World Rugby U20 Trophy records were shattered as 372 points were scored on a dramatic opening day at Hive Stadium in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Japan began their quest to win a fourth World Rugby U20 Trophy title, setting the biggest team total in the history of the competition as they beat Hong Kong China 105-20. No fewer than 20 tries were scored in the match to get the 14th edition of the competition off to an entertaining and high-scoring start. 

But that points record, breaking a total that had stood the test of time for 15 years, lasted only a matter of hours as Scotland ran in 19 tries of their own to beat Samoa 123-15 to record the largest victory margin since the competition started in 2008, in a match that featured 21 touchdowns.

Things were somewhat tighter in Pool B. Uruguay, who were beaten by Spain in last year's final, had to work hard to get a bonus-point win against Kenya in the second match of the day, Los Teritos emerging with a 25-7 victory, and USA beat the Netherlands 44-33 in a fiercely competitive match to round off the opening day's action.

The previous record aggregate points for a single round was 327, from the second round of the tournament back in 2009.

The tournament continues on Sunday, 7 July when Uruguay and USA get proceedings underway at 11:45 local time (GMT+1), followed by Scotland v Hong Kong China at 14:30, Japan v Samoa at 17:15 and the Netherlands v Kenya at 19:45.

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Japan broke the record for most points scored in an U20 Trophy match as they comfortably brushed aside Hong Kong China in the competition's first all-Asian tie.

Naoya Okubo's team ran in 17 tries as they surpassed Namibia's 104-7 win against Cayman Islands in 2009 with a display of power and pace.

Right winger Kent Iioka was the star of the show with two tries in each half, while hooker Kenshin Shimizu also scored a hat-trick as Japan demonstrated they had multiple ways to score, out wide through the backs or in the close quarters up front.

Tight-head Towa Nunobiki began the scoring with only a minute on the clock and Japan had the try bonus point in the bag with 18 minutes gone after a brace from Iioka and a try from fellow wing Kohaku Ebisawa.

Full-back Jingo Takenoshita was the next to score as Japan established a 27-0 lead, before Hong Kong China's first meaningful foray into Japanese territory resulted in a try in the corner for number eight Dom Hedley.

Blake Elliot then kicked a penalty as Hong Kong China enjoyed their best spell of the half. However, normal service was soon resumed when loose-head Sojiro Otsuka crashed over from close range.

Left wing Marcus D'Acre hit a brilliant line to run in Hong Kong China's second try from 40 metres out but Japan had the final word in a free-scoring first half when Shimizu completed a full set of tries for the front row union.

Shimizu and Takenoshita scored their second tries of the match either side of Iioka's hat-trick try before replacement Rieto Ito got in on the act. Shimizu then crossed for a third time and Japan led 72-15 approaching the hour mark.

Japan refused to let the rain starting to fall from the leaden Edinburgh skies dampen their attacking instincts and tries from Nunobiki, Iioka, Daichi Yoshikawa and Chuka Ishibashi sent Japan's score into three figures.

Among the flurry of Japan scores, Justin Edan managed a third try for a well-beaten Hong Kong China, who wore black armbands in memory of Finlay MacDonald, a close friend of one of the players who passed away recently.


Relentless Scotland smashed the U20 Trophy points-scoring record Japan had set in the opening match of the day, as they kicked off their title challenge with a 123-15 win over Samoa at the Hive Stadium.

Winger Finlay Doyle and full-back Fergus Watson both scored hat-tricks, while hooker Jerry Blyth-Lafferty got two as Scotland ran in 19 tries, en route to the second century tally of the day, some 15 years after the tournament saw the 100-point barrier broken for the first time.

The game started on a sombre and respectful note, with a moment’s silence held for former Samoa U20 player Visesio Penitito, part of the squad that helped Junior Manu Samoa qualify for the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2024, who died recently.

It took the host nation 10 minutes or so to find their rhythm on a blustery afternoon, but once they had gone through the gears – their forwards gave them plenty of go-forward in the set-piece – they scored heavily, running in nine tries in the first half alone.

Powerful winger Doyle scored two in the first 40, and unselfishly created the opening for hard-working centre Johnny Ventisei to cross for the half-century of points towards the end of the opening half.

Scotland had already made efficient use of their dominance up front. A training ground lineout maul move ended up with second-row Ryan Burke powering round the corner for the game’s opening try. Hooker Jerry Blyth-Lafferty came up with the ball at the back of another dominant maul a few minutes later. His tight-head brother Ollie and loose-head Robbie Deans also got their names on the scoreboard in the first 40 – the latter doing a fair impression of a centre as he charged in from distance.

Scrum-half Conor McAlpine sniped over after his forwards had got close, Andrew McLean – who also kicked 12 conversions – slalomed through a static defence, and Fergus Watson finished off a scything move straight from kick-off, before Deans’ try took the score to 66-3 at the hooter.

Hooker Blyth-Lafferty bullocked over for his second with barely a minute of the second half on the clock.

Defiant Samoa worked hard, and showed they could stretch Scotland when they strung some phases together – but errors kept handing the advantage back to the hosts, allowing Doyle to race clear for his third, before second-row Totoa Auvaa wrestled his way over to give Junior Manu Samoa something to show for their efforts.

Scotland responded immediately, as Ruaraidh Hart forced his way over. Watson then went in for his second, and Callum Norrie broke the century before the clock passed 65 minutes.

Auvaa repeated his muscular try trick soon after, but captain Liam McConnell took the hosts past the points record Japan had set earlier in the day. And they weren’t finished. The rangy McConnell broke clear again to set up a score for Jack Hocking as Samoa tired, and Gavin Parry rounded off the festival of tries three minutes from time.


Last year’s losing finalists Uruguay made hard work of beating Kenya in the second match of the day, with the result still in doubt until Los Teritos scored two tries in the final quarter.

The only previous U20 Trophy meeting between the teams in Brazil in 2019 ended 63-11 to the South Americans but the Chipu class of 2024 put in a much-improved performance, one built on resolute defence and strong running in the wide channels.

With better handling and more composure in attacking positions, Kenya could have easily got more from what was a very competitive contest.

Muscular scrum-half Pedro Hoblog handed Uruguay an early lead when he darted over from close range in the 10th minute. But the floodgates did not open and Uruguay were only able to add three more points from the boot of Icaro Amarillo until inside-centre Alfonso Perillo took two defenders over the whitewash with him to score on the stroke of half-time.

No player was more deserving of a score as his ball carrying was a standout feature of the half. Amarillo converted for a 15-0 half-time lead.

Kenya’s rising penalty count had been noted by Swiss referee Ethan Glass and his patience eventually ran out in the 52nd minute when Perillo’s opposite number, Philip Okeyo was sin-binned for offside.

Still, Uruguay contrived to spurn gilt-edged chances to score and despite Los Teritos dominating field position and possession, it was Kenya who scored next, Okeyo’s centre partner Mike Wamalwa spinning through two tackles on a powerful run to the line with 56 minutes gone. 

Having failed to take advantage of Kenya’s yellow card, Uruguay turned to their bench men and replacement front-rowers Santiago Cagnone and Francisco Garcia secured them the win when it was back to 15 v 15.


USA survived a concerted second-half fightback from World Rugby U20 Trophy debutants the Netherlands to win the final match of the day 44-33.

Esher-based US flyer Keelan Farrell scored four first-half tries, his first coming after just 12 minutes as he benefited from Graeme Pedegana’s perfect handling of a two-on-one to give his wing space. Farrell went coast-to-coast for his second minutes later, after the Netherlands spilled the ball in a dangerous position of their own. 

After number eight Dylan Fortune barged through two defenders to finish a five-metre lineout move, Farrell arced inside past four static defenders for his hat-trick, and added his fourth from full-back Corbin Smith’s well-judged cross-kick on the stroke of half-time.

The Netherlands were far from overwhelmed by their first tournament outing, however. Back row Joris Smits burrowed through for two deserved tries in the opening 40 as they repeatedly challenged USA’s defence. 

But defensive frailties hurt them – just a minute before Farrell signed off the first-half scoring, Rand Santos bounced off several defenders to release Pedegana for USA’s fifth of the opening period.

At 41-12 at half-time, the game appeared over but the Netherlands had other ideas. Mart van der Veen crashed over early in the second period, just after Fortune saw yellow for a cynical infringement. And another period of Dutch pressure on the hour ended when Teun Karst scored off a quickly taken free-kick five metres from USA’s line as they closed the gap.

An Oliver Cline penalty 10 minutes from time calmed mountain any USA jitters, briefly, before Smits splintered their defence following a lineout with seven minutes on the clock to set up a tense finale to a fiercely competitive game.

Photos: SNS Group/World Rugby