‘Amazing trip; I learned how to tour with a senior men’s team’


Charlie Ewels can’t wait to finally play in an England shirt after a two-year wait. The Bath lock was red carded just 82 seconds into his country’s Guinness Six Nations loss to Ireland in March 2022 and an ACL injury on the Australian tour that summer left him playing catch-up to make the following year’s Rugby World Cup squad.

The 28-year-old even hooked up with the Currie Cup Bulls in April to get game time in South Africa that he wasn’t in a position to get with the Gallagher Premiership season at Bath reaching its conclusion.

That comeback was followed by inclusion in the wider England training squad for France 2023 but he missed out on the 41-strong full squad named in July to prepare for the tournament, and he was also surplus to requirement when Steve Borthwick originally named his selection for the 2024 Six Nations.

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A Girona training camp illness suffered by Nick Isiekwe resulted in a belated Ewels recall last month.

Then, having spent two days at the start of this week training with the England first team squad at Pennyhill ahead of their ill-fated trip to Scotland, he was released on Tuesday night to George Skivington’s A squad and will now skipper the side in Sunday’s clash with Portugal in Leicester.

“It is, yeah,” said Ewels when asked how big a deal it would be for him to lead England A out at Mattioli Woods Welford Road. “It will be the first time I played in an England shirt since February ’22, so massively looking forward to it; it’s always an honour to play in an England shirt.”

Having come through the England age-grade system and been part of the U20s that clinched 2014 World Cup final glory in Auckland against South Africa, Ewels was involved in the last game his country played at A level, the Saxons’ 2016 tour win over South Africa A in George.

That success helped to put the forward on track for a career that has so far garnered 30 Test caps and he will hope that another run-out with the As eight years after they last played will help to keep him in the first-team squad mix in a year where Borthwick’s charges have a summer tour featuring games against Japan and New Zealand (two).

“Really fond memories,” said Ewels, looking back on his 2016 South African adventure and explaining the importance of these A-level games.

“It was an amazing trip, an amazing tour. I learned how to tour with a senior men’s team, I learned how to play with guys that were a lot older than me, which I hadn’t really done.

“I had played at the club but I hadn’t really done anything like that in an England shirt. Before that, it was always with lads my age in either 20s or 18s.

“I learned what that environment looked like. You become very conditioned to your club environment, club coaches and you know what is expected and know how you are going to be coached and how you are going to play.

“So to actually go and test yourself as a rugby player: can I take my transferrable skills into this new environment where we might play slightly differently or we might do stuff that we are not quite used to; can I take the fundamentals of my game around my tackle, my carry, my set-piece, can I take them and show what I can do these things in this new team?”





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