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Under-20 Championship, Round Three - Teams and Predictions

PREVIEW: South Africa faces England in a do-or-die face-off at the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Tuesday – Round Three of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.


England are currently top of Pool C with 10 points after triumphs over Argentina (41-20) and Fiji (48-11).

They will be seeking victory to guarantee a place in the semifinals.

Following Argentina’s 31-12 win over South Africa this past Thursday, Los Pumitas and the Baby Boks are level on five points apiece.

England have won eight of the previous 12 meetings against South Africa in the World Rugby Championship, with Tuesday’s fixture the first pool stage meeting in 11 years.

Ten of the 12 meetings have been decided by less than 10 points.

The Baby Boks team that crashed in spectacular fashion against Argentina shows several changes.


Likhona Finca will make his debut for the SA at right wing, while Herman Lubbe (tighthead prop) is set to earn his first Junior Bok cap off the bench.

Finca’s inclusion, in the place of Joel Leotlela in the No.14 jersey, is one of three changes amongst backs.

Michail Damon is back in the starting line-up, as fullback in place of Bruce Sherwood, while Josh Boulle got the nod at inside centre over Phillip-Albert van Niekerk.

The pack of forwards show a further four changes.


Casper Badenhorst rotates at loosehead prop with Ruan Swart, Thomas Dyer will start at lock, with Jaco Grobbelaar named on the bench, Sibabalwe Mahashe moves up from the bench and will start at flank, while Thabang Mphafi moves from the side of the scrum to No.8.

Junior Boks coach Bafana Nhleko said his team realises the magnitude of Tuesday’s game and they are ready for the big battle, having put the Argentina disappointment firmly them.

“For us it was about getting stuck into our processes and fixing a few areas from the Argentina game, ensuring we get our energy and focus back, for what is an important game for us,” said Nhleko.

“We are mentally prepared and know the scale of this encounter and we are ready to meet the challenge of an England side that’s full of confidence following two wins.

“The players pride themselves on representing South Africa and they want to deliver an improved performance.”

England coach Mark Mapletoft has also revealed his team.

Mapletoft has made 11 changes from the starting XV that defeated Fiji, showcasing the strength in depth of his squad.

Jack Bracken returns to the side after a hat-trick on debut against Argentina on Matchday One.

Under-20 Six Nations Player of the Tournament Henry Pollock regains his place as openside flank.

Finn Carnduff continues to lead as captain, while Ollie Allan and Ben Coen remain as Mapletoft’s chosen half-back combination.

Mapletoft and assistant coach Andy Titterrell’s starting XV have 109 caps to their name.

Forward Harvey Cuckson suffered an injury against Fiji and will be replaced in the 30-man squad by Tom Burrow, who captained the side in a friendly against Coventry earlier this year as well as the U19 Men in their two 2024 Tests.

“Whilst still needing to refine parts of our game, the team have built momentum excellently coming into Matchday Three with two results we’re proud of,” Mapletoft said.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed with the resolve and mental attitude of our team, they have rewarded our trust in selection throughout both games.

“Relentlessness in our processes has been a key pillar of our tournament so far.

“Playing South Africa on home turf is no easy feat, and we’re under no illusions of the magnitude of what awaits us.

“The boys know what is at stake, and they will enjoy that, but focus remains firmly on the task at hand when showtime rolls around on Tuesday.”

* New Zealand sit at the top of Pool A with two bonus point wins and face Spain.

It will be the first time the teams have met at an Under-20 championship.

Xavi Taele will captain the New Zealand side from inside centre, with Vernon Bason sitting out the final pool match.

All the Round Three teams and predictions follow below

Tuesday, July 9

Ireland v Australia
(Athlone Sports Stadium, Cape Town – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 UK time; 22.00 AEST)


@rugby365com: Ireland by nine points


Ireland: 15 Ben O’Connor, 14 Finn Treacy, 13 Wilhelm de Klerk, 12 Hugh Gavin, 11 Hugo McLaughlin, 10 Jack Murphy, 9 Oliver Coffey, 8 Brian Gleeson (captain), 7 Bryn Ward, 6 James McKillop, 5 Alan Spicer, 4 Billy Corrigan, 3 Patreece Bell, 2 Danny Sheahan, 1 Emmet Calvey.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Smyth, 17 Jacob Boyd, 18 Andrew Sparrow, 19 Sean Edogbo, 20 Max Flynn, 21 Tadhg Brophy, 22 Sean Naughton, 23 Davy Colbert.

Australia: 15 Shane Wilcox, 14 Archie Saunders, 13 Kadin Pritchard, 12 Jarrah McLeod, 11 Ronan Leahy, 10 Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, 9 Dan Nelson, 8 Jack Harley, 7 Dane Sawers, 6 Aden Ekanayake, 5 Ollie McCrea, 4 Toby Macpherson (captain), 3 Nick Bloomfield, 2 Ottavio Tuipulotu, 1 Lington Ieli.
Replacements: 16 Bryn Edwards, 17 Nathaniel Tiitii, 18 Trevor King, 19 Eamon Doyle, 20 Austin Durbidge, 21 Dominic Thygesen, 22 Billy Dickens, 23 Boston Fakafanua.

Referee: Takehito Namekawa (Japan)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones & Saba Abulashvili
TMO: Ian Tempest

Argentina v Fiji
(Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch – Kick-off: 14.00; 09.00 Argentina time; 00.00, Wednesday, July 10 Fiji time)


@rugby365com: Argentina by 35 points


Argentina: 15 Benjamin Elizalde, 14 Franco Rossetto, 13 Faustino Sanchez Valarolo, 12 Tomas Medina, 11 Felipe Ledesma, 10 Facundo Rodriguez, 9 Genaro Podesta, 8 Ignacio Torrado, 7 Juan Penoucos, 6 Agustin Sarelli, 5 Felipe Bruno Schmidt, 4 Efrain Elias (captain), 3 Gael Galvan, 2 Juan Manuel Vivas, 1 Diego Correa.
Replacements: 16 Juan Greising Revol, 17 Renzo Martin, 18 Marcos Camerlinck, 19 Santos Fernandez de Oliveira, 20 Juan Pedro Bernasconi, 21 Jeronimo Llorens, 22 Santino di Lucca, 23 Timoteo Silva.

Fiji: 15 Isikeli Basiyalo, 14 Aisea Nawai, 13 Harrison Valevatu, 12 Sivaniolo Kalaveti, 11 Waisake Salabiau, 10 Ratu Isikeli Rabitu, 9 Samuela Ledua, 8 Simon Koroiyadi, 7 Ratu Nemani Kurucake, 6 Ebernezer Tuidraki, 5 Iliesa Erenavula, 4 Nalani May, 3 Luke Nasau, 2 Moses Armstrong-Ravula, 1 Mataiasi Tuisireli.
Replacements: 16 Iowane Vakadrigi, 17 Breyton Legge, 18 Elroy Macomber, 19 Malakai Masi, 20 Sakenasa Nalasi, 21 Josua Gonewai, 22 Bogidrau Kikau, 23 Ponipate Tuberi.

Referee: Sam Grove White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron & AJ Jacobs
TMO: Mark Patton

France v Wales
(Athlone Sports Stadium, Cape Town – kick-off: 16.30; 16.30 France time; 15.30 UK time)


@rugby365com: France by 12 points


France: 15 Mathis Ferte, 14 Maxence Biasotto, 13 Fabien Brau-Boirie, 12 Robin Taccola, 11 Hoani Bosmorin, 10 Hugo Reus (captain), 9 Thomas Souverbie, 8 Mathis Castro-Ferreira, 7 Sialevailea Tolofua, 6 Joe Quere Karaba, 5 Corentin Mezou, 4 Charly Gambini, 3 Thomas Duchene, 2 Thomas Lacombre, 1 Samuel Jean-Christophe.
Replacements: 16 Mathys Lotrian, 17 Lino Julien, 18 Thomas Marceline, 19 Antonin Corso, 20 Geoffrey Malaterre, 21 Alexis Caumel, 22 Leo Carbonneau, 23 Axel Desperes-Rigou.

Wales: 15 Matty Young, 14 Macs Page, 13 Louie Hennessey, 12 Steffan Emanuel, 11 Aidan Boshoff, 10 Harri Ford, 9 Ieuan Davies, 8 Morgan Morse, 7 Lucas De La Rua, 6 Ryan Woodman (captain), 5 Osian Thomas, 4 Jonny Green, 3 Sam Scott, 2 Isaac Young, 1 Josh Morse.
Replacements: 16 Harry Thomas, 17 Jordan Morris, 18 Kian Hire, 19 Nick Thomas, 20 Owen Conquer, 21 Rhodri Lewis, 22 Harri Wilde, 23 Elijah Evans.

Referee: Neheun Jauri Rivero (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Saba Abulashvili & Christopher Allison
TMO: Matteo Liperini

Georgia v Italy
(Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch – Kick-off: 16.30; 18.30 Georgia time; 14.30 Italy time)


@rugby365com: Georgia by seven points


Georgia: 15 Luka Takaishvili, 14 Luka Keshelava, 13 Luka Kobauri, 12 Giorgi Khaindrava, 11 Otari Metreveli, 10 Luka Tsirekidze, 9 Sandro Jigauri, 8 Nika Lomidze (captain), 7 Andro Dvali, 6 Tornike Ganiashvili, 5 Temur Tsulukidze, 4 Davit Lagvilava, 3 Davit Mtchedlidze, 2 Mikheil Khakhubia, 1 Luka Ungiadze.
Replacements: 16 Tamaz Tchamiashvili, 17 Luka Kotorashvili, 18 Davit Kuntelia, 19 Murtazi Tskhadadze, 20 Shota Kheladze, 21 Mikheil Kachlavashvili, 22 Nugzari Kevkhishvili, 23 Tarieli Burtikashvili.

Italy: 15 Mirko Belloni, 14 Federico Zanandrea, 13 Nicola Bozzo, 12 Patrick de Villiers, 11 Lorenzo Elettri, 10 Simone Brisighella, 9 Lorenzo Casilio, 8 Jacopo Botturi (captain), 7 Luca Bellucci, 6 Giacomo Milano, 5 Piero Gritti, 4 Samuele Mirenzi, 3 Federico Pisani, 2 Nicholas Gasperini, 1 Sergio Pelliccioli.
Replacements: 16 Valerio Siciliano, 17 Francesco Gentile, 18 Davide Ascari, 19 Mattia Midena, 20 Tommaso Redondi, 21 Nelson Casartelli, 22 Mattia Jimenez, 23 Marco Scalabrin.

Referee: Morné Ferreira (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron & Griffin Colby
TMO: Mike Adamson

South Africa v England
(Athlone Sports Stadium, Cape Town – Kick-off: 19.00; 18.00 UK time)


@rugby365com: England by 18 points


South Africa: 15 Michail Damon, 14 Likhona Finca, 13 Jurenzo Julius , 12 Joshua Boulle, 11 Litelihle Bester, 10 Liam Koen, 9 Asad Moos, 8 Thabang Mphafi, 7 Bathobele Hlekani, 6 Sibabalwe Mahashe, 5 JF van Heerden, 4 Thomas Dyer, 3 Zachary Porthen (captain), 2 Luca Bakkes, 1 Casper Badenhorst.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Bester, 17 Liyema Ntshanga, 18 Herman Lubbe, 19 Jaco Grobbelaar, 20 Tiaan Jacobs, 21 Divan Fuller, 22 Tylor Sefoor, 23 Phillip-Albert van Niekerk .

England: 15 Ben Redshaw, 14 Jack Bracken, 13 Ben Waghorn, 12 Sean Kerr, 11 Alex Wills, 10 Benjamin Coen, 9 Ollie Allan, 8 Nathan Michelow, 7 Henry Pollock, 6 Finn Carnduff (captain), 5 Junior Kpoku, 4 Joe Bailey, 3 Billy Sela, 2 Craig Wright, 1 Asher Opoku-Fordjour.
Replacements: 16 James Isaacs, 17 James Halliwell, 18 Afolabi Fasogbon, 19 Olamide Sodeke, 20 Kane James, 21 Lucas Friday, 22 Angus Hall, 23 Ioan Jones.

Referee: Federico Vedovelli (Italy)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones & Paul Mente
TMO: Ben Whitehouse

New Zealand v Spain
(Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch – Kick-off: 19.00; 19.00 Spain time; 05.00, Wednesday, July 10 NZ time)


@rugby365com: New Zealand by 40 points


New Zealand: 15 Isaac Hutchinson, 14 King Maxwell, 13 Xavier Tito-Harris, 12 Xavi Taele (captain), 11 Frank Vaenuku, 10 Cooper Grant, 9 Ben O’Donovan, 8 Mosese Bason, 7 Matt Lowe, 6 Andrew Smith, 5 Cameron Christie, 4 Tom Allen, 3 Josh Smith, 2 A-One Lolofie, 1 Senio Sanele.
Replacements: 16 Manumaua Letiu, 17 Sika Pole, 18 Will Martin, 19 Tai Cribb, 20 Jeremiah Avei-Collins, 21 Riley Williams, 22 Rico Simpson, 23 Aki Tuivailala.

Spain: 15 Gabriel Rocaries, 14 Javier Guillermo, 13 Unax Zuriarrain, 12 Yago Fernandez Vilar (captain), 11 Roberto Ponce, 10 Gonzalo Otamendi, 9 Javier Lopez De Haro, 8 Valentino Rizzo, 7 Daniel Velasco, 6 Victor Ofojetu, 5 Antonio Gamez, 4 Martin Serrano, 3 Guido Reyes Rendon, 2 Pau Massoni, 1 Alberto Gomez.
Replacements: 16 David Gallego, 17 Hugo Gonzalez, 18 Aniol Franch, 19 Adam Llinares, 20 Nicolas Moleti, 21 Nicolas Gali, 22 Luciano Richardis, 23 Julien Burguillos.

Referee: Reuben Keane (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs & Griffin Colby
TMO: Tual Tranini

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