South Africa and New Zealand secure prestigious U20s titles
The Junior Springboks are crowned Six Nations U20 Summer Series champions, while New Zealand U20s win the Oceania Rugby U20s Championship.
The World Rugby-backed Six Nations U20 Summer Series and Oceania Rugby U20 Championship have come to a conclusion with wins for South Africa and New Zealand.
South Africa went through the Summer Series unbeaten, securing the title with a 47-27 win in the final over Wales, while New Zealand enjoyed an even more comprehensive 69-12 win over their Australian U20 counterparts in the Oceania tournament.
With the World Rugby U20 Championship and World Rugby U20 Trophy not returning until 2023 following three cancelled editions due to COVID-19, both tournaments gave the best men’s age-grade players in the world a much-needed chance to shine against international opposition.
Nine teams who regularly play in the World Rugby U20 Championship were involved across both tournaments and some of the rugby on show was of a very high standard, with new stars of the future emerging.
Under Otago coach Tom Donnelly, New Zealand won all three of their games, 74-5 v Fiji, 32-9 v Argentina, before a record 69-12 victory against 13-man Australia saw them round off a successful reintroduction to international age-grade rugby.
In claiming their fifth Oceania U20 title, plenty of young players caught the eye, with hard-working Crusaders hooker and captain George Bell, a hat-trick hero against Australia, one of the standouts.
Argentina finished as runners-up after a 61-5 win against Fiji, who conceded one red card compared to Australia’s two.
Amongst Los Pumitas’ try-scorers was scrum-half Mateo Albanese, the son of former Pumas winger and RWC 1999 hero, Diego Albanese.
- New Zealand
Round 1: New Zealand 74-5 Fiji; Australia 21-24 Argentina
Round 2: New Zealand 32-9 Argentina; Australia 58-5 Fiji
Round 3: Fiji 5-61 Argentina; Australia 12-69 New Zealand
Junior Springboks go unbeaten
Eight teams travelled to northern Italy to take part in the Six Nations U20 Summer Series, and it was the Junior Springboks who came out on top, going through the tournament with an unblemished record of four wins from four.
Wins over England (30-22), Six Nations U20 Grand Slam champions Ireland (33-24) and the current World Rugby U20 Championship title holders France (42-27) saw South Africa claim top spot in Pool A and a place in the final against Wales.
After beginning their campaign with an impressive 45-15 win over Scotland, Wales showed great resilience to beat Georgia 30-24 and Italy 23-20.
While no doubt disappointed to miss out on the final, Italy bounced back from that setback on Finals Day with a 38-31 win against England in the bronze medal match.
It was Italy’s second U20s win over England this year, having previously never beaten them at this level before.
Georgia also emerged from the tournament with plenty of credit. Having come so close to upsetting Wales, they did a number on Scotland in the third round of pool play, coming back from 12-0 down to win 55-17.
The Junior Lelos had to settle for sixth place overall, though, losing to France 44-17 on Finals Day.
Meanwhile, Ireland were spared the ignominy of going from Grand Slam winners to wooden spoonists by winning their final match 41-24 against Scotland.
In the final, contested by the tournament’s two unbeaten teams, it quickly became apparent there was only going to be one winner.
A hat-trick of tries from Tiaan Lange, Suleiman Hartzenberg’s double plus tries for Louw Nel and Ethan James gave the classy Junior Boks a comfortable victory in Treviso to round off a supremely successful few weeks in Italy.
Finding themselves 26-3 down on the scoreboard, Wales rallied in the second half, scoring tries through Mason Grady, Joe Westwood, Ethan Fackrell and Cameron Jones but the night belonged to the Junior Boks.
- South Africa
Round 1: England 22-30 South Africa; France 42-21 Ireland; Scotland 15-45 Georgia; Italy 36-19 Georgia
Round 2: France 20-29 England; Ireland 24-33 South Africa; Wales 30-24 Georgia 24; Scotland 14-34 Italy
Round 3: France 27-42 South Africa; Ireland 37-36 England; Scotland 17-55 Georgia; wales 23-20 Italy
Finals Day: Ireland 41-24 Scotland; France 44-17 Georgia; England 31-38 Italy; South Africa 47-27 Wales