We take a look at the four teams in Pool A of the World Rugby U20 Championship 2017, which features defending champions England, Australia, Wales and the U20 Trophy 2016 winners Samoa.


Seeding for 2017: 1
Best finish: Champions (2013, 2014, 2016)
Worst finish: Seventh (2012)
U20 Championship match record: Played 45 / Won 35 / Lost 10
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,505 / 186

U20 graduates: 36
Most capped U20 graduate: Ben Youngs (72 tests, including two for the British and Irish Lions)

Did you know...? England have reached more U20 Championship finals than any other team with seven, one more than five-time champions New Zealand

Coach: Ian Vass
Captain: Zach Mercer

One to watch: Zach Mercer
A player unlucky not to find himself among the crop of U20 players heading to Argentina with the senior England squad next month after an impressive Six Nations campaign in which he started all five matches, scoring tries against Italy, Wales and Scotland, and led the side to victory in the Grand Slam decider in Dublin. Named the Rugby Players' Association Young Player of the Year 2017 earlier this month, Mercer is an elusive number eight with quick feet and even quicker hands and is clearly benefiting from training alongside Wales star Taulupe Faletau every day at Bath. This will be the second U20 Championship for Mercer, who turns 20 a few days after the tournament finishes.


Seeding for 2017: 6
Best finish: Runners-up (2010)
Worst finish: Eighth (2012)
U20 Championship match record: Played 45 / Won 27 / Lost 18
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,439 / 202

U20 graduates: 40
Most capped U20 graduate: James Slipper (86 tests)

Did you know...? Australia’s U20 graduates have accumulated more test caps than any other nation to date with 898 at the start of June 2017 with three of the seven players to have reached 70 caps being Wallabies.

Coach: Simon Cron
Captain: Reece Hewat 

One to watch: Henry Hutchison
A name new to the U20 arena but no stranger to international rugby having made his HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series debut as a 17-year-old in Cape Town in December 2015. Blessed with quick feet and plenty of pace, Hutchison was a revelation in his first season, scoring 27 tries to walk away with the Rookie of the Year accolade. An Olympian before his 20th birthday, Hutchison has crossed for 25 tries in his second series. He only linked up with the squad a few days before they headed to Georgia, so it will be interesting to see how quickly he can make the transition from sevens to 15s.


Seeding for 2017: 7
Best finish: Runners-up (2013)
Worst finish: Seventh (2010, 2011, 2014)
U20 Championship match record: Played 45 / Won 27 / Lost 18
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,164 / 137

U20 graduates: 35
Most capped U20 graduate: Sam Warburton (76 tests, including two for British and Irish Lions)

Did you know...? Sam Warburton is only the second player to captain the British and Irish Lions twice, after Martin Johnson in 1997 and 2001. Warburton led the Lions to a first series win since 1997 four years ago in Australia and next month faces the biggest test of all – against New Zealand. 

Coach: Jason Strange
Captain: Will Jones

One to watch: Rhys Carre
Tipping the scales at 128kg, loose-head prop Carre is one of the heaviest players in the U20 Championship. An ever-present for Wales during the U20 Six Nations, Carre is not only a formidable scrummager but also remarkably skilful for such a big man. The Cardiff Blues player will have learnt an enormous amount from Wales’ record cap holder Gethin Jenkins and, like his mentor, enjoys his fair share of ball carrying. 


Seeding for 2017: 12 (U20 Trophy 2016 winners)
Best finish: Seventh (2008, 2009)
Worst finish: 12th (2016)
U20 Championship match record: Played 35 / Won 11 / Lost 24
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 527 / 61

U20 graduates: 32 (25 from Championship and seven from Trophy)
Most capped U20 graduate: Fa’atoina Autagavaia (21 tests)

Did you know…? Samoan Alatasi Tupou was the first player to graduate from the U20 Championship to test rugby, making his debut against New Zealand on 3 September, 2008. He is now a key player for Samoa on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Coach: Mahonri Schwalger
Captain: Ivan Fepuleai

One to watch: Peato Toeafo
A second-row from Savaii, the largest island of Samoa but also the least populated, Toeafo has already worn the blue jersey of Samoa this year, having played for Samoa A in the World Rugby Pacific Challenge in March. That wasn't his first taste, though, as he also played for his country at the Commonwealth Youth Games on home soil in 2015. His age counted against him when he tried out for the U20 squad last year, but he went away and worked hard to return and earn selection for the class of 2017.The fact he is blessed with height, something Samoa haven't had in abudance in recent years, means he will be a player to nurture and keep an eye on in the years to come.

Who do you think will rise the top of Pool A or spring a surprise along the way? Join the conversation @WorldRugby using #WorldRugbyU20s.