Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


World Rugby U20 Championship 2017: Pool permutations

U20 captains
L-R Italy vice-captain Marco Zanon, New Zealand captain Luke Jacobson, Scotland captain Callum Hunter-Hill and Ireland captain Paul Boyle at the World Rugby U20 Championship 2017 launch for Pool B teams in Kutaisi, Georgia, on 27 May. Photo credit: Gogita Bukhaidze / World Rugby.

Scotland recovered from an opening defeat to New Zealand with their first ever win over Ireland in this tournament. With Italy to come on Thursday the young Scots have a chance to do what the under 20s have only managed once in 9 previous attempts – win 2 matches in the pool stages.

Scotland have met the Italians 13 times in the last decade in tournament play and emerged victorious on 10 occasions, including all 3 previous encounters in the World Rugby u20 Championships. This is a must win for the dark blues but the Azzuri were able to rest more of their first choice players during their second pool match against New Zealand. Like their senior counterparts wins over Italy never come easy and Thursday’s match is likely to be yet another dog fight…

Final round fixtures – Thursday 8th June

10.00 am (1.00 pm local time)
Scotland v Italy (Pool B) – AIA Arena, Kutaisi

Wales v Samoa (Pool A) – Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi

12.30 pm
New Zealand v Italy (Pool B) – AIA Arena, Kutaisi

South Africa v Argentina (Pool C) – Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi

3.00 pm
France v Georgia (Pool C) – Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi

7.45 pm
England v Australia (Pool A) – Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi

Projected table

As things stand after round two the overall table (from which qualification for the playoffs will be determined) looks like this:


Based on hoped for / projected wins for Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, South Africa, France and England the final overall standings would look something like this:


From a Scotland point of view that would mean a matchup against Argentina, with Australia and Wales on the other side of the 5th place playoffs:


New Zealand v France
England v South Africa

For rankings 5-8

Australia v Wales
Scotland v Argentina

For rankings 9-12

Italy v Georgia
Ireland v Samoa

A fifth final in ten tournaments between New Zealand and England looks a distinct possibility at this stage. There’s still an awful lot of rugby to be played though and the attritional nature of the championship may have a part to play – who can manage injuries and fatigue the best?

Permutations for Scotland

Avoiding the bottom tier:
It’s mathematically possible that Scotland could make it into the middle tier while still losing to Italy – but it’s unlikely. If the Scots lose without a bonus point they would need Ireland to lose to New Zealand and (more improbably) Samoa to beat Wales with no try bonus point. A losing bonus point for Scotland would still require an All Blacks win accompanied by either a Samoan victory or a Welsh success with no BP.

The middle tier:
A win against Italy will guarantee Scotland make it into the playoffs for 5th place for the third consecutive tournament – having not managed that feat a single time between 2008 and 2014.

Outside chance of the semi-finals:
Here’s where it gets complicated. To really make history and join the top tier for the first time ever Scotland will need a bonus point win against Italy and:

  • Pool A:
    England to beat Australia (with the Ozzies failing to get a bonus point)
  • Pool C:
    Georgia to beat France; or
    France to beat Georgia – no try BP and by 20 less points than Scotland beat Italy; or
    Argentina to beat South Africa – no try BP and by 29 less points than Scotland beat Italy; or
    A draw in either of the France v Georgia or South Africa v Argentina matches.

9 Responses

    1. Shame Scotland couldn’t get the BP to sneak into SFs but this is a great tournment for an unfancied young team. Sounds like Italy have serious quality too – would be madness to dump them from 6N instead of nurturing them to get better.

      1. You’ve got to think Conor O’Shea has been weighing in on development pathways for Italy’s age grade side to get some players coming through he can work with.

        Fair to say Scottish lads are exceeding expectations so far but have a history of finishing 8th in recent years. Likely they’ll be in that 5-9 group again.

      2. Excellent result for the boys – a nailbiting finish which they closed out for the win. Don’t think a BP would have put us in the SF anyway.
        Unless England give the Aussies a hammering, it’s likely we’ll be up against Wales next. We haven’t beaten them recently so it’s an uphill struggle. However even should we lose we’ll be playing Italy again for 7th place – our best ever finish!!

      3. So did that Robbie Nairn fumble when over the line cost them a win BP and a top 4 SF spot?? Ah well…Wales up next I think for a crack at 5/6 place which compared with where we were a few short years ago at this level is a nice step up.

        Academy structure seems to have things moving in the right direction, now just need Schools to stop looking inward and recognise the need for competitive inter club/school rugby throughout the season to raise standards even more.

      4. Dont think it did..not directly amyway..he made up for it soon after. If there had been a kick off at 7-0 the second chance wouldn’t have been so soon coming.

  1. Only saw the last 5 minutes – the traditional Scottish rugby supporters squeaky bum time. Don’t know what Kinghorn thought he was playing at giving the penalty away at the death, but all’s well that ends well.
    Just an excellent tournament for the boys – be really nice to win one more game ?

    1. Wouldn’t be Scotland without. Heartening thing for me is the youngsters just closed out two of these in a row.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion