Vass proud of England U20 'fight and spirit'

England U20 head coach Ian Vass says his side showed tremendous fight and spirit in the second half of their World Rugby U20 Championship final loss to New Zealand.

England trailed 40-7 at the break, and scored two second half tries through replacement scrum-half Alex Mitchell and Josh Bayliss, however their southern hemisphere counterparts proved too strong.

“The way we fought back in the second half shows the fight and the spirit in the team that we have displayed the whole tournament,” said Vass.

“You are not defined by winning or losing and we are massively proud of their efforts over the past three weeks and the whole season.”

England had defied the odds to reach their fifth successive World Rugby U20 Championship final, as heading into the tournament, they had five members of the U20 Elite Performance Squad called into the senior set up for the two-Test tour of Argentina.

And Vass believes the experience of this year’s tournament will help shape the future of the squad.

“This group have developed and learnt so much over the past three weeks and the experience of facing these big southern hemisphere teams can only put them in good stead for next year,” he said.

'They came out too strong'

England secured bonus-point victories over Samoa and Wales in their first two matches before beating Australia in a tense final pool game. A late Zach Mercer try in the last four then secured their place in Sunday's final.

“We had to play a lot of tight games and I think that took its toll in the end,” Vass added.

“The physical attributes of New Zealand meant they just kept coming and unfortunately we weren’t able to stick with them to make it the tight game that we wanted.

“We are a fit team so we needed to try and get New Zealand into the second half still in touch but unfortunately they came out too strong.”