Ludlam’s feet remain grounded after starring role in Under-20 rugby World Cup Final
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Suffolk’s rising rugby star Lewis Ludlam insists his feet remain firmly on the floor after receiving glowing praise for his performance in the Under-20 World Cup Final.
England may have narrowly missed out on sealing their third successive triumph in the competition, losing to New Zealand 21-16 in Italy last Saturday, but Ludlam was the star of the show.
Coach Jon Callard hailed the flanker as ‘exceptional on and off the field’, while the Telegraph reported that the former St Joseph’s College pupil “gave a clinic in scavenging play” and proved that England can breed traditional opensides like the Southern Hemisphere.
“That’s great to hear,” said the 18-year-old Northampton Saints academy player, who was voted England’s player of the tournament by his peers. “It’s been a tough season for me, so it’s nice to end it with a little bit of praise.
“It was obviously disappointing we couldn’t win the final, but I think we can be pleased and proud about what we’ve achieved as a group.
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“Lining up in an England shirt and singing the national anthem before a World Cup Final was an incredible feeling.”
Ludlam, who spent last season on loan at third tier side Coventry, broke his leg and damaged ankle ligaments back in January and missed out on the U20 Six Nations campaign as a result. Now he’s fully focussed on establishing himself in the professional game.
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“There’s no time to take your foot off the gas at all, I know I have got to keep working hard,” he said. “Just because you’ve played in an Under-20 World Cup Final that doesn’t guarantee you a professional career.
“What will happen with me next season? I’m not sure as yet. It would be nice to go back out on loan again and get some more game time, but Saints will know what’s best for me.
“I just want to keep improving as a player. It’s a big step up from junior to senior first team rugby and I want that transition to be as smooth as possible.”
Ludlam is now about to start an Open University course in a range of humanities subjects, including philosophy, arts and history.
“I can’t thank Mark Patterson and everyone at St Jo’s enough for the support they’ve given me, both on and off the pitch,” he added.