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World Rugby U20 Championship: Pool C team by team guide

By Liam Heagney
South Africa and Fiji scaled the heights at DHL Stadium last Wednesday, striking a pose on the roof (Photo by World Rugby)

Pool C at the World Rugby U20 Championship will pit England, the reigning Six Nations age-grade champions, against host nation South Africa, who finished second in the inaugural age-grade Rugby Championship that was held on the Australian Gold Coast.


It will be round three in Athlone on July 9 when that fancied duo – last year’s beaten semi-finalists – go head-to-head in an intriguing group that also contains a dangerous Argentina and a little-known Fiji. Here is the RugbyPass team by team guide to the World Rugby U20 Championship Pool C:

COACH: Bafana Nhleko;
CAPTAIN: Zachary Porthen;
LAST YEAR: Third. Scrapped into semi-finals on the head-to-head rule following shock pool loss to Italy but Ireland picked them off, leaving them playing for bronze versus England;
THIS YEAR: Second in The Rugby Championship, a round two loss to Australia a low point following an opening day draw with New Zealand;
FIXTURES: June 29 vs Fiji (Cape Town, 7pm), July 4 vs Argentina (Stellenbosch, 7pm), July 9 vs England (Athlone, 7pm);
ONE TO WATCH: JF van Heerden.

Video Spacer

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

Video Spacer

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

THEY SAY: “For us, it’s about excelling in our fundamentals, maintaining our strengths around playing from set-piece and being in a position to make the right decisions when there are opportunities. The contact area behaviours will be key on both sides of the ball” – Coach Nhleko.

WE SAY: The pressure is on even more than was the case last year as the iconic DHL Stadium has been added to the list of venues, bringing the tournament into the heart of the Mother City. South Africa will be expected to deliver but they couldn’t handle this host nation situation a year ago, playing too much with the handbrake on. Here’s hoping they won’t be as similarly blunt in their approach this time.

World Rugby U20 Championship
South Africa U20
57 - 7
Fiji U20
All Stats and Data

TRIVIA: South Africa have reached the semi-finals in every tournament bar 2011 when they finished fifth.

ROUND ONE TEAM: 1. Ruan Swart, 2. Luca Bakkes, 3. Zach Porthen (capt), 4. Bathobele Hlekani, 5. JF van Heerden, 6. Sibabalwe Mahashe, 7. Thabang Mphafi, 8. Tiaan Jacobs; 9. Asad Moos, 10. Liam Koen; 11. Lili Bester, 12. Joshua Boulle, 13. Jurenzo Julius, 14. Joel Leotlela, 15. Michail Damon. Reps: 16. Juan Smal, 17. Liyema Ntshanga, 18. Casper Badenhorst, 19. Keanu Coetsee, 20. Divan Fuller, 21. Ezekiel Ngobeni, 22. Tylor Sefoor, 23. Likhona Finca.


COACH: Mark Mapletoft;
CAPTAIN: Finn Carnduff;
LAST YEAR: Fourth after losing semi-final to France and then bronze match to South Africa;
THIS YEAR: Six Nations champions after an unbeaten campaign culminated in a draw with title rivals Ireland at Bath followed by a spectacular comeback win over the French in Pau;
FIXTURES: June 29 vs Argentina (Athlone, 2pm local), July 4 vs Fiji (Athlone, 4:30pm), July 9 vs South Africa (Athlone, 7pm);
ONE TO WATCH: Henry Pollock.

THEY SAY: “Our pool stage fixtures are an exciting bill of opponents with varying styles and approaches to the game that will test our capabilities in a short turnaround between matchdays. The players, staff and I are excited to make the country proud” – Coach Mapletoft.

WE SAY: Defeat last time out in Georgia can play to England’s advantage in the same way it did last year when a loss in Tbilisi was following by a gritty pool campaign that got them through to the semi-finals. They were immense when beating France in the Six Nations, their second-half display a showcase in how to entertain.

TRIVIA: Seven uncapped players have travelled, highlighting the England approach to keep shaking things up.


ROUND ONE TEAM: 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. Josh Bellamy; 11. Alex Wills, 12. Sean Kerr, 13. Oli Spencer, 14. Jack Bracken; 15. Ben Redshaw. Reps: 16. James Isaacs, 17. Cameron Miell, 18. Afolabi Fasogbon, 19. Olamide Sodeke, 20. Kane James, 21. Lucas Friday, 22. Benjamin Coen, 23. Ioan Jones.

COACH: Alvaro Galindo;
CAPTAIN: Elias Efrain;
LAST YEAR: Squeezed out trying to make the semi-finals by South Africa, whom they were leading at half-time in their final pool match. Ultimately had to settled for a disappointing ninth-place finish;
THIS YEAR: Third in the inaugural Rugby Championship. Defeated Australia in the opening round before falling to two defeats, the last one another narrow loss to South Africa;
FIXTURES: June 29 vs England (Athlone, 2pm), July 4 vs South Africa (Stellenbosch, 7pm), July 9 vs Fiji (Stellenbosch, 2pm);
ONE TO WATCH: Franco Rossetto.

THEY SAY: “Participating in the Championship was super important, especially to see the players in competition and to meet as a team beforehand, to see what thing that didn’t go well, what things did and where we can lean on. It was fundamental in the preparation.. and the objective now is clearly for all the players to compete and above all improve what we did last year” Coach Galindo.

WE SAY: They are a team well capable on their day of out-manoeuvring both England and South Africa, but discipline will be crucial if they are to cause an upset or two.

TRIVIA: Los Pumitas conceded a yellow card in each of their U20 Rugby Championship games, conceding an average of five points while they were short-handed.

ROUND ONE TEAM: 1. Diego Correa, 2. Juan Manuel Vivas, 3. Tomas Rapetti, 4. Efrain Elias (capt), 5. Alvaro Garcia Landolino, 6. Juan Penoucos, 7. Santos Fernandez de Oliveira, 8. Juan Pedro Bernasconi; 9. Genaro Podesta, 10. Santino Di Lucca; 11. Franco Rossetto, 12. Faustino Sanchez Valarolo, 13. Tomas Bocco, 14. Timoteo Silva, 15. Benjamin Elizalde. Reps: 16. Juan Greising Revol, 17. Joaquin Yakiche, 18. Gael Galvan, 19. Ignacio Torrado, 20. Agustin Sarelli, 21. Tomas Di Biase, 22. Facundo Rodriguez, 23. Gregorio Perez Pardo.

World Rugby U20 Championship
England U20
40 - 21
Argentina U20
All Stats and Data

FIJI (10)
COACH: Apisai Sailada;
CAPTAIN: Nelani May;
LAST YEAR: Had it tough in the pool but came good in the semi-final play-offs to finish 10th;
THIS YEAR: Enjoyed recent success in the Oceania tournament versus Pacific neighbours Tonga, Moana Pasifika and Samoa;
FIXTURES: June 29 vs South Africa (Cape Town, 7pm), July 4 vs England (Athlone, 4.30pm), July 9 vs Argentina (Stellenbosch, 2pm);
ONE TO WATCH: Aisea Nawai.

THEY SAY: “When they told us that there was a problem with our visas, we were disheartened at first, but we didn’t give up, we prayed and we read the bible and fasted and we thanked God for his guidance and giving us this opportunity to travel to Cape Town” Prop Anare Caginavanua.

WE SAY: Their staggered arrival in Cape Town could leave them underprepared; a dozen players had visa issues before being cleared to fly. They possess ball skills in abundance but set-piece is poised to be their undoing versus opposition that love to scrum and maul.

TRIVIA: Skipper May isn’t only adept at rugby as he has also been a national level basketball pick.

ROUND ONE TEAM: 1. Anare Caginavanua, 2. Moses Armstrong-Ravula, 3. Breyton Legge, 4. Iliesa Erenavula, 5. Nalani May (capt), 6. Ebernezer Tuidraki, 7. Ronald Sharma, 8. Simon Koroiyadi; 9. Aisea Nawai, 10. Bogidrau Kikau; 11. Avakuki Niusalelekitoga, 12. Ratu Isikeli Rabitu, 13. Sivaniolo Kalaveti, 14. Waisake Salabiau, 15. Isikeli Basiyalo. Reps: 16. Joshua Uluibau, 17. Mataiasi Tuisireli, 18. Luke Nasau, 19. Malakai Masi, 20. Ratu Nemani Kurucake, 21. Pauliasi Korobiau, 22. Ponipate Tuberi, 23. Joseva Ubitau.

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1 Comment
SteveD 22 days ago

Most overused word these days - ‘iconic’. It's just a stadium! But admittedly very nice.

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