England captain Jack van Poortvliet has been crowned Six Nations Under-20s Player of the Championship.
Van Poortvliet was recognised for his outstanding performances throughout five thrilling rounds of action, winning a vote featuring the head coaches and captains from each nation.
He becomes the first ever winner of the award.
Having started and skippered each of his country’s five successive wins, van Poortvliet played an integral role in securing England the coveted trophy for the first time since 2017.
A Player of the Match display helped England to an opening 38-22 win over three-time winners France, while the 20-year-old would go on to score a try apiece against Scotland and Wales.
A hard-fought 27-17 win over Italy in Round 5 was enough to secure a clean sweep, and after receiving his Player of the Championship plaudits van Poortvliet was quick to recognise the rest of the England setup.
“I’m very honoured,” he said. “I’m delighted to have received this award but I can’t take any credit away from the team. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything I’ve done without everyone else around me.
“They’ve put the ball on a plate for me and I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to play with a pack like mine and a backline like mine.
“It’s been a great Championship and a couple of big moments stand out. The turnaround against France was huge, and I think the Ireland game really set the tone for our defence.
“I’m just grateful I’ve been able to experience it with such a brilliant group of guys, and come out on top.
“With the year we’ve all had there have been a lot of camps and not many official games, so I’m super proud of how everyone’s pulled together and performed like we have.
“We didn’t know much about the other teams and I hadn’t been with the squad much prior to the tournament, but as soon as I joined the group I knew we had a good chance. We’ve shown an ability to win games throughout the series and I’ve loved playing with the boys.”
Ben Morel, Six Nations CEO, said: “Representing your country is a huge achievement for any player. This year, our Under-20 squads had to overcome the fact that they had not played international games in over a year due to the pandemic. They were asked to adhere to strict covid protocols and were away from their homes for a long period of time. They took it in their stride and produced exciting high-quality rugby.
“Massive congratulation to Jack on an outstanding campaign. We wish him luck for a long and successful career in rugby.”