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Henry Arundell reveals ex-London Irish teammates inspired dream World Cup debut

Arundell became only the fourth Englishman to score five tries in a single international match

Harry Latham-Coyle
in Lille
Sunday 24 September 2023 22:00 BST
(Getty Images)

Henry Arundell has said that his dream World Cup debut came partly out of playing for his ex-London Irish teammates after the demise of the Premiership club in June.

Arundell became only the fourth Englishman to score five tries in a single fixture, joining Douglas Lambert, Rory Underwood and Josh Lewsey in an exclusive club.

The 20-year-old showcased his finishing skills for his fourth score particularly, deftly chipping, chasing and collecting to beat the last defender.

It had been a difficult summer for Arundell, with Irish’s suspension from the Premiership confirmed just before England’s squad began their preparations for this tournament.

The 20-year-old subsequently agreed a move to Racing in Paris, which may leave his immediate international future in doubt.

Under current Rugby Football Union (RFU) regulations, only England-based players are eligible to be picked for the national team, though Jack Willis, who joined Toulouse after Wasps entered administration, was able to be included last season under an exceptional circumstances clause.

Arundell admits he has not yet considered what the future may hold, with his focus firmly on the World Cup.

“It was a sad time for a lot of people, so there was a bit of me that was playing for those [London Irish] lads,” Arundell explained.

“A lot of them wished me luck today and that was quite special having that. I’m still messaging a lot of them and I’m really glad that a lot of them have pushed on and are doing great things, and signed for new clubs and are thriving.

“I was lucky we went straight into the head start camps four days later, so I was able to distract myself by going straight to training and doing the best I can to get selected for a World Cup.

“Ultimately you do just have to move on quickly, that’s the nature of it. I’ll look back on this properly, probably later in my career, and think ‘well, what the hell happened there?’ But you do have to move on very quickly otherwise you are left behind.

“Regardless of what club I’m at now or will be in the future, I’ll always play for all those fans and that club. That was my first club, the club that made me and brought me to where I am now.”

Henry Arundell has said that messages from his ex-London Irish teammates inspired his performance (Getty Images)

Arundell’s five tries were part of eleven in total for England, finding their attacking fluency to thrash a Chile side making their first appearance at a World Cup.

While the outmatched opposition must be accounted for, Steve Borthwick will have been pleased with the overall showing, with Owen Farrell, returning from suspension, and Marcus Smith, in a new starting role at full-back, among those impressing.

The youngster had dealt with a watching brief in England’s first two pool matches in France, but pressed his case for inclusion in the tougher games to come at the tournament.

A number of individuals were making their first appearance of the campaign as Borthwick rotated his squad, and Arundell suggested the head coach’s simple messaging was key as England made it three wins from three.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a mental challenge, it’s whatever your role is week-to-week you’ve got to do it to the best of your ability,” Arundell said of not featuring in the first two fixtures. “We’ve put out two unbelievable performances against Argentina and Japan.

“Obviously you want to be playing in every game, but if the lads are winning it’s a 33-man effort, so as long as we’re doing that and the team is moving forward that’s the main priority.

“[Steve Borthwick] has been very good and kept it very simple by saying ‘back your instincts’ – run and hit, that’s what we like to do, as you’ve seen watching. It’s nothing complicated, it’s being direct and giving players key targets going into the game. He’s been very good.

“Playing at a World Cup is a dream come true. It’s incredible, and doing something like that today, I probably hadn’t really dreamt of that, it just happened. But it’s really special.”

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