The World Rugby U20 Championships kick-off on Tuesday June 7 in Manchester, England where New Zealand will hope to defend the title it won in Italy last year.

Challenging for the title in Manchester will be the best 12 U20 teams in the world including Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The tournament will be tough with Wales, the 6 Nations 2016 Grand Slam winners and hosts England out to upset the southern hemisphere teams.

Round 3 on June 15 is shaping as a key date with New Zealand playing Wales and Australia taking on England.

There are three Pools and the Pool winners will advance to the semi-finals along with the next best placed team.

 

NEW ZEALAND

Seeding for 2016: 1
Best finish: Champions (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015)
Worst finish: Fourth (2013)
U20 Championship match record: Played 40 / Won 34 / Lost 6
U20 Championship points / tries scored: 1,687 / 230

U20 graduates (into Test rugby): 27
Most capped U20 graduate: Sam Whitelock (73 tests)

Did you know...? Ten members of New Zealand’s RWC 2015 winning side came through the U20 Championship pathway and all lifted that distinctive trophy as well.

Coach: Scott Robertson 
Captain: Leni Apisai

One to watch: Jordie Barrett
One of New Zealand’s standout players in their recent Oceania Rugby U20 Championship series with Australia, Barrett is highly regarded by coach Scott Robertson for his kicking game while he has said his “run, catch, pass and vision is probably beyond his years”. The younger brother of RWC 2015 winner Beauden, he too is versatile and can play at fly-half, centre or full-back.

 

SOUTH AFRICA

Seeding for 2016: 3
Best finish: Champions (2012)
Worst finish: Fifth (2011)
U20 Championship match record: Played 40 / Won 31 / Lost 9
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,597 / 217

U20 graduates: 18
Most capped U20 graduate: Pat Lambie (50 tests)

Did you know...? Handré Pollard endured a whirlwind eight days in June 2014 as he went from heartbreak of losing the U20 Championship final 21-20 to England and being named World Rugby Junior Player of the Year to the elation of making his Springbok debut against Scotland. 

Coach: Dawie Theron
Captain: Jeremy Ward

One to watch: Curwin Bosch
A player blessed with natural talent and expected to have a very bright future in the game, Bosch has already starred for South Africa Schools and was named Craven Week Player of the Year in 2014. The fly-half cum full-back has been snapped up the Sharks and will hope to have a double reason to celebrate on his 19th birthday on 25 June with a second U20 Championship title for South Africa. A former 100m and 200m sprinter, Bosch helped South Africa win sevens gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games last year.

 

AUSTRALIA

Seeding for 2016: 5
Best finish: Runners-up (2010)
Worst finish: Eighth (2012)
U20 Championship match record: Played 40 / Won 25 / Lost 15
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,319 / 187

U20 graduates: 32
Most capped U20 graduate: James Slipper (74 tests)

Did you know...? Australia’s U20 graduates have accumulated more test caps than any other nation to date with 704 at the start of June 2016 with half of the eight players to have reached 60 caps to date being Wallabies.

Coach: Adrian Thompson
Captain: James Tuttle

One to watch: Mack Mason
The fly-half played a pivotal role in Australia’s historic first-ever victory over New Zealand at this age during the Oceania Rugby U20 Championship last month, holding his nerve to slot the last-minute winning penalty. A player with plenty of tricks and the skills necessary to unleash a dangerous backline, he will be a key figure if Australia are to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2011.

 

ARGENTINA

Seeding for 2016: 9
Best finish: Fourth (2012)
Worst finish: 11th (2009)
U20 match record: Played 40 / Won 19 / Lost 21 
U20 points/tries scored: 837 / 93

U20 graduates: 54
Most capped U20 graduate: Martín Landajo (52 tests)

Did you know...? Argentina have seen the most players graduate from the U20 Championship to the test arena with 54, including Nicolás Sánchez, Martín Landajo, Pablo Matera and Santiago Cordero.

Coach: Nicolás Fernández Lobbe
Captain: Benito Paolucci

One to watch: Marcos Kremer
This second-row is tipped for a very bright future and could, sooner rather than later, be making the familiar pathway from Los Pumitas to Los Pumas. He won’t be the tallest of second-rows in this year's tournament at 195cm but he is a strong, combative and efficient player who will be very busy around the pitch. 

 

Pools [seedings in brackets]

Pool A: New Zealand [1], Wales [6], Ireland [7], Georgia [12]

Pool B: England [2], Australia [5], Scotland [8], Italy [11]

Pool C: South Africa [3], France [4], Argentina [9], Japan [10]

 

World Rugby U20 Match Schedule

June 7

France v Argentina

South Africa v Japan

Wales v Ireland

Australia v Scotland

England v Italy

New Zealand v Georgia

 

June 11

Australia v Italy

New Zealand v Ireland

Wales v Georgia

France v Japan

South Africa v Argentina

England v Scotland

 

June 15

Argentina v Japan

Scotland v Italy

Ireland v Georgia

New Zealand v Wales

England v Australia

South Africa v France

 

June 20

Semi-finals

 

June 25

Finals