Samoa sealed their return to the World Rugby U20 Championship for 2017 after winning the second tier competition, the World Rugby U20 Trophy, on Sunday.
The winner of the tournament replaces the side who finish bottom in the U20 Championship this June, Samoa were bottom of the pile last year hence their place in the Trophy tournament, while Georgia won last year’s Trophy and compete in the senior tournament in Manchester next month.
Samoa sealed their return in dramatic style though, coming from behind against a Spain side who were among the most entertaining in the competition and who for so long looked like causing an upset in this final.
Zimbabwe hosted the tournament, with the final held at the Harare Sports Club, but ended up finishing last after finishing bottom of their pool and then losing a thrilling 7th place play-off to Hong Kong, which finished 44-40 in the Asian side’s favour.
Third place went to Fiji, who had finished behind Samoa in Pool A but beat Namibia, 2nd in Pool B behind Spain, in yet another thriller. It finished 44-30 in the South Sea Islanders favour. Fiji were led by the former England U18 international and Shiplake College leaver Fili Savou, one of two Shiplake College leavers in the tournament, with Ruari Van Raalt, who was a member of last year’s ISRFC Lambs squad, playing for the USA.
His USA side finished in 5th place after a thrilling play-off against Uruguay, which the US won by a narrow 32-30 margin.
The entire final round of games was simply wall to wall entertainment, and the final between Spain and Samoa was no less so.
Spain led by eight points with nine minutes left on the clock, and were staring an unlikely place in next year’s U20 World Championship in the face.
Samoan number 8 Elia Elia, a colossus all day, refused to accept defeat though and powered over for his hat-trick try before Tivoli Masaga, with the clock deep in the red, sealed a last gasp dramatic victory for the Pool A winners, giving them a 38-32 victory.
World Rugby U20 Trophy Results:
Samoa 38-32 Spain
3rd Place Play-off
Fiji 44-30 Namibia
5th Place Play-off
USA 32-30 Uruguay
7th Place Play-off
Hong Kong 44-40 Zimbabwe
|World Rugby U20 Trophy Group A Final Standings|
|World Rugby U20 Trophy Group B Final Standings|