Honey enjoys dream tour to the Netherlands

By David Sillifant in Rugby

HOLSWORTHY’S Fraser Honey admits that singing the national anthem was a ‘dream come true moment’ after returning from his England Counties under 20s tour to the Netherlands.

The 20-year-old fly-half who has played for the Cornish All Blacks for the last two seasons, was one of 23 players who ply their trade for clubs in National League One or lower to get the chance to represent their country in Amsterdam although he and St Austell’s Toby Robinson had problems before they even got there.

Their early morning train on Sunday, June 4 from Exeter St Davids to London Paddington was delayed by an hour and a half meaning that they had to get the Eurostar by themselves alongside an RFU representative.

However once in Amsterdam, Honey flourished, starting in both victories over Holland?A as well as converting seven of his nine conversions to go alongside a penalty.

Honey has stated his ambition to eventually become a professional rugby player and admitted that the chance to live like that for a week was incredible.

He said: “The whole tour was an absolutely amazing experience. To go over there and play both games and do as well as we did was incredible.”

Once they had arrived in the Dutch capital, it was straight down to business with team meetings and a meal.

With the first game not until Wednesday night at the NRCA Stadium, the home of Dutch rugby, Monday gave the players a chance to spend a day training there before they headed back to the hotel to take part in a pool recovery session.

Tuesday morning was the moment Honey had been waiting for as he was about to find out whether he was picked in the starting 15 for the first game.

He admitted that it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of his life.

“The way that they announced the team was incredible. The management had photoshopped the players faces onto an England kit and everyone was just desperate to be in the starting 15.

“They revealed it to us from 1 to 15 so when it got to number eight or nine it was incredibly nerve-wracking. When number ten came up and my face was on the kit I was just so happy. There and then it all kicked in as to what had happened.”

With over 30 hours to wait until kick-off, Honey admitted that it was difficult to get the preparation and mindset right.

Honey said: “With the kick-off being in the evening it meant that there was a lot of waiting to do. We don’t play evening games very often and waiting around all day was hard. But we did some team-bonding exercises and by the time kick-off came around we were ready to go.

“The dream come true moment for me was singing the national anthem. Getting the kit was great but the anthem was just amazing. Unfortunately my family were on holiday in Turkey and couldn’t switch it which was a bit gutting, but the pride we all had having the Red Rose on our chest was just incredible.”

Holland aren’t a renowned rugby nation but Honey admits that for the first quarter of the game they were more than competitive before England ran out 36-8 winners, which included 11 points from Honey’s boot.

“The game itself was interesting. The first 20 minutes was just so intense. Both teams had so much pride bursting through their veins and it was incredibly physical. However, once we started to impose our game on them we were a bit too skilful for them and we ran out comfortable winners.”

The next couple of days gave them the chance to recover, analyse and do some sight-seeing before the team for Saturday’s match was announced on Friday morning with Honey again a starter.

Saturday’s game, which was played at Rugby Waterland, was an afternoon kick-off, and this time the England side ran out 57-8 winners with Honey adding three conversions from his five attempts before he was replaced with ten minutes to go.

Honey added: “We played a lot better on Saturday. We wanted to do more damage from the first phase and we scored the majority of our tries from that which was great. They had quite a similar team and we knew what to expect so we played well and won convincingly.”

When asked to sum up the rugby side of the tour, Honey admitted that he had received positive feedback from the coaching staff and was just delighted to represent his country.

Honey said: “I spoke to head coach Richie Williams and he was happy with how I did. He said that my game management was generally good and was pleased with the way I alternated between attack and defence and my decision making of when to keep the ball or kick. However when you’re playing for your country it just feels different. You feel like that it’s impossible to make any mistakes. In both games we made over 90% of our tackles which shows you how proud everyone was to be here.”

Looking ahead, Honey is looking forward to taking a few days off before hitting the gym in preparation for pre-season which starts in three or four weeks time.

Honey concluded: “It’ll be great to spend a few days at home with my family. We’ve both been away for the last week or so and they were obviously gutted not to be able to come out but we’ll now get the chance to talk about the experience and then I’ll start to think about what I want to do next season but unfortunately I have left Launceston. I spoke to Jimmy Tucker at length and it was purely a rugby decision. I’ve enjoyed plenty of great times at Polson Bridge but I want to give myself the best chance of becoming a professional rugby player and to do that I need to be playing at a higher standard of rugby.

“I’ve had a few offers from National League One and Two clubs but I need to sit down and think them through. I’m at the age where I need to be playing every week so that’s the main thing. I don’t expect to walk straight into a team but I want to show people that I can play at a higher level with the aim of playing Championship rugby within a couple of years.”

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