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World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final pairings confirmed

By Liam Heagney
Spain's Javier Guillermo tackles New Zealand's Cooper Grant (Photo by Nic Bothma/World Rugby)

Defending champions France will play New Zealand next Sunday in the semi-finals of the World Rugby U20 Championship just 10 days after they dramatically lost a pool match to the Baby Blacks with the last kick. Meanwhile, England will take on Ireland in the other semi-final following the outcome of match day three at the tournament in South Africa.


The French, who are looking to win their fourth World Championship in succession, knew that a bonus-point win over Wales would be enough to qualify them for the last-four as the sole best runner-up from the three tournament pools. They duly delivered in the 4:30pm Athlone kick-off, defeating Wales 29-11 in a Pool A match where they had the four-try bonus point in the bag with a 44th-minute score from No8 Mathis Castro-Ferreira.

That left them waiting on the outcome of the 7pm kick-offs to learn who they would play in the semi-finals and it turned out to be their pool rivals New Zealand, who last week beat them 27-26 with an 80th-minute Rico Simpson penalty kick in Stellenbosch.

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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

The Kiwis had the four-try bonus point registered as early as the 20th-minute against Spain. The match was abandoned at half-time due to the weather with the score at 45-13, leaving New Zealand to secure the Pool A top spot and also earn the No1 semi-final seeding as England’s late, late win over the Junior Boks came without a four-try bonus.

England’s match in Athlone was set to end in a draw, which would still have been enough for them to finish as Pool C winners, but they showed incredible patience to score an 86th-minute try through sub James Isaacs to grab the 17-12 win that left them seeded second for the semi-finals.


They will now take on third seed Ireland, who were confirmed as Pool B winners without having to kick a ball. Their scheduled 2pm match versus top-spot rivals Australia was cancelled due to the pitch being declared unplayable at that time following a terrible morning of winter weather in the Cape Town region.

With the game off, both teams were awarded two match points each and that left Ireland on top of the pool with 11 points and the Australians finishing second with eight. Tuesday’s other Pool B result was Georgia 28 Italy 17, while the remaining game in Pool C ended Argentina 52 Fiji 12.


World Rugby U20 Championship match day four schedule – Sunday, June 14
Championship semi-finals: New Zealand (1) vs France (4) – Cape Town Stadium, 7pm; England (2) vs Ireland (3) – Cape Town Stadium, 4:30pm;

Fifth to eighth place semi-finals: Argentina (5) vs South Africa (8) – Cape Town Stadium, 2pm; Australia (6) vs Wales (7) – Stellenbosch, 7pm;

Ninth to 12th place semi-finals: Georgia (9) vs Fiji (12) – Stellenbosch, 4:30pm; Italy (10) vs Spain (11) – Stellenbosch, 2pm.

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Turlough 11 days ago

With only 4 to qualify the U20 pools can throw up a very hazardous 2nd pool match for qualification contenders. Say a contender (won first pool match) plays a decent team who lost the first pool match. The team who lost are in a do or die situation. They MUST win, against a superior opponent. Its EVERYTHING INTO THE FIRE. Now look at the contender, their attitude is to MANAGE a win.
What is the result of this mismatch in attitude?
Argentina beat SA, Italy beat Australia and Ireland survived with last gasp injury time score against Georgia.
Lessons for managers but interesting to observe how important the attitude that’s occupying the team ‘hive mind' can be to a result.

Andrew 12 days ago

Gee. Meeting France again? Some reward for finishing top?

Turlough 12 days ago

England-SA was a tough, wet, great match. England’s determination to win was exceptional. Irish supporter but England are a real real team. Reminiscent of the adaptive rolling decision making of the great 2003 senior team. Ireland drew with them away in the 6N but England have improved.
The only caveat is that England may have more of a fatigue issue as Ireland/Australia match was called off.
In the other semi I think NZ might not have wanted to see France again so soon after their narrow win. Should be a great match but they will have France’s full attention and best perfromance this time.
England-France final and anyone’s guess then.

Benn 12 days ago

The baby blacks v Spain match was abandoned at half time due to the weather

Dave 12 days ago

Any reason rugby pass TV isn't playing the full under 20s game at least until half time All Blacks v Spain??

Troy 12 days ago

Well done to the entire set up for clawing back some credibility at this level. We've not given due respect in the recent past and lost our mana internationally because of it. They appeared to have learnt their lesson and are back at the top echelon of this age group.
Let's go Black.

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Wonton 2 hours ago
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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.

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Nick 3 hours ago
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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.

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