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'South Africa experience will benefit Academy duo' - Hall

Academy manager Mike Hall has praised the performance and progress of young forwards Tom Rowland and Will Capon, after the pair put in standout performances during England U18’s tour of South Africa this summer.

Junior academy prop, Rowland and U18 hooker, Capon featured in all three tour fixtures against Wales, France and South Africa Schools during August, with Capon scoring three tries on the tour – and Hall says the experience will play a huge part in their development.

“For young forwards like Tom and Will, going to the Southern Hemisphere and testing themselves against top level opposition is a wonderful development opportunity,” he said.

“The three games posed different challenges, which they had to adapt to – and did so extremely well. The feedback from the England U18 coaches has been extremely positive about their contributions on and off the field.

“Will, being an U17, will obviously have the opportunity to build upon this with another year in the England U18 setup, while Tom will now take his learning into the senior rugby environment.”

Tom Rowland in Bristol colours (JMP UK).
Will Capon in action (JMP UK).

In the tour opener, Capon's first half try helped England U18s to a winning start with a 24-8 victory over France in Stellenbosch. England led 19-3 at the break through tries from Will Porter, Capon and Cadan Murley along with two Kieran Wilkinson conversions in a clinical first half of rugby by John Fletcher’s side. France responded shortly after the break with a try from Mathis Lebel but Murley’s second late on sealed victory.

Three days later, Capon scored twice off the bench – and Rowland also featured as a second half substitute - but it wasn’t enough to stop England U18 from slipping to a 14-12 defeat to Wales at Paarl Gymnasium.

But the pair returned to the starting line-up for the final fixture, as England U18s ended their summer development tour with a 52-22 victory over South Africa Schools.