Sam Olver kept his cool with a late winning conversion © Dave Ikin
Academy News Olver kicks England U18 to dramatic victory
Saints Academy fly half Sam Olver kept his cool to kick the winning conversion with the final act of England Under-18’s tense 17-15 win over Wales in South Africa. Fellow Gardeners Josh Peters and Josh Skelcey both started the game in George, the latter one of three try scorers in white.
It was a topsy-turvy encounter at Outeniqua Park, England taking the lead inside 60 seconds through scrum-half James Mitchell but then trailing 10-15 as the countdown clock hit zero despite Saints wing Skelcey’s second half effort. Alex Lundberg intervened, however, and Olver capped the late drama with the extras.
But while Olver may have appeared to be the man with ice in his veins, the 18-year-old who joined the Senior Academy this summer recalled a different feeling.
“I could see my heart pumping through my chest as I was about to take the kick!” he said post-match. “I knew after we scored the try that it was 15-15 and that the pressure was on. But I just focused on my routine and I was delighted to see it fly between the sticks.
“It’s why you put the hours in on the training ground, and although you can’t replicate the pressure, you can replicate your process, and like I say – I was just over the moon that it went over and that we got the win.”
Head coach John Fletcher wasn’t doubting Olver as he stepped up to the tee and was full of praise for the young 10.
“It was a high pressure kick for Sam but I’m not surprised that he knocked it over – he has a fantastic attitude and I had every faith in him,” Fletcher added. “I don’t want to sensationalise him but he certainly has the attitude and the character of some of the best fly half’s that I’ve worked with.”