FORMER Bournemouth Rugby Club junior Charlie Ewels was part of the England under-20s side that retained the World Junior Championship on Friday.
The 18-year-old second-rower played the full 80 minutes as Nick Walshe’s men saw off South Africa in a 21-20 thriller in Auckland.
Having taken up rugby aged seven, Ewels captained Bournemouth from under-nine to under-16 level and also played for Dorset & Wilts under-14s and under-16s.
The former Bournemouth School pupil joined Bath academy at 15 and represented England at under-16 and under-18 level, before graduating to the 20s.
The likes of Owen Farrell and George Ford came through the under-20s side before going on to become full internationals and Ewels will have done his hopes of progression no harm at all following victory over the Junior Boks.
The 6ft 6in, 17-stone powerhouse was required to put in his fair share of hits in a rollercoaster encounter in Eden Park as England found their third final in four years anything but easy.
After both sides kicked penalties early on, Jesse Kriel collected an Handre Pollard chip to score the first try of the game for South Africa.
Pollard made it 10-3 by adding the extras, only for Aaron Morris to reduce the arrears with a long-distance penalty in the lead-up to the interval.
Walshe’s men forged ahead with the clock ticking down as Nick Tompkins broke from midfield before Nathan Earle charged in to score.
England led 11-10 at the break and following the resumption, further penalties from Billy Burns and Pollard kept matters close.
However, Exeter back-rower Joel Conlon then forced his way over from the back of a driving maul and Burns converted to put England eight points clear.
The Baby Boks set up a nerve-jangling finale when Kriel scored his second try following a terrific move, with Pollard reducing the arrears further.
But England and Ewels held on to triumph thanks to solid defence in the closing stages.