Rugby’s academy having taken an unconventional route to get there and his determination to succeed after an early setback speaks volumes of his desire to be a success in the sport that has already given him so much.
“It was hard being released by Exeter,” he explains.
“But being released, getting knocked down but then recovering from it was massive for me and hopefully if I have any setbacks later in my career I can always refer back to that time.”
'It was the best thing that happened to me'
After being released by Exeter he played in National One for Plymouth Albion, making 22 appearances in 2015/16. It gave him a solid grounding and some much needed game time.
“It was the best thing that happened to me,” he added.
His performances did not go unnoticed and Bristol came calling, which is where he finds himself now.
For the time being though his attentions are on the World Rugby U20 Championship, with England opening their defence against Samoa on Wednesday 31 May.
The passion which Dawe shows when explaining what it means to him to represent England is infectious."I get quite emotional singing the national anthem."
Having represented England at U17 and U18 level. He started every match in the U20 Grand Slam this year and has been on the winning side nine times in 10 games overall when wearing the red rose shirt.
“It was a massive honour making my England debut, a huge sense of pride,” he said. “I remember thinking wow, after all the hard work I’ve put in to finally put on the shirt is amazing.
“I get quite emotional singing the national anthem, I just burst it out.”
So what does he think England can achieve in Georgia? The emotion turns to focus: “We’ll take it game by game, concentrate on that first game against Samoa,” he explains. “They boys have got a good focus and if we take it game by game we’ll be okay.”
Leading those ‘boys’ from the front will be Dawe, England Under 20s very own prop idol.