The World Rugby U20 Championship will kick off in France on Wednesday as the 12 teams battle it out to lift the trophy held by New Zealand.
The 2018 edition of the tournament promises to be the most competitive yet with New Zealand’s bid to successfully defend the title they won in Georgia last year set to come under fierce scrutiny from hosts France and former winners South Africa and England among others.
New Zealand will begin that title defence against Japan in Narbonne on Wednesday and captain Tom Christie, a member of that victorious team, is eager to get the tournament underway.
“Last year I think we got a lot right from a team point of view, so this year we are looking to repeat that but also create our own legacy as well. It’s always an honour to be a captain of a team, and when it involves the black jersey it just takes it to another level of honour and excitement,” Christie said.
“I am really looking forward to what this tournament is going to bring from both an individual point of view and for the team as well.”
Japan return to the Championship after winning the World Rugby U20 Trophy last year and captain Hisanobu Okayama is thankful for the opportunity their predecessors gave them to shine on the world stage before the nation hosts Rugby World Cup 2019.
“Last year the Japan team did really well in winning the Trophy and we are thankful to them for giving us this chance to come to the Championship,” said Okayama.
“We want to play great rugby this year and there are some really strong players in our squad. It is definitely possible that some of them will go on to play for the Japan senior team and play at the World Cup.”
The World Rugby U20 Championship 2018 takes place in Perpignan, Narbonne and Béziers from 30 May to 17 June and will unearth the next generation of test stars to follow in the footsteps of more than 570 players who have graduated from the premier age-grade tournament since it began in 2008.
World Rugby U20 Championship Pools
Pool A: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Wales
Pool B: Argentina, England, Italy, Scotland
Pool C: France, Georgia, Ireland, South Africa
Day One – Wednesday, May 30
South Africa v Georgia
Scotland v Italy
England v Argentina
France v Ireland
Australia v Wales
New Zealand v Japan
Day Two – Sunday, June 3
Scotland v Argentina
France v Georgia
Australia v Japan
England v Italy
New Zealand v Wales
South Africa v Ireland
Day Three – Thursday, June 7
Italy v Argentina
Wales v Japan
Ireland v Georgia
News Zealand v Australia
South Africa v France
England v Scotland