Thrills and shocks on U20 Championship opening day

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U20 rugby Argentina

The action resumes on Saturday in Manchester when New Zealand face Ireland

A nail-bititng win for Ireland against Wales, a shock win for Scotland over Australia, victory for Argentina against France and a first-half scare for South Africa against Japan were just some of the highlights from the opening day at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester.  Passionate crowds in the north-west of England turned out to see the future stars of world rugby showcase their talents in warm conditions on Tuesday. Day one also saw hosts England and reigning champions New Zealand record comfortable wins.

Rugby World Cup déjà-vu looked like it could be on the cards in the opening match at Manchester City Academy Stadium, when South Africa trailed Japan for long periods in the first half. However the 2012 tournament winners turned the tables in the second-half to win comfortably, 59-19. Wales will rue the fact that they led Six Nations rivals Ireland 17-3 before letting the lead slip and losing a thriller, 26-25. In the AJ Bell Stadium, Argentina set down a marker by beating  France 24-15, after which Scotland recorded their first ever win over Australia in the U20 Championship, 15-10.  In the last matches of the day, champions New Zealand scored eight tries to beat newcomers Georgia 55-0, while hosts England saw off Italy 48-10.

The action resumes on Saturday in Manchester when New Zealand face Ireland, Argentina take on South Africa and England clash with rivals Scotland in the pick of the battles on day two. Remaining matches will be played at Manchester City Academy Stadium and AJ Bell Stadium on 11, 15 and 20 June, with the final at the AJ Bell Stadium on 25 June. More than 400 players have made the jump from the ranks of the U20 Championship (formerly JWC) since 2008, with many graduates such as South Africa’s Handré Pollard and Jesse Kriel, New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea and Aaron Smith, England’s George Ford and Owen Farrell and Wales captain Sam Warburton now stars on the world stage.  New Zealand clinched the title in Italy last year and also won the event from 2008-11 with South Africa winning the competition on home soil in 2012. Hosts England lifted the coveted trophy in 2013 and 2014, just missing out on a hat-trick of wins when they were beaten in a thrilling final by New Zealand in 2015.

 

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