We take a look at the four teams in Pool A of the World Rugby U20 Championship 2019, which features defending champions France, hosts Argentina, Wales and World Rugby U20 Trophy 2018 winners Fiji.
Seeding for 2019: 1
Best finish: Champions (2018)
Worst finish: Ninth (2016)
U20 Championship match record: Played 55 / Won 36 / Drawn 1 / Lost 18
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,513 / 189
U20 graduates: 59
Most capped U20 graduate: Yoann Maestri (65 tests)
Did you know …? Two members of France’s victorious squad in 2018 have already gone on to make their test debuts in prop Demba Bamba and fly-half Romain Ntamack
Coach: Sébastien Piqueronies
One to watch: Jordan Joseph
The powerful number eight doesn’t turn 19 until 31 July, but this will be his second U20 Championship. Joseph was the youngest player in the 2018 edition but belied his 17 years of age to emerge as one of the stars of France’s victory on home soil, starting their final four games and scoring a double against South Africa. His performances saw him named Breakthrough Player of the Tournament and earned him a move to Racing 92. With a year’s Top 14 experience under his belt, no team will relish coming up against a back-row featuring Joseph.
Seeding for 2019: 6
Best finish: Third (2016)
Worst finish: 11th (2009, 2017)
U20 Championship match record: Played 55 / Won 27 / Lost 28
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,256 / 148
U20 graduates: 67
Most capped U20 graduate: Martín Landajo (83 tests)
Did you know …? Argentina were involved in the only kicking competition in U20 Championship history, beating Wales 9-8 to reach the fifth-place play-off in 2010
Coach: José Pellicena
Captain: Juan Pablo Castro
One to watch: Bautista Pedemonte
There must be something in the water at the Santiago Lawn Tennis Club, in the Argentine province of Santiago del Estero. Not a huge rugby centre, but certainly a proud one, it has produced loose forwards Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Facundo Isa and Tomás Lezana who are all named in the RWC 2019 training squad recently. Soon to follow them is barrel-chested number eight Bautista Pedemonte (pictured), who will play his second U20 Championship and is eligible for a third one. Strong as an ox, a Youth Olympic Games sevens gold medal is a testament to his mobility too.
Seeding for 2019: 7
Best finish: Runners-up (2013)
Worst finish: Seventh (2010, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2018)
U20 Championship match record: Played 55 / Won 32 / Lost 23
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,410 / 168
U20 graduates: 50
Most capped U20 graduate: Leigh Halfpenny (84 tests – 80 Wales, four British and Irish Lions)
Did you know …? Twenty-one U20 Championship graduates played their part in Wales winning the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2019
Coach: Gareth Williams
Captain: Dewi Lake
One to watch: Tommy Reffell
A powerful flanker who leads by example, Tommy Reffell captained Wales to seventh place in France last year and may well have been doing so again in Argentina were it not for a hamstring injury suffered in the opening U20 Six Nations match that ended his tournament. Having signed a new contract with Leicester Tigers in March, Wales will rely on the work ethic and experience of Reffell as they bid to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2013. He’ll certainly be in the thick of the action, having moved from the centre where he began to satisfy his appetite for rucks and contact!
Seeding for 2019: 12
Best finish: Sixth (2011)
Worst finish: 12th (2009, 2014)
U20 Championship match record: Played 35 / Won 8 / Lost 27
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 581 / 73
U20 graduates: 21 (18 from Championship and three from Trophy)
Most capped U20 graduate: Manasa Saulo (40 tests)
Did you know …? Fiji return to the U20 Championship for the first time since 2014 after winning the U20 Trophy in Romania last year, beating Samoa 58-8 in the final. Two try-scorers in that win have lit up the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this season, Vilimoni Botitu and Meli Derenalagi.
Coach: Kele Leawere
Captain: Tevita Ikanivere
One to watch: Caleb Muntz
A rising star in Fijian rugby, New Zealand-born Caleb Muntz hasn’t looked back since being spotted by former Fiji U20 coach Koli Sewabu playing in a World Schools Sevens tournament in New Zealand and invited to join their programme. Having converted from full-back to fly-half, Muntz has technical ability and a good positional sense and is already on the radar of Fiji coach John McKee after helping Fiji win the U20 Trophy in 2018 and the Fiji Warriors the World Rugby Pacific Challenge earlier this year.
Who do you think will rise the top of Pool A or spring a surprise along the way? Join the conversation @WorldRugby using #WorldRugbyU20s.