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U-20 Rugby World Cup: Final Day Of Matches Sees England Receive A Hiding

This year’s u-20 Rugby World Cup was important for a few reasons; it was hosted by Georgia, the first time the country have been the hosts of a major rugby competition; Scotland recorded their highest ever finish in the tournament (fifth); and New Zealand recorded another title in impressive fashion, beating England in the final by a record points margin and scoring the highest points tally by any team in the tournament’s history.

The final day of matches saw Samoa face Argentina to determine who would be given the wooden spoon. Los Pumitas secured the win in a high scoring affair which saw 14 tries scored in total (eight for the Argentinians, six for the Samoans) with the scores finishing at 53-42.

The ninth place play-off saw Georgia host Ireland in a nearly packed stadium roaring the Junior Lelos on. A tight contest, which saw a wonder-try from Georgian scrum-half Gela Aprasidze from inside his own half, highlighted the strength in depth which the Georgian Rugby Federation is nurturing. Ireland managed to pull through with a win providing a positive finish to what has been a disappointing tournament for the Boys in Green, the final score being 24-18.

Wales faced Italy in Tbilisi for seventh place, with the Italians providing some bruising defence to stop Wales unleashing their backs. With the score at 24-22 in the Italian’s favour with under 10 minutes to go, their blindside flanker Jacopo Bianchi took Wales fly-half Arwel Robson’s head clean off right in front of the posts, earning a red card and gifting the Welsh three points. The young Dragons held on to the lead to secure seventh place and prevent an upset.

Scotland faced Australia in a repeat of the previous day’s international match between the two sides. The young Scots kept the Australians at bay for most of the first half with a well organised defence, trailing just 10-3 at half time. The second half saw more points from both sides and for most of the half the scores were tied at 17-17. A scrum in front of the posts led to replacement scrum-half Charlie Shiel taking a half gap in the defence to score what the TMO adjudged to be a try, winning the match. The Australians will no doubt be annoyed by the call, as it appeared the Scottish tighthead held on to the Australian loosehead after the ball had left the scrum, preventing him from making a tackle.

The third place playoff had another repeat of a recent international as South Africa faced France, which was also a repeat of the first-round group match (which finished 23-23). The Baby Boks proved too physical and direct for the French this time around, and despite being 7-5 down at half time ran out 37-15 winners, with the forwards scoring four of their five tries.

England and New Zealand are the two most successful sides at this level of the game, with the sides meeting in the final on five occasions since the tournament began in 2008. The Baby Blacks had won the four finals before this year’s – an ominous sign for the English youngsters. The New Zealanders took the match by the scruff of its neck and were 40-7 up at half-time. The match finished at 64-17, with the Baby Blacks earning a highly deserved and record sixth World Championship at u-20 level. Players to watch out for from this squad include hooker Asafo Aumua (who scored a hat-trick in the final), winger Caleb Clarke, fly-half Tiaan Falcon and full back Will Jordan.

All-in-all, the tournament threw up a few surprises (Scotland finishing fifth, England being demolished in the final, Georgia beating Argentina), and highlighted Georgia’s passion for rugby and proved that in order to be the best at rugby, be a New Zealander.

Graham Manditsch, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.