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World Rugby U20 Championship match day three game-by-game guide

By Liam Heagney
Aki Tuivailala reacts after scoring a try for New Zealand U20s in Stellenbosch (Photo by Nic Bothma/World Rugby)

Tuesday is the final match day in the pool stage at the World Rugby U20 Championship and the six-game programme is littered with a series of do or die, must-watch fixtures.


Three matches are scheduled for Athlone: Ireland-Australia (2pm local time), France-Wales (4:30pm) and South Africa-England (7pm). Over in Stellenbosch, it’s Argentina-Fiji (2pm), Georgia-Italy (4:30pm) and New Zealand-Spain (7pm).

As with the previous two rounds, all half-dozen games can be streamed live and for free on RugbyPass TV in all countries that don’t have an exclusive local host broadcaster deal. Click here to sign up for Tuesday’s coverage. Here, RugbyPass sifts through the team announcements and predicts the likely results:

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HITS, BUMPS AND HANDOFFS! | The biggest collisions from the U20s World Championships

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HITS, BUMPS AND HANDOFFS! | The biggest collisions from the U20s World Championships

Ireland (seeded 2) vs Australia (5)Pool B at Athlone (2pm local, Ref: Morne Ferreira, SARU) 
Having survived the fright of their lives with their miracle 24-phase play that grabbed them an 83rd-minute converted try to pip Georgia 22-16 in Stellenbosch, Ireland have made 11 changes for a fixture where not getting beaten will see them finish top of Pool B and qualify for the semi-final.

Just one of their round two starting pack is retained, James McKillop moving from lock to blindside in a unit that doesn’t have skipper Evan O’Connell available. He played the entire game versus the Georgians but exited the Danie Craven wearing an ankle boot and isn’t fit.

The three players kept on in the backline are scrum-half Oliver Coffey, try-scoring midfielder Hugh Gavin and full-back Ben O’Connor. Finn Treacy, the hero off the bench the last day, is among those promoted to start.

Despite their shock 12-17 loss to Italy, the Junior Wallabies have maintained faith with most of their XV knowing that a win will qualify them as pool winners. Nathan Grey has made just two changes, starting Nick Bloomfield at tighthead in place of the benched Trevor King and including the fit-again Archer Saunders on the right wing with Angus Staniforth excluded.


Regarding a prediction, you can toss a coin. As inconsistent as Australia were for 50 minutes against Georgia and for the entire 80 against Italy, they have a golden opportunity to erase that slack form by getting one over the Irish who sucker-punched them in a pool match last year in Paarl that left them fuming they were beaten.

Fatigue could well be a result-deciding factor. While Australia have numerous players starting their third game in a row, Ireland rotated for game two but now go with 10 of the side that started in round one in an impressive 55-15 win over Italy.

IRELAND: 1. Emmet Calvey, 2. Danny Sheahan, 3. Patreece Bell, 4. Billy Corrigan, 5. Alan Spicer, 6. James McKillop, 7. Bryn Ward, 8. Brian Gleeson (capt); 9. Oliver Coffey, 10. Jack Murphy; 11. Hugo McLaughlin, 12. Hugh Gavin, 13. Wilhelm de Klerk, 14. Finn Treacy, 15. Ben O’Connor. Reps: 16. Stephen Smyth, 17. Jacob Boyd, 18. Andrew Sparrow, 19. Sean Edogbo, 20. Max Flynn, 21. Tadhg Brophy, 22. Sean Naughton, 23. Davy Colbert.

AUSTRALIA: 1. Lington Ieli, 2. Ottavio Tuipulotu, 3. Nick Bloomfield, 4. Toby Macpherson (capt), 5. Ollie McCrea, 6. Aden Ekanayake, 7. Dane Sawers, 8. Jack Harley; 9. Dan Nelson, 10. Harry McLaughlin-Phillips; 11. Ronan Leahy, 12. Jarrah McLeod, 13. Kadin Pritchard, 14. Archer Saunders; 15. Shane Wilcox. Reps: 16. Bryn Edwards, 17. Nathaniel Tiitii, 18. Trevor King, 19. Eamon Doyle, 20. Dominic Thygesen, 21. Austin Durbidge, 22. Billy Dickens, 23. Boston Fakafanua.


Argentina (9) vs Fiji (10)Pool C at Stellenbosch (2pm, Ref: Sam Grove-White, SRU)
Following their splendid 31-12 destruction of hosts South Africa in Stellenbosch, Argentina head back to the same ground having gone with seven changes to their starting line-up for a round three match they will expect to win with something to spare.

Four of the alterations are to the pack that left the Junior Boks wilting, especially their devastating maul, with hooker Juan Manuel Vivas and tighthead Gael Galvan amongst those stepping up to an XV that continues to be skippered by the very impressive Efrain Elias, who is set to sign for Toulouse.

Out the back, there is a different half-back partnership starting in Genaro Podesta and Facundo Rodriguez, with left winger Felipe Ledesma the third change.

Fiji, meanwhile, have altered five of their starting XV, with two changes to their pack and three in the backs. They have had it rough results-wise at this Championship, losing 7-57 to South Africa and 11-48 to England, and while they look set to be beaten again, they will hope that the margin of defeat will be their closest yet having so far gone from 50 to 37.

The pity for Argentina is that while they are set to finish with two bonus-point pool wins from three, their 10 match points tally won’t be enough for them to progress as the best runner-up unless Wales-France finishes in a draw.

ARGENTINA: 1. Diego Correa, 2. Juan Manuel Vivas, 3. Gael Galvan, 4. Efrain Elias (capt), 5. Felipe Bruno Schmidt, 6. Agustin Sarelli, 7. Juan Penoucos, 8. Ignacio Torrado; 9. Genaro Podesta, 10. Facundo Rodriguez; 11. Felipe Ledesma, 12. Tomas Medina, 13. Faustino Sanchez Valarolo, 14. Franco Rossetto; 15. Benjamin Elizalde. Reps: 16. Juan Greising Revol, 17. Renzo Martin, 18. Marcos Camerlinck, 19. Santos Fernandez de Oliveira, 20. Juan Pedro Bernasconi, 21. Jeronimo Llorens, 22. Santino di Lucca, 23 Timoteo Silva.

FIJI: 1. Mataiasi Tuisireli, 2. Moses Armstrong-Ravula, 3. Luke Nasau, 4. Nalani May, 5. Iliesa Erenavula, 6. Ebernezer Tuidraki, 7. Ratu Nemani Kurucake, 8. Simon Koroiyadi; 9. Samuela Ledua, 10. Ratu Isikeli Rabitu; 11. Waisake Salabiau, 12. Sivaniolo Kalaveti, 13. Harrison Valevatu, 14. Aisea Nawai; 15. Isikeli Basiyalo. Reps: 16. Iowane Vakadrigi, 17. Breyton Legge, 18. Elroy Macomber, 19. Malakai Masi, 20. Sakenasa Nalasi, 21. Josua Gonewai, 22. Bogidrau Kikau, 23. Ponipate Tuberi.


France (1) vs Wales (6)Pool A at Athlone (4:30pm, Ref: Neheun Jauri Rivero, UAR)
This is the second ‘cup final, winner takes all’ fixture on the Athlone schedule. France were devastated by Rico Simpson’s last-gasp penalty kick winner in Stellenbosch last Thursday, New Zealand winning 27-26, but all is definitely not lost in this French bid to win a fourth successive World Rugby U20 Championship title.

While they are currently third in the pool and can’t overtake the Baby Blacks leaders, who are expected to pile a load of points on against minnows Spain and finish as group winners, France know that a win over Wales should be good enough for them to progress as the best runner-up from the three pools.

They have made nine changes from the loss to New Zealand, whom they could face again in the semi-finals. Five alterations are in the pack where Corentin Mezou, Joe Quere Karaba and Mathis Castro-Ferreira are the repeat starters. In the backs, skipper Hugo Reus, midfielder Fabien Brau-Boirie and Mathis Ferte, who moves from wing to full-back, are the three retained.

Wales, who eased to a 31-10 win over Spain in round two, also make nine changes as they have selected most of the first-choice team that battled New Zealand in round one, securing two bonus points in that 34-41 loss. Jonny Green, skipper Ryan Woodman and No8 Morgan Morse are the three pack repeats, with out-half Harri Ford, midfielder Steffan Emanuel and full-back Matty Young in that same category in the backs.

It was nearly 18 weeks ago when the teams last clashed, the French winning comfortably 45-12 in Cardiff in the age-grade Six Nations. Wales were blown away in that first half, trailing 28-5, and while these starting XVs are much changed with the Welsh having seven of the same starters and the French just five, a positive start will be crucial to their Championship qualification prospects.

If victory is still a possibility coming down the finishing straight, there will be a chance that the French will blink and an upset result will materialise. However, France are fancied to win and go through to the semi-finals.

FRANCE: 1. Samuel Jean-Christophe, 2. Thomas Lacombre, 3. Thomas Duchene, 4. Charly Gambini, 5. Corentin Mezou, 6. Joe Quere Karaba, 7. Sialevailea Tolofua, 8. Mathis Castro-Ferreira; 9. Thomas Souverbie, 10. Hugo Reus (capt); 11. Hoani Bosmorin, 12. Robin Taccola, 13. Fabien Brau-Boirie, 14. Maxence Biasotto; 15. Mathis Ferte. Reps: 16. Mathys Lotrian, 17. Lino Julien, 18. Thomas Marceline, 19. Antonin Corso, 20. Geoffrey Malaterre, 21. Alexis Caumel, 22. Leo Carbonneau, 23. Axel Desperes-Rigou.

WALES: 1. Josh Morse, 2. Isaac Young, 3. Sam Scott, 4. Jonny Green, 5. Osian Thomas, 6. Ryan Woodman (capt), 7. Lucas De La Rua, 8. Morgan Morse; 9. Ieuan Davies, 10. Harri Ford; 11. Aidan Boschoff, 12. Steffan Emanuel, 13. Louie Hennessey, 14. Macs Page; 15. Matty Young. Reps: 16. Harry Thomas, 17. Jordan Morris, 18. Kian Hire, 19. Nick Thomas, 20. Owen Conquer, 21. Rhodri Lewis, 22. Harri Wilde, 23. Elijah Evans.

Georgia (8) vs Italy (11)Pool B at Stellenbosch (4:30pm, Ref: Takehito Namekawa, JRFU)
Georgia have been the unluckiest team at this Championship. They were swamped by Australia when a 20-minute red card expired, surrendering an 8-6 lead to lose 11-35. Then against Ireland they were 16-15 up in the final play where they agonisingly conceded a last gasp try and lost 16-22.

Rather than rotating players, they are going all out to get a positive result to bump them up the rankings as a dozen of the same starters versus the Irish are retaining here, including out-half Luka Tsirekidze who cruelly missed two late penalty kicks the last day.

Tornike Ganiashvili at blindside is their sole pack tweak, while the two backline changes are Otari Metreveli coming onto their left wing and Luka Takaishvili at full-back. Italy also make three changes, two in the pack and one out the back.

Skipper Jacopo Botturi, who featured off the bench in the ambush win over Australia, is restored to the No8 role with Giacomo Milano moving to blindside and Nelson Casartelli dropping to the bench. Nicholas Gasperini also rotates with Valerio Siciliano at hooker, while the sole backline switch sees Federico Zanandrea named on the right wing in place of Francesco Imberti.

It was round three last year where Italy failed to build on their game two shock win over Italy, losing to Georgia 17-30 in Stellenbosch. Now they face that same challenge of putting together back-to-back wins. They undoubtedly have the talent but with the Georgians anxious to finally get a result, this is primed to be a cracker of a clash even though neither team can qualify for the semis. We’ll go with the Eastern Europeans to edge it.

GEORGIA: 1. Luka Ungiadze, 2. Mikheil Khakhubia, 3. Davit Mtchedlidze, 4. Davit Lagvilava, 5. Temur Tsulukidze, 6. Tornike Ganiashvili, 7. Andro Dvali, 8. Nika Lomidze (capt); 9. Sandro Jigauri, 10. Luka Tsirekidze; 11. Otari Metreveli, 12. Giorgi Khaindrava, 13. Luka Kobauri, 14. Luka Keshelava; 15. Luka Takaishvili. Reps: 16. Tamaz Tchamiashvili, 17. Luka Kotorashvili, 18. Davit Kuntelia, 19. Murtazi Tskhadadze, 20. Shota Kheladze, 21. Mikheil Kachlavashvili, 22. Nugzari Kevkhishvili, 23. Tarieli Burtikashvili.

ITALY: 1. Sergio Pelliccioli,  2. Nicholas Gasperini, 3. Federico Pisani, 4. Samuele Mirenzi, 5. Piero Gritti, 6. Giacomo Milano, 7. Luca Bellucci, 8. Jacopo Botturi (capt); 9. Lorenzo Casilio, 10. Simone Brisighella; 11. Lorenzo Elettri, 12. Patrick de Villiers, 13. Nicola Bozzo, 14. Federico Zanandrea; 15. Mirko Belloni. Reps: 16. Valerio Siciliano, 17. Francesco Gentile, 18. Davide Ascari, 19. Mattia Midena, 20. Tommaso Redondi, 21. Nelson Casartelli, 22. Mattia Jimenez, 23. Marco Scalabrin.

South Africa (3) vs England (4)Pool C at Athlone (7pm, Ref: Federico Vedovelli, FIR)
South Africa have made six changes but curiously just three of those alterations are in a pack that left much to be desired when schooled the other night at rainy Stellenbosch. They were outclassed in that area, but five forwards have retained their starting place with loosehead Casper Badenhorst, lock Thomas Dyer and back row Sibabalwe Mahashe the fresh faces.

In the backs, the round three additions are Joshua Boulle, right winger Likhona Finca and full-back Michail Damon, who thankfully is recovered from getting taken away on a medical cart at the DHL Stadium in round one. That was following the incident where Fiji prop Luke Nasau went viral for his assistance to Damon before the medics raced on to help (click here to view).

England, whose progress at the Championship has been brilliantly told in the behind-the-scenes Embedded documentary series on RugbyPass TV, have made 11 changes having heavily rotated their team from the round one win over Argentina to the follow-up round two success versus Fiji.

Skipper Finn Carnduff is the only retained forward, while in the backs Ollie Allan and Benjamin Coen provide selection consistency at half-back and Ben Waghorn is a repeat midfield pick.

South Africa won last year’s bronze medal match 22-15 between these two countries, but the English are a far more cohesive unit this year. Having arrived in Cape Town as age-grade Six Nations champions, they are tipped to chalk up their third pool win, top the pool and move into the semi-finals as favourites with New Zealand for the Championship title.

SOUTH AFRICA: 1. Casper Badenhorst, 2. Luca Bakkes, 3. Zach Porthen (capt), 4. Thomas Dyer, 5. JF van Heerden, 6. Sibabalwe Mahashe, 7. Bathobele Hlekani, 8. Thabang Mphafi; 9. Asad Moos, 10. Liam Koen; 11. Lili Bester, 12. Joshua Boulle, 13. Jurenzo Julius, 14. Likhona Finca; 15. Michail Damon. Reps: 16. Ethan Bester, 17. Liyema Ntshanga, 18. Herman Lubbe, 19. Jaco Grobbelaar, 20. Tiaan Jacobs, 21. Divan Fuller, 22. Tylor Sefoor, 23. Phillip-Albert Van Niekerk.

ENGLAND: 1. Asher Opoku-Fordjour, 2. Craig Wright, 3. Billy Sela, 4. Joe Bailey, 5. Junior K’poku, 6. Finn Carnduff (capt), 7. Henry Pollock, 8. Nathan Michelow; 9. Ollie Allan, 10. Benjamin Coen; 11. Alex Wills, 12. Sean Kerr, 13. Ben Waghorn, 14. Jack Bracken, 15. Ben Redshaw. Reps: 16. James Isaacs, 17. James Halliwell, 18. Afolabi Fasogbon, 19. Olamide Sodeke, 20. Kane James, 21. Lucas Friday, 22. Angus Hall, 23. Ioan Jones.

New Zealand (7) vs Spain (12)Pool A at Stellenbosch (7pm, Ref: Reuben Keane, RA)
After winning a belter versus France in Stellenbosch, the Baby Blacks are back at Stellenbosch for a fixture they are expected to win by a wide margin. This difference in class between the countries has allowed New Zealand the luxury to rotate ahead of their semi-final.

Just six of the round two starters are on deck again, lock Tom Allen, blindside Andrew Smith and No8 Mosese Bason in the forwards and midfielders Xavi Taele, Xavier Tito-Harris and full-back Isaac Hutchinson in the backs.

The Spanish have also massively rotated, making a dozen changes to an XV that battled back against the Welsh in round two after a slow start that was a repeat of their slow-out-of-the-blocks round one effort versus France.

An entirely different starting pack has been named with a view to being more competitive in the more contestable rankings play-off semi-finals, while the three retained backs are out-half Gonzalo Otamendi, left wing Roberto Ponce and midfieler Yago Fernandez Vilar.

New Zealand secured a 62-19 win over Japan in round three of last year’s fixture against an U20 Championship minnow and they will be expected to enjoy a similarly comfortable margin of victory this time around.

NEW ZEALAND: 1. Senio Sanele, 2. A-One Lolofie, 3. Joshua Smith, 4. Tom Allen, 5. Cameron Christie, 6. Andrew Smith, 7. Matt Lowe, 8. Mosese Bason; 9. Ben O’Donovan, 10. Cooper Grant; 11. Frank Vaenuku, 12. Xavi Taele (capt), 13. Xavier Tito-Harris, 14. King Maxwell; 15. Isaac Hutchinson. Reps: 16. Manumaua Letiu, 17. Sika Uamaki, 18. Will Martin,19. Tai Cribb, 20. Jeremiah Collins, 21. Riley Williams, 22. Rico Simpson, 23. Aki Tuivailala.

SPAIN: 1. Alberto Gomez, 2. Pau Massoni, 3. Guido Reyes Rendon, 4. Martin Serrano, 5. Antonio Gamez, 6. Victor Ofojetu, 7. Daniel Velasco, 8. Valentino Rizzo; 9. Javier Lopez De Haro, 10. Gonzalo Otamendi; 11. Roberto Ponce, 12. Yago Fernandez Vilar (capt), 13. Unax Zuriarrain, 14. Javier Guillermo; 15. Gabriel Rocaries. Reps: 16. David Gallego, 17. Hugo Gonzalez, 18. Aniol Franch, 19. Adam Llinares, 20. Nicolas Moleti, 21. Nicolas Gali, 22. Luciano Richardis, 23. Julien Burguillos.

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Wonton 2 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

18 Go to comments
Nick 3 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

14 Go to comments
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