We turn our attention to the four teams in Pool B at the World Rugby U20 Championship 2015 which features South Africa, Australia, Samoa and hosts Italy.
Seeding for 2015: 2
Best finish: Champions (2012)
Worst finish: Fifth (2011)
U20 Championship match record: Played 35 / Won 27 / Lost 8
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,427 / 194
U20 graduates: 15
Most capped U20 graduate: Patrick Lambie (40 tests)
Did you know...? Handré Pollard endured a whirlwind eight days in June 2014 as he went from heartbreak of losing the World Rugby U20 Championship final 21-20 to England and being named World Rugby Junior Player of the Year 2014 to the elation of making his Springbok debut against Scotland. By the end of 2014, the fly-half had played nine tests with the highlight of scoring two tries in a win over the All Blacks for a total of 62 test points.
Coach: Dawie Theron
Captain: Hanro Liebenberg
One to watch: Thomas du Toit
A loose-head prop with strong ball-carrying skills and powerful scrumming, the 20-year-old has two seasons of Super Rugby experience behind him with the Sharks and also had the honour of playing for the Barbarians against Australia last November. A U20 Championship runner-up in 2014, du Toit’s experience will be invaluable for the Junior Springboks in what is sure to a pool with plenty of physicality and power up front.
Seeding for 2015: 5
Best finish: Runners-up (2010)
Worst finish: Eighth (2012)
U20 Championship match record: Played 35 / Won 21 / Lost 14
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 1,182 / 167
U20 graduates: 31
Most capped U20 graduate: James Slipper (63 tests)
Did you know...? Australia’s U20 graduates have accumulated more test caps than any other nation to date with 579 at the start of June 2014.
Coach: Adrian Thompson
Captain: Andrew Kellaway
One to watch: Andrew Kellaway
He played on the wing in 2014 and has been used at outside centre so far in 2015, but wherever he plays his name is already written into the U20 Championship history books after his exploits in New Zealand last year when he scored a record 10 tries, beating the record for a single tournament held by All Blacks Julian Savea and Zac Guildford. Four of those tries came against Samoa last year, the fourth Australian to achieve that mark. The first try he scores in Italy will give him another record with the most tries by a player in U20 Championship history.
Seeding for 2015: 8
Best finish: Seventh (2008, 2009)
Worst finish: 12th (2010 – relegated to World Rugby U20 Trophy)
U20 Championship match record: Played 30 / Won 10 / Lost 20
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 436 / 51
U20 graduates: 22
Most capped U20 graduates: Jeremy Sua (15 tests)
Did you know...? The first player to graduate from the World Rugby U20 Championship to the test arena was Samoa’s Alatasi Tupou, who made his debut against New Zealand in September 2008. He is now a regular for Samoa on the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Coach: Semo Sititi
Captain: Joshua Dowsing
One to watch: Joshua Dowsing
A physical presence at the breakdown and an inspirational leader for the Samoa under-20s at the recent Oceania Rugby Junior Championship, Dowsing will instrumental to the side’s hopes of recording their best finish in the world championship. The back-row played in the same Waikato Juniors team as New Zealand captain Atunaisa Moli and the pair share a flat together, so will no doubt hope to come face-to-face on the pitch during the tournament.
Seeding for 2015: 11
Best finish: 11th (2008, 2011, 2014)
Worst finish: 13th (2009 – last year of 16 teams)
U20 Championship match record: Played 25 / Won7 / Lost 18
U20 Championship points / tries scored: 357 / 37
U20 graduates: 26 (22 from Championship and four from Trophy)
Most capped U20 graduate: Edoardo Gori (42 tests)
Did you know...? U20 Trophy graduate Luca Morisi is the ambassador for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy. He made his test debut in 2012 and has amassed 14 caps and scored two tries in total for the Azzurri.
Coach: Alessandro Troncon
Captain: Paolo Buonfiglio
One to watch: Renato Giammarioli
A strong ball carrier, the number eight is a powerful weapon for the Azzurrini and he stood out during this year’s Six Nations even in an Italian scrum that often struggled. He burst onto the scene in 2014-15, making his debut for Zebre in the European Rugby Challenge Cup against Oyonnax in January and then playing against Glasgow Warriors a few weeks later in the PRO12. This will be his second U20 Championship, having helped Italy to 11th place in 2014.