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World Championship Diaries: Alex Coles

Fraser Dingwall, Alex Coles and Ollie Sleightholme are flying the Black, Green and Gold flag across the other side of the world with England Under-20s.

The trio of young Saints are all representing their country at the World Rugby Under-20s Championship, which takes place in Argentina from the 4th to the 22nd of June.

In a series of diary entries, we are catching up with the lads throughout the tournament.

Next up is lock Coles, who is relishing the prospect of a final showdown with Wales for fifth place after bearing Ireland (30-23) last time out, before a South American holiday to Peru and Bolivia beckons...

We had a few days off before the Ireland game so a few of us went fishing out in the middle of nowhere which was pretty fun.

Aaron Hinckley is pretty keen to be the social secretary of the team so he’s been trying to organise things for some of the lads.

Sleights caught himself a piranha so he was pretty happy with that – I think that was probably the best catch of the day to be fair to him.

We’re supposed to be going golfing before we play Wales but the heavy rain means that everywhere is a bit waterlogged at the moment, so we might have to improvise a bit – we could play a bit of indoor cricket in the team room, so long as we don’t put a hole in one of the hotel walls!

I’ve been rooming with Tom Willis and I was with him on the Under-18s tour to South Africa as well so I know him pretty well.

We’re both big Peep Show fans so we’ve been smashing that between us in the room and we’re both just pretty chilled guys so it works well.

Rosario is quite a lot bigger than Santa Fe so it’s been good for people to go out for coffees and steaks and things like that.

I’ve actually got my family out here too – my dad, mum, sister and one of my mates – so it’s been really nice to see them on days off and go for some food or exploring.

We played Ireland on Monday and obviously we were really pleased with the end result, although we made things pretty hard for ourselves by picking up cards at unfortunate times again.

There was a bit of déjà vu with getting the cards and them coming back at us strongly from the 60-minute mark onwards, but it really shows how far we’ve come that we came back and won it right at the death – I was really pleased with the character that we showed.

We’ve definitely come together a bit more as a group as the tournament has progressed, and having someone like Dingers there as a calm head to keep everyone together really helped everyone focus on what they had to do.

There were some big moments at the end of the game; we had to get the ball back, get into their half, and eventually we got over, so it definitely shows we’re a closer unit than we were before.

I’m not sure we could say our discipline improved as we still got three yellow cards, but learning how to win those tight games is important.

I was involved in a similar finish with Saints in the Premiership Rugby Cup match against Wasps right at the start of the year. We had a scrum five metres out and then had to execute a few pick-and-gos, so it was pretty exciting to be in the middle of that again.

We were really happy to finally beat Ireland and there was a fair amount of relief as well having lost to them twice this year – the boys were proud to win and especially in that manner.

We have Wales up next in the fifth-place play-off final. Obviously it would have been pretty cool to play the Kiwis, but at the same time it’s exciting to get the chance to right a wrong from the Six Nations, as like Ireland we also lost to Wales earlier this year.

This will be a very different content; it’s always really hostile going to Wales and you’re up against it going there. They played well but I don’t think we put our best foot forward in that Six Nations game and a few errors at the end cost us.

So hopefully we can take some confidence from the Ireland game and do a job in our final match.

The Argentinian people seem to have really got behind the tournament and the support for their team, particularly with them getting to the semi-finals, has been exceptional.

We’ve been training at a local club and this whole procession with a marching band came out while we were there. They are clearly really enthusiastic about the sport so I’m really enjoying it out here.

I’m actually staying out and going straight out to Peru and Bolivia with a couple of mates so hopefully I can take in some more of the South American culture before cracking on with preseason.

After a long season and a lot of rugby it will be nice to switch off for a bit; seeing Machu Picchu will be pretty cool as will going out to the jungle in Bolivia, swimming with pink river dolphins and lots of stuff like that.

I’ll be returning to Northampton a little later then some of the other lads to make sure I get my proper amount of rest in, but I’m sure I’ll have to make up for it and put in the hard yards when I get back!

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