There is no doubt scoring for your country would a special feeling. To do it in front of your family would be even sweeter.
After a long time away from the stands, Nahum Merigan’s family were in attendance and watched him excel with three tries in his last two starts.
“It’s been a tough year with covid and everything so to have my family there for my three tries was a big thing for me,” the Bath Rugby Senior Academy Number 8 said.
“I was very fortunate to have them there; they’ve been massive for me.
"My mum has played a massive part for me on my journey. When I was young, she’d take me here, there and everywhere… early starts on Sunday mornings in rubbish conditions was not ideal! My stepdad used to be my coach and guided me from when I was around 12 or 13 as he was a Number 8 himself. We’d have conversations and I’d pick up little things from what he’s said to me.
“It was the first time my grandparents have seen me play since January 2019, so it’s been an awfully long time. My grandad has been someone very much in my corner. Whether or not he knew much about rugby to start with being a big football and Formula 1 fan, he has grown into becoming a Bath and rugby fan now!
“I will hold those memories close to my heart. It’s been very special and now we can now start to see the end of the lockdown so hopefully I can have them at more games.”
His family will once again be in the stands as Merigan starts England’s final match of the 2021 U20 Six Nations alongside Bath teammates Ewan Richards and Orlando Bailey, with Tom Carr-Smith named among the replacements.
A win over Italy would secure the tournament title and a first Grand Slam since 2017, something that is an aim for the back rower.
“It’s been a different Six Nations,” he said. “We’ve all been together over a four or five-week period with six-day turnarounds, so it’s been challenging but it has been really enjoyable.
“It’s been massively beneficial for me having a lot of Bath lads around me, with them knowing what my strengths and weaknesses are as a player and as an individual. They’ve been able to keep me in check a little bit and say, ‘get your head down, do what you’re good at; get your hands on the ball early’ and then grow myself into the game whether I’m starting or on the bench.”
Merigan continued: “We’ve put a big emphasis on it not being a walkover; Italy are a good outfit. They’ve put in some really good performances through the Six Nations and we know we have a tough game on our hands.
“We’ve built a confidence in camp that we can do our stuff, score tries, defend whatever is chucked at us and hopefully come out of it with a trophy and a Grand Slam.
"As a group we want to leave a marker down as an U20 team that we have won the Grand Slam, performed well, played as a team and got bonus points in every game.”
Five weeks away on international duty has seen Merigan produce some excellent rugby following a year limited minutes due to Covid-19 and the cancellation of the Premiership Rugby Shield and Premiership Rugby Cup.
If there is one thing he will take away from his experience with England, it is to not take playing the sport which he holds dear to his heart for granted again.
“I won’t take anything for granted in terms of game time. I’ve not been able to have much game time this year so to get the opportunity in these past five games has been massive.
“I’ve actually learnt a lot about myself as a player and a character in terms of what I need to do to prepare myself, how I approach a game and how I feel in a game.
"I feel like I’ve got a lot of confidence going into the off-season and hopefully I’ll get an opportunity at Bath to show my ability.”
England U20 team to play Italy
15 Orlando Bailey (Bath Rugby), 14 Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks), 13 Jack Bates (Bristol Bears), 12 Dan Lancaster (Leeds Tykes), 11 Arthur Relton (Exeter Chiefs), 10 Tommy Mathews (Hartpury University RFC), 9 Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers – ©); 1 Fin Baxter (Harlequins), 2 Sam Riley (Harlequins), 3 Harvey Kindell-Beaton (Saracens), 4 Arthur Clark (Gloucester Rugby), 5 Alex Groves (Bristol Bears), 6 Ewan Richards (Bath Rugby), 7 Jack Clement (Gloucester Rugby), 8 Nahum Merigan (Bath Rugby)
16 Archie Vanes (Leicester Tigers), 17 Tarek Haffar (London Irish), 18 Luke Green (London Irish), 19 Freddie Thomas (Gloucester Rugby), 20 Josh Gray (Gloucester Rugby), 21 Ollie Stonham (Saracens), 22 Tom Carr-Smith (Bath Rugby), 23 Fin Smith (Worcester Warriors), 24 Phil Cokanasiga (London Irish), 25 Deago Bailey (Bristol Bears), 26 Charlie Atkinson (Wasps)