Oaklands College director of rugby expects ‘bigger and better’ things for England U20 duo

Nick Tompkins tries to shrug off a tackler in the World Rugby U20 Championship 2015 final in Italy.

Nick Tompkins tries to shrug off a tackler in the World Rugby U20 Championship 2015 final in Italy. Picture: World Rugby - Credit: Archant

Oaklands College director of rugby Dave Hesketh expects two of his former students, George Perkins and Nick Tompkins, to go on to bigger and better things following England’s loss in the World Rugby U20 Championship final.

Winger Perkins and centre Tompkins, both of whom play for Saracens, started for England, the defending champions, in Saturday’s 21-16 loss to New Zealand in Italy.

The former Oaklands Wolves scored one try each during England’s run to the final.

“I’m gutted for them,” said Hesketh. “They will be gutted at the moment but when they have digested it they will look back and see what they have achieved.”

Bigger things are on the horizon, though, according to their former coach.

“England U20, even a world championship final, is a step on the ladder. The next challenge for them is to break into the Saracens first team and kick on,” explained Hesketh.

“This will not be the pinnacle of their careers – I expect bigger and better things for both of them.”

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Hesketh said it was Tompkin’s energy and Perkins’ raw speed that first caught his eye but their desire to succeed that left a lasting impression.

“They were two very gifted and driven individuals. Both were unbelievably conscientious in terms of their development and how hard they wanted to work to improve and get the little things right,” he said.

“They do the things people don’t see. It’s easy to see performances on TV but very few know what goes on behind the scenes – the effort, commitment and sacrifices they make.”

The success of Perkins and Tompkins is a feather in Oaklands’ cap, and one Hesketh intends to utilise in getting the most out of his current crop of players.

“It creates a buzz at the college. Whenever players come through and kick on to that level, England or Saracens, it is inspirational for others. We use them as role models,” he said.