Named captain of the Saxons side for the first international of this status at Leicester Tigers’ home since February 1998, Crane played a full part as England scored four tries in a 31-13 victory over Ireland A.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better, it’s a great honour to captain your country, especially at this level, and to do it at Welford Road was fantastic,” said 21-year-old Crane. “It was a very proud moment to lead the team out here. There is playing at Twickenham and then there is captaining your country at Welford Road, a senior team as well. It was the same for all the Leicester guys. There is always great home support and a great atmosphere.
“I think it helped that there were a lot of guys around me who I knew and there is mutual respect. That makes it a little bit easier. But I took it as a challenge and it was a great experience to do it, hopefully I will a chance in the future to do it again.”
The Saxons turned the screw in the second half, with Crane’s Tigers colleague Tom Varndell running in two tries following a first-half score from hooker David Paice. Wing Delon Armitage grabbed the final touchdown.
“In the first half playing against the wind, we made too many mistakes but we got it together and ran in four tries, which meant we did something for the crowd as well,” said Crane.
“It was great to test ourselves against these guys, Ireland had some experience out there and a picked a good team.
“But it was great to play with so many of the boys I have known over the years. A lot of that team came through together in the 19s and 21s – Tom Varndell, Shane Geraghty, Ryan Lamb, Nick Abendanon. We have all known each other quite well and bonded together as a team and I think that really showed on the pitch.”