Barnaby Merrett (Upper Sixth) got his first cap playing for England U18 in the summer against South Africa and shared his incredible experience with us below:
“After selection on 20th May, I was over the moon to hear that I was going to make my England U18 debut in South Africa, and a big goal of mine had been achieved. At this point, I was injured and knew I had a lot of hard work to do to get back to game fitness and even better than I was before. After weeks of rehabilitation and hard work to get fully fit, I boarded the plane to South Africa full of nerves and excitement, but very proud.
We were playing three games against South Africa. Two against South Africa U18 and one against South Africa ‘A’ U18. Playing and training in a tour against South Africa was a surreal experience. Training in the first few days including gym sessions and recovery sessions in hard conditions. It was tough, but it brought the team closer together and made us a tight-knit group going into the first game. The first game, being against South Africa U18, was a nerve-racking but exciting experience, it was surreal running out there and singing the National Anthem in front of a big crowd. My family had made the trip out there and it was amazing to have them in the crowd. It was one of the best experiences of my life playing against the South Africans, it was a tough game losing against them and not the result we wanted but a good starting point to the tour with plenty to work on.
The last two games were very entertaining with us winning the second game and losing in the last five minutes of the third game. The South African teams tested us hugely and we learnt a lot as a team. I think it also changed me as a player in general, because I learnt so much.
Overall, the experience of going out to South Africa was unbelievable. Seeing new places, different cultures, making new friends and playing against different types of players from across the world. I look forward to bringing back all I have learnt to Sutton Valence and having another brilliant term with the 1st XV.”