Haag praises England Under 20 resilience

  • England fight back from first-minute try to seal victory
  • Advance through to the semi-finals as top seed 

England Under 20 coach Martin Haag hailed his side’s resilience to come from behind to seal a semi-final spot at the World Rugby U20 Championship.

Haag’s side conceded a try inside the opening minute but eventually fought back to book a last four spot against South Africa.

“We came here tonight aiming to make it three from three and we’ve done that, I’m delighted for the players," said Haag. 

“The performance however was not where we wanted it to be, fair play to Australia, I thought they were superb but we must be better if we are going to progress in this tournament.

“We showed great resilience which is something we have worked on. We went into half-time behind, but there was no panic in the dressing room, the leaders spoke and we knew what we needed to do. It was always going to be tough against Australia, they are a great team.”


England will now turn their attention to South Africa and Haag says his side will have to improve ahead of what he feels will be a “physical” battle against the young Springboks.

“We move onto the next game now and need to improve aspects of our play,” he said.

“The guys have come together in a short space of time and are starting to show their identity. If we become more clinical and hold onto the ball better then we have the potential to be a dangerous side.

“South Africa are going to be physical and well drilled. We’ll keep the focus on ourselves, we’ll concentrate on ensuring there is a step up in our performance and will also need to go through the right recovery processes to be ready for Monday.”


Flanker George Nott was playing on his club ground and described the occasion as “perfect”, adding: “There is nowhere I’d rather play than for England at the stadium where I play my club rugby. It was really nice to see so many Sale shirts in the crowd today.”

Nott described the match as “tough and physical” but praised the character of his team mates.

“The boys are so chuffed to get the win and make it three from three,” he said. “Credit to the lads for coming from behind and sticking at it, right until the end.

“It was a close game which made it tense but I never had any doubt we would win. We train at high-intensity to ensure we are an 80 minute team and will play right until the end."


Nott also says the performance and the nature of the game will help them during the knockout stages of the competition.

“I’m really looking forward to playing South Africa, they are a big set of lads so tonight’s physical game will have helped prepare us. 

He added: “We’ve shown in the last few games that we are a multi-dimensional team and have many attacking threats and a strong defence. We’ve only conceded two tries and I think as a result we are becoming the side to beat.”