TWO Shiplake College students, one present and one former, represented England in youth team internationals on Saturday.
Fili Savou, a current Year 11 pupil, took to the field to make his England U17 debut against France.
Initially named on the bench, Savou was thrust into the action after just 15 minutes, coming on at outside centre where he made an instant impact, holding off several tackles to score with his very first touch.
Savou said: “As soon as I got the ball I knew it was try time. It was an unbelievable feeling to score in the biggest game of my life, I was absolutely buzzing for the rest of the match.”
The second half proved to be much more difficult for England, as the French came back strongly. Going into the last few minutes, England trailed 25-22.
At this point, normal tactics went out the window and desperation kicked in.
Savou added: “We were supposed to run patterns but at that stage we could not afford to take any risks. Every single player on our team was smashing the ball up the middle. We worked together brilliantly as a team and fought for each other.”
Numerous short bursts gradually made up the required ground and eventually the blind side flanker powered the ball over the line with just 30 seconds left on the clock to give England a 29-25 win.
Savou, who also plays for Saracens Academy, is now looking forward to moving up to the U18 national side next season. The highlight will be the junior version of the six nations championships which takes place in Italy next summer.
The second fixture at Broadstreet RFC in Coventry also saw London Wasps winger Tom Howe, who left Shiplake College last year, continue his own fledgling international career lining up for England U19s also against France.
This match proved to be a much more comfortable affair for England, who romped home to record an emphatic victory.
In March, Howe scored on his Aviva Premiership debut for Wasps against Saracens.