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Che Hope

Che Hope skips clear against Llanelli for Newport in th Indigo Group Premiership (Pic: Simon Latham)

Che’s battle with close friend and rival gives him Hope

Che Hope will never forget his Wales U20 debut, although he is the first to admit that parts of it are a bit hazy.

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The 19-year-old Dragons scrum half was picked to start in the opening Six Nations U20 Summer Series clash against Scotland in Treviso, but lasted only 10 minutes before he had to give way to one of his closest friends and teammates, Morgan Lloyd.

He had to watch Wales turn in a stellar performance with seven tries in blistering heat as they overpowered the Scots 45-15 to launch their campaign with a bonus-point win. Unfortunately, Hope watched most of it from the sidelines.

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“I went in for a tackle and so did Christ Tshuinza at the same time. His arm came around and unfortunately caught me flush in the face,” explained Hope.

“It was a complete accident, but I was in a bit of a daze for a few moments. I had to come off and that allowed Morgan to come on earlier than expected.

“I’ve been following the back to play protocols and feel fine. I’m hoping to be cleared to play for the final round of matches.”

The injury meant Hope sat out the second round game against Georgia yesterday. Lloyd was one of three changes to the starting XV that saw off the Scots.

“Morgan and I are good friends, neighbours, teammates at the Dragons and, of course, rivals. We’ve been playing together since we were 11 and teamed up in school, at Blackwood RFC and for Islwyn District Schools,” added Hope.

“In those early days Morgan was playing in the centre, but then he switched to scrum half. He had a very good U20 Six Nations campaign and did really well when he replaced me, scoring a try near the end.

“It was great to get on the field and win my first cap, although the heat and humidity were difficult to handle. It was around 32 degrees and made life really tough for all the players.

“I had never experienced conditions like that before and we were all running for the shade of the stand whenever there was a break in play. It was just as well they built in water breaks.”

Both scrum halves have spent time at Eugene Cross Park playing for Ebbw Vale. Hope broke his collar bone at the start of last season while playing for the Steelmen, but returned in Newport colours at the end of the season and helped the Black & Ambers to win the Indigo Premiership Cup at Principality Stadium.

That victory added to the Welsh Schools & Colleges Cup final triumph he achieved with Coleg Gwent at Sardis Road in January, 2020. On that occasion, Lloyd played at centre with two more of Hope’s current Wales U20 colleagues, Joe Westwood and Oli Andrew, also in the side.

Hope has another year to go in the U20 age group and is hoping to have a Coleg Gwent reunion in Welsh colours before the quartet pass out into senior rugby.

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