England’s World Cup warm-up campaign got underway today with their Quilter International against Wales at Twickenham.
Team announcements dominated pre-match build-up news. Eddie Jones chose to field an experimental English side against Warren Gatland’s experienced Welsh team.
Debutant Lewis Ludlam
Amongst Jones’ surprise line-up was Gloucester scrum-half Willi Heinz who was also awarded the vice-captain role on his debut. Jack Singleton and Joe Marchant featured for the first time on the bench whilst Lewis Ludlam also made the starting 15.
Originally, Ludlam wasn’t included in the starting line up but was promoted from the bench after vice-captain Sam Underhill was ruled out with a knee injury.
Ludlam immediately caught attention by showing a passionate recital of the national anthem with tears in his eyes. As a patriotic country, England takes pride in the devotion of their players during God Save the Queen, earning Ludlam some sure brownie points with the fans.
It didn’t take long for the debutant to get involved in the game being on the receiving end of Anscombe’s kick-off.
He continued to make himself a valuable presence during the game, putting in big hits around the park. Essentially turning himself from the England newbie to a well-known name amongst international rugby fans.
Time to vote for your @BollingerUK Fans #MOTM.
RT for @LewisLudlam… pic.twitter.com/HbaZLAbuIo
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) August 11, 2019
But where did England’s new flanker come from?
Lewis Wesley Ludlam was born in Ipswich on 8 December 1995 (23 years old). His playing career began after he was granted a scholarship to a renowned rugby school in Ipswich, St Joseph’s College.
He gained an impressive rugby portfolio whilst attending the school. He was part of the team that reached the Daily Mail Cup semi-finals at 15-years-old. From there, he also captained his side to victory at both the national school festival and Rosslyn Park national schools 7’s competition.
Early on, Ludlam also played for Ipswich Rugby club before joining London 1 North side Colchester RFC.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the centre-turned-flanker when he was dropped from Northampton Saints academy. He was later recalled to their Under 18s and then moved into their Senior Academy.
From this Ludlam earned his position in both England’s U18s and U20s respectively. He was also nominated as the country’s Player of the Tournament in the World Rugby U20 Championships in 2016.
Saints Academy has been responsible for producing many successful players. Ben Cohen, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, to name a few, have come through their ranks. Now Lewis Ludlam can add himself to the list of international representatives from the club.
The 23-year-old currently plays in the Gallagher Premiership for Northampton Saints and has made 43 appearances for the side since his first-team debut in the 2016/17 season.
What is next for Lewis Ludlam and England?
It is certain to say Ludlam made his impact on today’s fixture, along with his fellow debutants and teammates. His side came away with a 33-19 win and put an end to Wales’ 14-consecutive win streak.
The more experienced George Kruis replaced Ludlam in the 69th minute. Eddie Jones continued to prove the game was about experimenting and trialed different back row combinations.
Jones is set to make his World Cup squad announcement tomorrow (Monday 12 August). Four weeks ahead of World Rugby’s squad announcement deadline this is a sure statement from the head coach who shows faith in his England players.
The Australian born coach is known for making bold and brave choices when it comes to team selection. His 38-man training squad last month raised eyebrows.
But will Lewis Ludlam feature in this 31-man England squad? Today may have just secured his spot but even if he is to miss out this time, Ludlam has made his mark and will no doubt be definite to rack up international caps in the future.
Furthermore, after his most impressive season in Saints’ 2018/19 campaign with 27 appearances, four tries and now an international call-up, Ludlam can count on being a staple name on the team sheet for Northampton in the upcoming season.
Embed from Getty Images