The 2020 World Rugby U20 Championship pools and schedule have been announced, with Italy hosting the 13th edition of the championships.
The tournament moves a month later this year, beginning on the 28th June with the finals on the 18th July as France seek to make it a hat-trick of titles after backing up their 2018 title on home soil by winning in Argentina last year.
It will be Italy’s third time as hosts after they also hosted the tournament in 2011 and 2015, both tournaments were won by the competition’s most successful side, New Zealand, who have six World Rugby U20 Championship titles.
The tournament sees the twelve sides split into three groups of four, the winners of each group plus the best runner up will head to the main semi finals, with the remaining runners up and the best two third placed teams heading to the 5th-8th place semi finals.
The remaining third placed side and the three bottom placed sides from the group will head to the 9th-12th place semi finals. The side finishing 12th will be relegated to the World Rugby U20 Trophy and replaced by that tournament’s winner, a fate that befell Scotland last year, who are replaced for this year’s tournament by Japan.
The pools were drawn with the top three teams from last year’s tournament, France, Australia, and South Africa, seeded 1-3 for this year and put in separate groups. The remaining teams were then also seeded but alternating Northern Hemisphere – Southern Hemisphere to ensure an even split across the groups, Japan as the promoted side were considered as Southern Hemisphere for the purposes of the draw.
As champions, France are in Pool A and the draw sees them in a group with last year’s hosts, Argentina, as well as 2016 finalists, Ireland, and the newly promoted Japan.
Australia, meanwhile, are top seeds in a vicious looking Pool B, where they are joined by six time champions New Zealand, 2013 finalists, Wales, and the rapidly improving Georgia.
2012 champions South Africa are the top seeds in Pool C and are joined in that pool by three time champions England, who had reached six finals in a row prior to missing out on the main semi finals last year. Fiji and hosts Italy complete the pool, but it seems likely that the showdown Round 3 games between South Africa and England on Wednesday 8th July will be the key game here.
The pool games will be split between Verona’s Payanni Center, Viadana’s Stadio Sergio Zaffanella, and Calvisano’s Peroni Stadium, while the finals will be held in Parma.
Commenting on the Championships, World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said:
“Every year the World Rugby U20 Championship showcases the most promising young rugby players and we see year after year graduates from the competition succeeding at the highest level.’
“Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan featured 228 players who initially represented their country in this tournament and I invite all rugby fans to follow matches closely for the next rugby stars of tomorrow. ”Italy have proved incredible hosts in the past and we are confident rugby strongholds like Viadana, Calvisano, Verona and Parma will deliver the best possible stage for the tournament.”
World Rugby U20 Championships – 28th June to 18th July
|Pool A||Pool B||Pool C|
Sunday 28th June – Round 1
Argentina v Ireland – Pool A
France v Japan – Pool A
Australia v Georgia – Pool B
Wales v New Zealand – Pool B
England v Fiji – Pool C
South Africa v Italy – Pool C
Friday 3rd July – Round 2
Argentina v Japan – Pool A
France v Ireland – Pool A
Australia v New Zealand – Pool B
Wales v Georgia – Pool B
England v Italy – Pool C
South Africa v Fiji – Pool C
Wednesday 8th July – Round 3
France v Argentina – Pool A
Ireland v Japan – Pool A
Australia v Wales – Pool B
New Zealand v Georgia – Pool B
Fiji v Italy – Pool C
South Africa v England – Pool C
Monday 13th July – Semi Finals
Saturday 18th July – Finals