Monday, July 22, 2024
HomesportEngland's Youngs bows out content and proud after 127 caps

England's Youngs bows out content and proud after 127 caps

PARIS: Scrumhalf Ben Youngs will make his 127th and last appearance for England on Friday having decided to retire from international rugby after a remarkable career that has seen him perform under four coaches and appear in four World Cups over 13 years.

The France tournament has seen him predominantly in the background as Alex Mitchell was the regular starting nine with Danny Care the preferred replacement. He gets the chance to bow out on the big stage, however, after being chosen to start the Bronze Final against Argentina and walk away on his own terms.

“It just feels right, Youngs, 34, said. “I’m proud and privileged to get that opportunity. I’ve done it for so long and there’s great talent within the nine jersey. The fact I had this in my head for a long time and then I didn’t hesitate about it makes me realise that it’s absolutely the right decision.

“I’ll look forward to playing club rugby and supporting this team from a distance, but it’s been a great ride.”

Talking about his back-up role in France, having been first choice for so long, he said: “It’s definitely been different. You still drive the team and have a huge part in terms of giving off your experiences, you just don’t get to do it at the weekend. I’d be doing the team a disservice if I didn’t still do all those bits.”

Youngs follows Courtney Lawes in announcing his retirement and the likes of Danny Care, Dan Cole, Joe Marler and Jonny May are likely to follow suit as one England era ends.

Youngs made his debut off the bench as an emergency winger in a 15-15 draw with Scotland in 2010 under Martin Johnson.

But Stuart Lancaster, Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick have all appreciated his remarkable ability to link with team mates, control a game and the accuracy of his kicking and continued to pick him – as did Warren Gatland for the British & Irish Lions.

“I’ve have had four coaches with England and I have been picked by all four and that is a nice touch,” he said. “I guess I am proud of that because it shows I clearly bring something to the party.

“I will miss the adrenalin of running out in front of a full stadium, the pressure of big games, when everything is on the line. I’ll miss the build-up to a big week with your team mates and I’ll also just miss that camaraderie, the common goal of trying to achieve something special within an elite group.

“So there are a fair few things I’ll miss, but, equally, I’ll look back very fondly and am very content.”

Youngs said playing alongside his brother Tom, hooker for England and the Lions, were special moments in his career and he picked out a handful of particular matches that are among his favourite memories.

“The grand slam win in Paris in 2016 and probably when we beat Ireland in the first round of the 2019 Six Nations,” he said. “Going to Australia and whitewashing them 3-0, that was pretty special as well.

“But New Zealand in that 2019 semi-final was one of the greatest team performances I have ever been a part of. I’ve never been in a team that’s gelled and clicked and had such precision in a game in my life.

“A lot of people deem that to be England’s greatest performance. We almost played the ultimate game that day and I was a part of it so I’m very proud of that.”

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