Inaugural U20 Rugby Championship fixtures confirmed as Southern sides get ‘crucial prep’ for World Championship

Dylan Coetzee
New Zealand U20 and Australia U20 clash.

New Zealand U20 and Australia U20 clash.

The fixtures for the inaugural U20 Rugby Championship have been confirmed, with all the fixtures taking place at Sunshine Coast Stadium in Australia.

The format for the competition sees three rounds of action where all participating teams will play against each other once.

Historical first round

The first game of the tournament’s history will be played between South Africa U20 or the Junior Springboks and New Zealand U20 also known as the Baby Blacks on May 2 as part of a doubleheader completed by Australia U20 (Junior Wallabies) and Argentina U20 (Pumitas).

SANZAAR decided to introduce the tournament on the back of the Northern Hemisphere’s dominance in the U20 World Championship, with the last time a Southern team won in 2017 when the Baby Blacks claimed the title.

The tournament is ideal preparation for the global U20 showpiece, and Junior Springboks head coach Bafana Nhleko believes it will be crucial for his team’s development.

“We are demanding a lot from our group in terms of learning and application, and the players have responded well,” said Nhleko.

“They are aligning to the coaching, how we want to play, and what is required for them to perform at this level.

“Crucially for us, the U20 Rugby Championship will give us time to play against quality opposition, test the group combinations and help us identify the right guys before the final squad selection.

“The Championship will also help bridge the previous gap between the preparation period and the World Rugby U20 Championship. We are excited for this opportunity to play in Australia, which will be a great experience for the players and a fantastic opportunity for us to continue to grow as a group.”

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Talent pathway

Meanwhile, SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris outlined the concept behind the new championship.

“The TRC U20 Championship is an exciting investment and development strategy that will allow for a more defined pathway for younger players into senior and international rugby and provide a springboard into the annual World Rugby U20 Championship that is currently missing.

“This exposure to international matches against top-quality opposition can only benefit the players in terms of experience and adapting to the demands of top-level rugby. The tournament will also provide extra development opportunities for coaches, team management and match officials.”

Rugby Championship U20 schedule (local time)

Thursday, 2 May
17:00: South Africa U20 vs New Zealand U20
19:00: Australia U20 vs Argentina U20

Tuesday, 7 May
17:00: New Zealand U20 vs Argentina U20
19:00: South Africa U20 vs Australia U20

Sunday, 12 May
17:00: South Africa U20 vs Argentina U20
19:00: Australia U20 vs New Zealand U20

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