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World Championship Diaries: Fraser Dingwall

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’ll catch up with the lads throughout the tournament as they bid to become world champions.

First up is centre Dingwall, who is leading the Red Rose as skipper – and despite an opening 42-26 defeat to Ireland, the 20-year-old remains upbeat about his side's chances and has enjoyed his first few days in Santa Fe.

We’ve been here for just under a week now; this is my first time out here in South America and it’s been really enjoyable so far.

The weather has surprised me a little bit – this is apparently their winter but it’s been around 20 degrees every day so it’s pretty warm!

Culturally, everything seems to go on later and there is obviously the ‘siesta’ period in the afternoon so that’s something that we’ve had to get used to.

Inside the city there was no-one around at all at the weekend when the boys were popping out for coffees and things, but then as soon as the weekdays rolled around the place was absolutely heaving.

It’s very different to any city I’ve ever been to before but there are loads of little coffee shops and places to explore, so the boys are finding things to do.

We’ve not had much chance to take any sightseeing trips or anything like that; we only arrived late on Friday and with our game being on Tuesday we had to balance our recovery and our training quite carefully.

So I think we’ll have some team activities blocked in from now, just to keep all the boys together and make sure we’re mentally fresh as there’s only so many hours you can spend in a hotel!

Argentina is obviously more of a football-focussed country, but we actually had a really decent crowd down for the game on Tuesday, and when Argentina played they had a really good turnout.

Argentina play before we play our next game against Italy, so I imagine there will be a great atmosphere for that one if the crowd sticks around.

We’ve had loads of local people coming up when they’ve seen us out and about to wish us well. There’s a lot of advertising for the tournament around and people clearly know it’s going on, so there’s definitely a bit of a buzz around the rugby at the moment.

I’m rooming with Josh Basham, a Durham University lad. We’ve roomed together before with the Under-18s in South Africa.

He’s pretty chilled out which I quite like – he might be a student but he doesn’t seem too worried about studying! He finished his exams the day before we came out to be fair.

We’re both reasonably tidy and we’re watching a few TV series together at the moment. We started The Bodyguard as neither of us had seen that yet, and obviously Love Island has just kicked off so that’s captured the interest of a few of the boys.

Finding a way to watch over here is the difficult thing but we’re making it work!

In terms of our first match against Ireland, overall it was obviously quite a frustrating one because we had the upper hand for large parts of the game, but then through ill-discipline and inaccuracy we gave them a lot of easy ins – and they were very clinical.

Ireland took their chances when we gave them to them, but I didn’t feel like they ever stretched us too much and the loss was more our own doing in terms of letting them into the game.

Sleights played very well though and obviously took his chances to score two tries. He always seems to find his way over the line; we have a lot of really talented wingers in this squad and he’s someone that is part of that group.

I’m sure he’d be the first one to say that while he scored a couple of tries he’s most keen to progress and show his other attacking contributions and defensive work – he’s a valuable member of the squad but so are all 28 players we have out here.

There’s a long way still to go in the tournament yet, it’s certainly nowhere near done for us. We could still technically qualify top of our group so it’s all to play for; there’s two games left so we have to respond and kick on.

We’ll be putting all of our focus over the coming days onto the next game against Italy and make sure we get a response – all we can control is winning the next two games and then we’ll go from there.

We’ve played Italy earlier this year and beaten them, but we’ll be taking nothing for granted as they’re a strong side.

They asked a lot of questions of Australia in their first game so you can’t afford to take them lightly. We lacked accuracy in a fair few things we did against Ireland, not moving the ball enough which gave them easy opportunities to attack our breakdown.

So potentially we’ll look to move the ball a bit more against Italy to get us moving forward, but overall the accuracy was off and that’s the main area we’ll have to improve.