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Baby Blacks change five for massive U20s clash with champions France

By Liam Heagney
New Zealand players during their match day one anthem last Saturday in Athlone (Photo by Thinus Maritz/World Rugby)

New Zealand boss Jono Gibbes has named a Baby Blacks side to face France showing five changes from match day one at the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa. The Kiwis got the show on the road with a 41-34 Pool A win over Wales at Athlone last Saturday and they have now changed three forwards and two backs for their eagerly anticipated clash with the French.

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It was in match day two at last year’s tournament when France stole a march, comprehensively defeating New Zealand 35-14 in Paarl. They went on to win the title, their third in succession at U20s, while the Baby Blacks, with Clark Laidlaw at the helm of the class of 2023, finished down the rankings in seventh.

Sifting through the match day two changes to the forwards for the French rematch in Stellenbosch, 2024 boss Gibbes has promoted Logan Watson-Wallace as the starting tighthead with Joshua Smith dropping to the bench.

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In the back row, Andrew Smith and Mosese Bason have been chosen to respectively start at blindside and No8 with Tai Cribb missing out and Matt Lowe switching to the bench.

Out the back, the two starting line-up alterations are in the back three with Isaac Hutchinson at full-back in place of the benched Sam Coles while Xavier Tito-Harris, a replacement the last day versus the Welsh, takes over on the right wing from Frank Vaenuku.

Fixture
World Rugby U20 Championship
France U20
26 - 27
Full-time
New Zealand U20
All Stats and Data

New Zealand (vs France, Thursday): 1. Will Martin, 2. Vernon Bason (capt), 3. Logan Watson-Wallace, 4. Tom Allen, 5. Liam Jack, 6. Andrew Smith, 7. Jonathan Lee, 8. Mosese Bason; 9. Dylan Pledger, 10. Rico Simpson; 11. Stanley Solomon, 12. Xavi Taele, 13. Aki Tuivailala, 14. Xavier Tito-Harris; 15. Isaac Hutchinson. Reps: 16. Manumaua Letiu, 17. Sika Uamaki, 18. Joshua Smith, 19. Cameron Christie, 20. Matt Lowe, 21. Ben O’Donovan, 22. Sam Coles, 23. King Maxwell.

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Andrew 18 days ago

Whats happened to Malachi Wrampling? He looked unstoppable in the Aussie tournament

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