May 7, 2024

Next Generation of Eagles Look to World Rugby U20 Trophy

05.07.2024 - GRR CONTRIBUTOR

Bellingham, Wash.  – We're coming into the time for World Rugby's U20 competitions, when future stars get their first look at the international stage at the World Rugby U20 competitions.

These annual tournaments are a breeding ground for talent, providing a platform for U20 players to showcase their skills and take their first steps towards the senior international game.

Two Tiers, One Dream

The competition structure consists of two tiers: the World Rugby U20 Championship and the World Rugby U20 Trophy.

U20 Championship: This is the premier event, featuring 12 top rugby nations. It's a ruthless competition, with the winner crowned the best young rugby team globally. In 2024, the tournament will be hosted by South Africa. Last year's championship was won by France in fairly dominant fashion, as they scored 50 or more in both the semifinal against England and the final against Ireland.

But perhaps the news last year was how well Georgia fared, and how New Zealand finished off the podium.

U20 Trophy: This is the second-tier competition, offering a pathway for developing nations to climb the rugby ladder. Eight teams compete for the coveted trophy, with the winner earning promotion to the U20 Championship the following year. Scotland will be the host nation for the 2024 U20 Trophy. This is the competition the USA looks to be in, although they have to qualify by winning their qualification series with Canada. They did exactly that in 2023 and hoped to win the competition and thus garner a promotion to the Championship.

However, a little bad luck didn't help as the USA lost to Scotland and lost their other two pool games by a total of three points. That left them playing for 7th out of eight, and they won that game. Spain won the World Trophy in 2023 and so will be in the Championship in 2024, while Japan moves down.  

The Road to Glory

Both competitions follow a pool stage format, where teams are divided into groups and play each other in a round-robin format. The top teams from each pool then progress to the knockout stages, culminating in a thrilling final to determine the champion.

Who's Competing in 2024?

The lineups for the 2024 tournaments are yet to be confirmed, but here's a glimpse of what to expect:

U20 Championship: Twelve teams will compete in three pools. Pool A features France, New Zealand, Spain, and Wales. Pool B features Australia, Georgia, Ireland, and Italy. Pool C features Argentina, England, Fiji, and South Africa.

U20 Trophy: Eight teams will compete in two pools. Pool A features Hong Kong, Japan, Samoa, and Scotland. Pool B features Kenya, Netherlands, Uruguay, and the winner between USA and Canada.

USA U20 Men Set to Assemble in Washington in May in two test matches in June. USA Men’s U20s qualified for the U20 Trophy competition last year for the first time since 2016. USA is set to repeat the success and confirm their spot at this year's competition.

Men’s U20s Take Flight:

The spotlight shines brightly on the USA as they vie for the coveted Americas spot in the World Rugby U20 Trophy. The Americans and the Canadians will face off in two games in July in British Columbia. Here's a glimpse into the USA's preparation:

Intense Training: The USA will undergo a rigorous 10-day training camp at deWilde Rugby & Polo Fields, a dedicated rugby environment in Bellingham, Wash., owned by Chuckanut Bay Rugby Club featuring two world-class pitches.

deWilde Fields Provide Perfect Training Sites for USA U20s

Western Washington Legacy & Connection: Bellingham boasts a rich rugby history. Western Washington University's program, established in 1957 is hosting the D1AA 7s National Championship May 18-19 and recently the WWU Women claimed the College Club 7s National Championship. Local club Chuckanut Bay, founded in 1973 by WWU alumni, further strengthens the community spirit from youth, high school, collegiate and adult programs in the Bellingham area.

Strategic Advantage: Bellingham's location offers a cost-effective training base with a short ferry ride to Victoria, British Columbia, where the USA takes on Canada in a two-match series in June. Training in similar climatic conditions and playing on top-quality grass fields provide the perfect launchpad for success.

Moving Forward: The Americas have only the one spot in the U20 Trophy. In June, USA will compete in Canada for that spot with the winner of those matches securing the spot in the U20 Trophy competition.

More Than Just a Game:

The World Rugby U20 competitions are crucial for nurturing young talent. They provide a platform for players to gain international experience, develop their skills under pressure, and showcase their potential to the senior national team coaching staff. Already from 2023's team, Dominic Besag (who returns this year) was called up and capped at the senior level. So keep an eye on these players; you might just be witnessing the rise of the next generation of rugby stars.

About deWilde Rugby & Polo Fields

Located in Ferndale, just ten miles north of Bellingham, Wash., the deWilde Rugby & Polo Fields encompass 15 acres featuring two expansive, all-natural grass rugby pitches, generously donated by the deWilde family. This premier venue serves as the home field for the Club’s Men’s, Women’s, Boys’, Girls’, and Youth rugby teams, hosting regional competitions and fostering the sport throughout the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at dewilderugbyfields.com

This article was originally posted by: Goff Rugby Report

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