We take a look at the four teams in Pool A of the World Rugby U20 Championship 2016, which features defending champions New Zealand, Six Nations champions Wales, Ireland and the U20 Trophy 2015 winners Georgia.
Seeding for 2016: 1
Best finish: Champions (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015)
Worst finish: Fourth (2013)
U20 Championship match record: Played 40 / Won 34 / Lost 6
U20 Championship points / tries scored: 1,687 / 230
U20 graduates: 27
Most capped U20 graduate: Sam Whitelock (73 tests)
Did you know...? Ten members of New Zealand’s RWC 2015 winning side came through the U20 Championship pathway and all lifted that distinctive trophy as well.
Coach: Scott Robertson
Captain: Leni Apisai
One to watch: Jordie Barrett
One of New Zealand’s standout players in their recent Oceania Rugby U20 Championship series with Australia, Barrett is highly regarded by coach Scott Robertson for his kicking game while he has said his “run, catch, pass and vision is probably beyond his years”. The younger brother of RWC 2015 winner Beauden, he too is versatile and can play at fly-half, centre or full-back.
Seeding for 2016: 6
Best finish: Runners-up (2013)
Worst finish: Seventh (2010, 2011, 2014)
U20 Championship match record: Played 40 / Won 25 / Lost 15
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,058 / 123
U20 graduates: 32
Most capped U20 graduate: Sam Warburton (66 tests, including two for British and Irish Lions)
Did you know...? He may have barely played a test in the last 15 months but Leigh Halfpenny is still the U20 Championship graduate to have scored the most test points with 557 (49 for the British and Irish Lions).
Coach: Jason Strange
Captain: Tom Phillips
One to watch: Harrison Keddie
It is easy to see why Keddie has drawn comparisons with his fellow Dragons number eight Taulupe Faletau given his mix of pace, power and handling skills as well as his humility. A standout player during Wales’ Grand Slam success, starting all five matches and crossing for tries against England and Italy (twice), he is expected to make the battle for back-row spots in the senior Wales squad even more intense in the years to come.
Seeding for 2016: 7
Best finish: Fourth (2014)
Worst finish: Ninth (2008, 2010)
U20 match record: Played 40 / Won 19 / Lost 21
U20 points/tries scored: 905 / 95
U20 graduates: 24
Most capped U20 graduate: Conor Murray (49 tests, including two for British and Irish Lions)
Did you know...? In 2010, Ireland captain Rhys Ruddock became the only player to be called away from an U20 Championship to join up with the senior team. He duly made his debut against the Wallabies.
Coach: Nigel Carolan
Captain: James Ryan
One to watch: Paul Kiernan
The Munster U20 captain is the son of 1985 Triple Crown-winning hero Mike, but with his leadership qualities, will-to-win and physical attributes, he has a rich potential all of his own. He will hope to provide the cutting edge missing in Ireland’s midfield since Garry Ringrose came of age.
Seeding for 2016: 12 (World Rugby U20 Trophy 2015 winners)
U20 Championship match record: Played 0
U20 Trophy graduates: 23
Most capped U20 graduate: Lasha Khmaladze (44 tests)
Did you know...? Georgia U20 captain Vasil Lobzhanidze is the youngest player in Rugby World Cup history after appearing against Tonga aged 18 years and 340 days at England 2015
Coach: Ilia Maisuradze
Captain: Vasil Lobzhanidze
One to watch: Vasil Lobzhanidze (main picture)
With 15 tests to his name already, the scrum-half’s experience will be priceless to tournament newcomers Georgia as he returns to England for the first time since becoming the youngest player in Rugby World Cup history in a campaign which saw the Lelos win two matches for the first time. Nominated for World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year 2015 accolade, he now gets the chance to lead his country into new territory and his composure will be vital to those around him.