Max Ojomoh, Nahum Merigan and Gabe Hamer-Webb were all included in Alan Dickens’ England U20s training squad ahead of the 2020 Six Nations campaign in February.
This selection has provided the trio with an opportunity to impress in another new environment after having successfully integrated within the full-time environment at Bath Rugby over the past six months.
The Senior Academy trio have been through the age-groups together in the Bath Rugby Pathway and have shared experiences on and off the field that have shaped their development so far, with the prospect of this continuing with England being an exciting next-step in their young careers.
Hamer-Webb was unable to participate in the majority of the first camp due to being selected in the matchday squad for Bath Rugby’s recent Gallagher Premiership match against Saracens in Round 5, after his impressive start to the new season.
The winger signed his first academy contract ahead of the 2019/20 season after having joined the Bath Rugby pathway at the age of 14. The winger was one of the stand-out performers for within Bath Rugby’s partnership programme at Beechen Cliff School and for the Club’s U18s in the 2018/19 season.
Ojomoh and Merigan both stayed with the U20s for the full three-day camp, giving themselves the best opportunity they could to be selected for the six-nations campaign.
Commenting on the experience of their first full camp with England U20s, Ojomoh and Merigan reflected on their experiences and looked ahead to rest of the season on both the domestic and international front.
Merigan said: “It was the first camp that I have been involved in and it was good to see Alan Dickens come in as it was his first Camp after becoming the England U20s Head Coach. It was also nice to get to know the lads as well and bond with other players that I haven’t had the chance to play with before.
“We had Eddie Jones come into our session and led training which was very good. I took away a lot of learnings from that session, especially around the basics of the game and at the breakdown. I managed to ask him a lot of questions which was really beneficial to me about his vision on pathway and player progression which gives me a vision to focus on with England. It was just an unbelievable experience.”
Ojomoh emphasised Merigan’s point on their first camp together since England U18s, he added: “It has been a really amazing experience and play amongst some of the best boys of my age group and being able to try and show them what I have learnt from playing in the first team during the Premiership Cup earlier in the season.
“We did a lot of training during the camp and it was a nice surprise to see Eddie Jones come in and coach one session with us. It was a surreal experience to have him around and observing our camp.
“I used the opportunity to ask Eddie a few questions on what he looks for in an international inside centre and regarding how I can improve my game. I also asked what he likes about the best 12’s in the country like Owen Farrell so I can improve my game and set clear targets on how I can get to that stage when the times come.”
Bath Rugby’s No. 8 Merigan joined the Pathway at the age of 13 and has grown into a promising backrow player throughout his time in the system. The 18-year-old has made two senior appearances against Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester Rugby in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
The back rower admitted his excitement at being selected and it looking to impress Dickens in his two-year window in the U20s set up.
Merigan said: “It is very exciting to be selected and to continue my journey in the England set up and if you look through Eddie Jones’ squad you will see a lot of young talent in the side with players like Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Maro Itoje, so there is an opportunity to grow and develop in the same path that these players have.
“It is all a building block and I am very excited to be a part of that journey. I am fortunate enough to be able to have two years with this U20 team so I can put my best foot forward during both years hopefully which will then allow me to be a part of the senior team if I am selected at that time in my career.”
Ojomoh is also looking ahead to the shared experiences that the England camps will give him. The 19-year-old has been in the Academy since the age of 14 and has been an integral part of Bath Rugby U18s last season, which led to his England U18s debut against France last season.
The centre said: “Everyone has had different experiences and it has been great to learn from them and it works both ways, they have been able to pick up things from me too, so it has been a good learning process. It will be good to adapt to new team-mates, new structures and playing in a different style.
“It was really good to have Nahum in the camp too and Gabe Hamer-Webb for the short time that he was there. I remember getting the email and calling Gabe and Nahum and it was the only email we had been waiting for to find out whether we were involved or not. It was good to be able to have a familiar face around because when we weren’t training, I was able to kick back with him.