• The 12 captains gathered at the top of Cape Town Stadium ahead of tournament kick-off on 29 June
  • Six matches to be played on the opening match-day with kick-off from 14:00 local time (GMT+2)
  • First international tournament to implement and trial new World Rugby Council approved laws
  • Matches can be watched anywhere in the world through broadcast partners or for free on RugbyPass TV

The 12 captains of the World Rugby U20 Championship participating teams gathered at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday with just three days to go until the start of the premier age-grade competition in South Africa.

The action kicks off at 14:00 local time (GMT+2) on 29 June with 2023 winners France taking on tournament debutants Spain in Pool A at Cape Town Stadium.

France Captain Hugo Reus said: "We have a big team and great players, so I think we can win it for the fourth time in a row. We have been preparing for the tournament since the beginning of the year and going to camps, so hopefully our preparation will help us go all the way. South Africa is a beautiful country and we’re very lucky to be back here again.”

Spain Captain Manex Ariceta added: "We’re all really excited because it’s the first time in the history of Spain that we are a part of this tournament. We look forward to all our matches and I think that we are going to play well.”

The other Pool A match will see Wales play six-time champions New Zealand at Athlone Stadium at 19:00 local time.

In an all-European encounter, 2023 runners-up Ireland will face Pool B opponents Italy, while Australia take on Georgia, who impressed in last year’s competition when they placed eighth – their highest finish in U20 Championship history. Both matches will kick-off at 16:30 local time.

Georgia Captain, Nika Lomidze said: “Our team has spent a long time together before coming to South Africa, so our preparation is very good for the tournament. We have great ambition this year because our team did very well last year, so we will work to do better than we did a year ago. We have a lot of players coming into the tournament for the first time so it has been difficult, but the senior guys have been helping them to get ready.”

In Pool C, the opening match of the day at Athlone Stadium will see Los Pumitas take on an England side that will be full of confidence after being crowned U20 Six Nations champions in March. The Junior Springboks bring the curtain down on the opening day at Cape Town Stadium when they play in front of their home fans against Fiji at 19:00 local time.

South Africa Captain Zachery Porthen added: “We have looked at our faults and things we struggled with at the U20 Rugby Championship in Australia, and we have been working hard to fix them. We have done quite a bit of training at camp the last three weeks. We look forward to having our home support cheering us on. That really helps us when things are not going your way. I’m a Cape Town boy, so it’s very special for me that I get to lead my team in my hometown.”

Each side will play three pool matches, with the winners and best runner-up across the pools progressing to the semi-finals to battle it out for a chance to play for the coverted trophy.

The tournament will also be the first global competition to feature World Rugby Council approved three global law amendments. In addition, six law trials will be implemented, which include the simplified red card sanction process and a revised TMO protocol trial.

For the first time, both competitions will operate the full Head Injury Assessment (HIA) process and all players will have access to smart mouthguards, under the World Rugby-funded player welfare initiative.

The full match schedule can be found here.

Fans around the globe can watch the action through local broadcast partners: South Africa (SuperSport), France (L’Équipe TV), New Zealand (Sky NZ) and Fiji (Fiji Broadcasting Corporation) – or for free on RugbyPass TV in markets without exclusive deals.