michelow training
“These are the kind of occasions you want to be involved in.”

So says England No.8 Nathan Michelow as he and his teammates prepare to battle it out for the Six Nations U20 title on Friday evening.

The pulsating 32-32 draw with Ireland last week in round four means that England have won three and drawn one heading into the final batch of Championship fixtures for 2024.

They are top of the standings right now and the 2021 winners hold a slender one-point advantage over 2022 and 2023 champions Ireland with everything still to play for, with even France having a very slim chance of glory.

Ireland’s round five match with bottom side Scotland kicks off at 7pm on Friday in Cork, while England are in France to play the third-placed French at the Stade du Hameau in Pau at 8pm UK time.

There are set to be twists and turns before the champions are crowned and Saracens man Michelow, 19, said: “We are all looking forward to it, these are the kind of occasions you want to be involved in.

“There will be a big crowd in France cheering on the hosts and everything has been looking towards France and what we need to get right in that game, we have been nailing down the clarity.

“The messages have been really simple: we will focus on ourselves and not get too caught up in what has happened already or what might be happening elsewhere on Friday night.

“This group has grown a lot over the last few weeks together and now we know we need one more big performance to give us the outcome that we want.”

Luke Murphy’s last-gasp try, converted by Sean Naughton, gave Ireland a share of the spoils last week at Bath’s Recreation Ground and Michelow relished that occasion in front of a bumper crowd, despite the ending.

“The Ireland game last week is definitely one of the most memorable games I have ever played in so far in my career,” he explained.

“The crowd was unbelievable. When we ran out of the tunnel at the start we got tingles because the atmosphere was so good and I think it is up there with my favourite games, even though the end result wasn’t exactly what we were after. It was proper Test match rugby.

“When the final whistle went in the Ireland game we were a bit gutted that they had fought back for a draw given how close we were to winning it. There was quite a bit to process, but I said it to the group afterwards that we were not going to feel sorry for ourselves.

“We have taken the positives out of that performance and ever since an hour or so after that game all focus has been on France.

“We have a big job to do this Friday and it is still in our hands to go there and take it, so that shift in focus in recent days has been good.”

Michelow’s rugby journey began later than some, but since his days playing at the Coopers' Company and Coborn School and then Sutton Valence School he has been on an upward curve.

Last season he gained some experience in the Saracens first team and that allowed him to push on and be selected for last summer’s U20 World Championship in South Africa.

Things have moved on apace since then and game time with Saracens and on loan at Ampthill in the early part of 2023/24 set him up nicely for this campaign.

His ball carrying and defensive efforts have been a big part of England’s unbeaten run and he is just keen to keep on learning.

“At Saracens I am in a great environment to learn because we have so many good back-row players there,” he stated.

“Someone like Ben Earl, who is doing very well with England just now, is the kind of guy I look up to and try and take things from because he brings a lot of energy out there on the pitch and has a lot of clarity around his own role and what he brings to the team.

“I want to bring energy this Friday and help England U20 achieve something special.”