It’s time for Moment Three of Group Eight as the knockout stages near – today we’re looking back on Alex Lundberg OH (2013)’s victory with England at the U20 World Championship. Vote in our Twitter poll on Friday to decide your favourite moments – the winner will progress to the quarter-final stage!
When England’s U20 team defended their World Championship title in June 2014 by beating South Africa 21-20, the country’s young rugby players had caused much optimism across the nation. The captain, a certain Maro Itoje, was rising rapidly; Nick Tompkins and Nathan Earle were starring in the backline.
Also on the field was Handre Pollard, who made his full Springbok debut only a week later, and fellow future Rugby World Cup winner Jesse Kriel.
Amid all the future international stars, there was a powerful Old Hamptonian on the England substitutes’ bench – prop Alex Lundberg OH (2013), then of Wasps. Lundberg had already represented England numerous times, winning 11 caps through the age groups, for the U16, U18, U19 and U20 teams.
Lundberg was one of the most promising schoolboy rugby players in the country when he left in 2013: initially as a flanker before converting to loosehead prop, he was an integral part of the school’s rugby success at the time.
In 2010, he reached the Natwest Cup semi-finals with the U15s – a feat that no Hampton U15 side had ever achieved before and has since only been matched once (by the Fourth Year class of 2017/18).
A year later, he joined the school’s First XV, playing as a flanker. He enjoyed the halcyon days of Hampton rugby, reaching the Last 16 of the Natwest Cup in 2011 and 2012, before captaining the team to the semi-final in 2013. Though that cup run ended in devastating fashion with defeat to Dulwich, Lundberg was a formidable opponent on the schoolboy circuit across his three years in the senior teams.
Fast-forward one season and Lundberg was starring for England U20s in his first year out of school, securing a place on the substitutes’ bench throughout the World Championship, beating off competition from current England star Ellis Genge for the number-17 jersey.
After a strong campaign, England reached the final, where they would play South Africa in the hopes of becoming champions for the second consecutive season.
England took the lead through Nathan Earle’s try just before half-time having trailed for much of the opening stanza, and extended their advantage after the interval through Joel Conlon’s score and five points from the boot of fly-half Billy Burns.
South Africa hit back, though, with Jesse Kriel’s converted try to make the score 20-21 and set-up a thrilling conclusion.
Lundberg came off the bench for Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi in the latter stages and partook in an exceptional defensive effort as England successfully held-off South Africa’s power and defended their title in the dying seconds.
Lundberg has since struggled with injury, leaving Wasps to join Championship club Ealing Trailfinders (under the stewardship of fellow OH Ben Ward), but his success in achieving selection for England’s flagship junior team, before winning the prestigious World Cup trophy in a star-studded team is just reward for a hugely promising schoolboy career.
There is little doubt that, should he remain injury free, Lundberg possesses all the talent necessary to launch a successful long-term career in the sport.