After three exciting rounds of group game, the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship semi final line ups are now decided.
Unsurprisingly the only three sides ever to have won the competition have all made it through to the main semi finals, New Zealand, South Africa, and England. However South Africa had to rely on bonus points to make it after their defeat in the final group game to France, who qualify for the semi finals as third seeds after winning Group C.
England qualified as top seeds, they beat Scotland 35-10 in their final group game, featuring six tries with Joe Kpoku, late call up Matt Williams, Beck Cutting, and James Scott all on the scoresheet alongside a superbly finished brace from Gabriel Ibitoye.
That left them as the only side in the competition with a perfect 15 points out of a possible 15, sending them through as top seeds.
They will face South Africa, who were torn apart by a stunning French performance. France were simply outstanding in the first half and in Jordan Joseph they have an absolute gem of a player. The second half was a little closer but France were still in charge for a quite brilliant 46-29 victory.
It means that France, who finished on 14 points, will meet New Zealand, who also had 14 points, in the other semi final after New Zealand topped Pool A following a tough game against Australia. They won it 27-18 but were given by far their sternest test of the Championships to date.
One of the biggest stories to emerge was that Italy were just a bonus point away from making it through to the main semi finals. As it goes though they will be top seeds in the 5th-8th place semi finals after their 30-26 defeat of Argentina coupled with that late round 1 victory over Scotland left them on ten points.
They will face Australia, who finished third in Group A following defeat to New Zealand on Thursday night and Wales in the opening round. Wales meanwhile finished second in that group but were given an almighty scare by Japan on Thursday night, just sneaking to victory by a single point at 18-17.
Second place sets Wales up for a 5th-8th place semi final against Argentina though. The young Jaguares made it through from third in Group B after that impressive win against Scotland in round 2 and strong performances against Italy and England.
For Scotland though those three defeats mean a place in the dreaded relegation semi finals, or the 9th-12th place semi finals. The side finishing 12th will be relegated to the World Rugby U20 Trophy for next year.
Scotland face Ireland, for whom injury has been a real menace. It was no excuse on Thursday night though when they were sunk 24-20 by Georgia. This Georgia side has been a threat all tournament and the only shame is that their victory was not enough to see them into the mid-range semi finals.
The Georgians will face Japan, who finished bottom of Group A, the good news for Georgia though is that on form they should beat Japan and in doing so guarantee their place for next year. For Ireland and Scotland though, this will be a nervy semi final, the loser will be in that relegation play off game.
At the top end of the competition though, things look exciting. France’s stunning performance sees them in with a real chance of becoming just the fourth side to win the title, particularly given their home advantage. England, New Zealand, and South Africa will be flying into these semi finals with all guns blazing though. It ought to be a cracking round of games.
World Rugby U20 Championship Results:
Wales 18-17 Japan
New Zealand 27-18 Australia
Italy 30-26 Argentina
England 35-10 Scotland
Ireland 20-24 Georgia
South Africa 29-46 France
Australia 54-19 Japan
New Zealand 42-10 Wales
Argentina 29-13 Scotland
England 43-5 Italy
France 24-12 Georgia
South Africa 30-17 Ireland
New Zealand 67-0 Japan
Wales 26-21 Australia
England 39-18 Argentina
Italy 27-26 Scotland
France 26-24 Ireland
South Africa 33-27 Georgia
World Rugby U20 Championship Fixtures (All times BST):
Semi Finals – Tuesday 12th June
2nd New Zealand v 3rd France – 6pm, Narbonne
1st England v 4th South Africa – 8pm, Perpignan
6th Wales v 7th Argentina – 1pm, Narbonne
5th Italy v 8th Australia – 3.30pm, Narbonne
10th Ireland v 11th Scotland – 3pm, Perpignan
9th Georgia v 12th Japan – 5.30pm, Perpignan
Finals – Sunday 17th June
11th Place Play Off – 10am, Beziers
9th Place Play Off – 12.30pm, Beziers
5th Place Play Off – 1pm, Beziers
7th Place Play Off – 3pm, Beziers
3rd Place Play Off – 3.30pm, Beziers
Final – 6pm, Beziers