Bath Rugby’s Tom Dunn pulled on an England jersey for the first time on Sunday 2 June as England reclaimed the Quilter Cup in a 51-43 thriller at Twickenham Stadium.
The hooker enjoyed 62 minutes on the famous hallowed turf at HQ as England overcame a second-half assault from a star-studded Barbarians side, and the 26-year-old was honoured to represent his country.
“I really enjoyed playing for England for the first time. It was a really great day for myself and my family. There are a lot of cliché of what you can say about playing for your country, but I am very proud and privileged to have represented my country.
“I felt a bit of relief to be honest, I have been in and out of the squad for training camps in the past, but I have never worn the shirt, so it was a really nice moment to sit back and really appreciate the opportunity.”
He said: “It was a really good camp. It was as intense as it needed to be, but it was very enjoyable. We focussed on getting to know each other and learn more about each other’s games.
"It was about us as a team and if we could gel together then we were going to beat the Baa-Baas, rather than our individual brilliance because that is what they are, so rather than trying to match them on that, we put in a really simple system and said to ourselves if we can execute this 90% of the time, then that will beat their excellence.
“It was such an amazing experience, you grow up watching the Barbarians, I think it fantastic that they are still going as a team and its brilliant that they get to play on the big stage.
“I thought that I performed well, and I was particularly happy with how the lineout went. My carrying and tackling was as it usually is, so I was really happy with my performance, it was solid.
“Collectively I was really impressed with some of the young lads like Marcus Smith, Joe Marchant, Alex Dombrandt. I thought they played a quality game and gave us a bit of X factor which allowed us to get over the gain line.
“Against a team like the Barbarians, if you keep the ball and break the gain line then they haven’t got the system or the structure to be able to defend against you so that gave us an advantage.
“It is always good to play against the likes of Richard Hibbard, John Afoa and Joe Marler, they are a very experienced, world class front row and I enjoyed that challenge.
Barbarians game plan
“The Barbarians tried to play at a high tempo, but I was really impressed with our defence, the line speed we set and the pressure we put on them allowed for mistakes and that led to England scoring tries. I think that was the main contributor to us getting the win on the day.
“They caught us off guard on a couple of occasions. We didn’t have time during the weeks build-up to iron out all of the cracks in our team performance, so you can expect that in games like this sometimes. I thought that the side gathered themselves really well after conceding fourteen points shortly after the break and that was a big moment in the game. We communicated well, made a plan and we came out on top.
“I didn’t feel that the game was slipping away from us at all, I felt that we were in control, we knew they would have their moments, we knew they would have moments of brilliance, so it was about how we reacted to that.
Playing with familiarity
“I really enjoyed playing alongside the Bath lads in an England jersey. Tom Ellis is a very close friend of mine and is my daughters godfather, and I have been through a lot with Ben Obano. From playing in the A League when we were younger and in the academy, we came through together, so it was a very special day and I am really happy to have shared it with them.
“I really enjoyed playing against Francois Louw, he likes to play a fast game, so it was nice to try and slow him down. I quite enjoyed trying to get under his skin, he is still world class at what he does, and he managed to get in a couple of jackals and a he even managed to get a try."