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Pollard gets MVP award

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 10:36
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Reaction from the Final

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South Africa Under-20 captain Handré Pollard won a consolation prize for his team when he was named the IRB Junior Player of the Year.

This followed after England were crowned IRB Junior World Champions for 2014, beating South Africa 21-20 in a pulsating Final at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

Finalists South Africa and England each had a player nominated - in Baby Bok captain Pollard and wing Nathan Earle respectively, with Ireland centre Garry Ringrose and New Zealand wing Tevita Li completing the shortlist of players.

"It's a great honour," Pollard said.

"However, all credit has to go to my teammates.

"Without them nothing is possible for me, such a great group of guys and I will remember this for the rest of my life."

England, who won a hard-fought victory, extended their hold on the trophy, which they won last year in France.

"It was an unbelievable tournament for us, unbelievable game, the guys were just so brave out there and absolutely delighted," England coach Nick Walshe said.

"To defend your title in New Zealand is a massive, massive challenge, I'm just so happy, I can't speak highly enough for my boys.

"When we were 21-13 up, we had a kick at goal which we missed and I think if we had just got that one more score it would have probably been ok, but then when they scored it was like this is just ridiculous.

"However, our defence on the line was just heroic and then we managed to run down the clock a bit but yes these games aren't good for my heart or my grey hair, what's left of it.!"


England captain Maro Itoje described the victory as "pretty special".

"I am trying to put it into words at the moment," Itoje said.

"I don't have a good vocab [vocabulary] but all I can say at this point is it's a very, very special moment for me.

"It was fair play to South Africa, they brought their game, but I am so happy we did.

"We didn't get our set piece dominance as we wanted to but we dug deep and we came through."

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