Mercer hopes to replicate football counterparts

Their success has gripped sports fans across the country and now Zach Mercer says England U20s are determined to follow the achievements of their footballing counterparts.

England Under 20s football side beat Venezuela on Sunday, to win the country's biggest international title since 1966.

It was England's first appearance in the final of a global tournament since their World Cup victory 51 years ago.

England’s rugby team face South Africa on Tuesday in the semi-final of the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Georgia (live on ITV4, kick-off 3pm BST).

They are aiming to defend their title and Mercer says the squad have been inspired by their footballing counterparts.

“Firstly I just want to say congratulations to the England U20 football team, we’ve been following their progress in their own World Cup and it’s a massive achievement for them,” said Mercer. “We want to replicate it now in our World Rugby U20 Championship…that’s the challenge for us.”

England are unbeaten in the tournament having recorded bonus-point victories over Samoa and Wales, before beating Australia in their final pool game.

Their last-four meeting with South Africa is a repeat of last year’s semi-final in Manchester and Mercer knows the side face a tough battle on Tuesday.

“Belief is a massive part of rugby and you are not going to go far if you don’t believe in yourself or the team,” he said.

“We also know that we now have a tough challenge against a strong South Africa outfit. We’re going to have to play some of our best rugby in attack and defence."

The Bath backrow-forward added: “We’ve talked all along about different steps and this is the fourth step of five. We just want to go out there now and show what we can do.”

Mercer will lead the side on Tuesday and described captaining England as a “massive honour”.

He was also quick to pay tribute to Ben Earl, Max Malins and Theo Brophy Clews who are also part of the leadership group with England U20s.

“It’s a massive honour to play for your country and to captain them is an even bigger honour,” he said.

“It’s important to remember though we have a leadership group and even though I have a C (captain) next to my name it doesn’t mean I make all of the decisions, it’s a collective effort. We have a lot of good leaders in this outfit and I think that’s what makes us such a good side.”