Newcastle Falcons wing Zach Kibirige is playing down his wonder try in England Under-20s 67-7 thrashing of Wales on Friday, insisting it was down to a “lucky break”.
His sensational solo effort instantly became a Youtube sensation after the Yarm flyer sped through or past most of the Welsh team single-handedly at his home ground of Kingston Park, having collected the ball on his own 22.
Breaking three tackles and out-pacing the remaining chasers, the 19-year-old said modestly: “It was a lucky little break to get it when I did. The space just seemed to open up, and that is what I like to do.”
Kibirige’s 70-metre special was one of 10 England tries on the night as the world champions demolished Wales in a repeat of last year’s World Cup final, fellow Falcon Scott Wilson also earning a standing ovation for a fine shift at tight-head prop.
Captain Gus Jones scored four of his side’s tries in a display of forward dominance, Kibirige stating: “I wouldn’t say it was routine, despite the scoreline.
“Wales are always a tough team and they were World Cup finalists, so we were not expecting an easy game by any stretch and we had to work.
“We just focused on getting our processes right, and we really did that. It was what enabled us to come away with a result like we did, and everyone is delighted with the performance.”
Having had to watch on from the sidelines for much of the night while his pack made hay through the middle, the Middlesbrough-born flyer was not kicking up a fuss.
He said: “It was all about doing the basics well, sticking to our plan, and it paid off.
“I cannot complain out on the wing when all the forwards are scoring through the centre.
“The pack were fantastic and did most of the work, and even though the wingers might not have seen too much ball you can’t really have a problem with that when we kept on scoring.
“We said at half-time that the way we were playing was really working, and to keep on doing it.” A beaming smile on his face after a team and personal performance which really caught the eye, Kibirige said: “I’m a very happy man – absolutely delighted.
“I love playing with these boys, and producing winning rugby like we did.
“Being on my home ground made it a little extra special, having so many family and friends in the crowd. The fans gave me brilliant support, and playing for your country in your home region has got to be right up there.”
Despite their emphatic victory on Friday England remain in second place in the Under-20s Six Nations standings, two points behind the unbeaten French who were 21-15 winners when the two teams met in Besancon.
England tackle Italy in Calvisano on Friday in the climax of the competition, a venue in which Kibirige has already shone this season after scoring two tries for the Falcons on Amlin Challenge Cup duty.
“I am absolutely loving playing for the 20s,” he said, in his first season since stepping up from Under-18s level. “We had the weekend off and we are back in camp in Guildford now before we fly out to Italy for the next game.
“The coaches are brilliant, and it is great playing with boys of that standard. It boosts your game and really brings you on, which is what it is all about.”
Having struggled for Premiership game-time under Newcastle boss Dean Richards the clamour for him to be picked is growing by the week, but the man himself is playing it cool.
“I am personally just taking it game by game, and focusing on what I have got to do out on the pitch,” said Kibirige. “If an opportunity comes my way back at the club then so be it, and I will take it with both hands.”