World Rugby U20 Championship 2019 – pool stages so far

Signs of progress

Two rounds over and ultimately there are 2 defeats from 2 on the board for Scotland in the World Rugby U20 Championship after going down 43-19 to South Africa and 52-33 to New Zealand. That only tells part of the story though. Given the dark blues have never beaten either of these countries at U20 level there has to be an element of the manner of the losses that is judged as well as the overall outcome.

Previous results against South Africa in the U20 Championship:

2008: lost 3 – 72
2010: lost 0 – 73
2011: lost 0 – 33
2014: lost 5 – 61 **

For Scotland this year’s encounter with the Junior Springboks represents:

  • Smallest margin of defeat;
  • More points scored than in 4 previous matches combined;
  • More tries scored than in 4 previous matches combined.

Previous results against New Zealand in the U20 Championship:

2014: lost 7 – 54 **
2015: lost 10 – 68
2017: lost 20 – 42

  • Smallest margin of defeat;
  • Most points scored;
  • Same number of tries scored as 3 previous matches combined;
  • First bonus point Scotland have collected (against either NZ or SA).

It’s worth noting that all this has been achieved while using essentially two different teams and giving debuts at under 20 level to five players. For the remainder of the tournament Carl Hogg will be picking his strongest XV and will also have more confidence in the extended bench (the full squad is available for each match) and their ability to come on and have an impact on games.

** As an aside despite losing to SA and NZ by a combined aggregate score of 115 – 12 during the 2014 tournament, Scotland’s squad has still produced 16 players who played top level club rugby – including 6 full Test caps. If a group that was so far off the pace of the top Southern Hemisphere teams can produce that many players are the prospects greater for this current batch who have come so much closer to SA and NZ?

Final round of pool matches

The number one priority for Scotland is to beat Georgia. Nothing less will do if there is to be any chance of avoiding the relegation playoffs. After that it’s a case of watching the remaining games and hoping to finish ahead of one of the 3rd place teams in the other two pools.

These are the key scenarios that could put Scotland into the middle tier of the playoffs.

Scotland win with no try bonus point.

To finish ahead of 3rd place in Pool A, Scotland need:
– Italy to lose to Ireland; and
– England (no BP) to lose to Australia.

To finish ahead of 3rd place in Pool B, Scotland need:
– Wales (no BP) to lose to Fiji (no BP).
– If Fiji get the BP then Scotland need to beat Georgia by more than Fiji beat Wales.

Scotland win with a try bonus point.

To finish ahead of 3rd place in Pool A, Scotland need:
– Ireland (no BP) to lose to Italy (no BP)
– Italy to lose to Ireland; and
– England (max 1 BP) to lose to Australia.

To finish ahead of 3rd place in Pool B, Scotland need:
– Wales (max 1 BP) to lose to Fiji.

Wales losing to Fiji would be a massive shock so it would seem Scotland’s most likely route to the 5th to 8th playoffs requires England to drop into the bottom tier of the tournament! The dark blues would then be grouped with (probably) Wales, Ireland and Argentina with the pressure off and the chance to really enjoy themselves.

If Scotland fail to beat Georgia (or if other results don’t go their way) then they will join the 9th to 12th playoffs. Most likely these will be contested against Georgia, Italy and Fiji. The side that finishes last (ie loses both of their playoff matches) will be relegated to the World Rugby U20 Trophy for next season.

Team for final pool match

After making 12 changes for Scotland’s second match against New Zealand, Carl Hogg has reverted to the starting XV that opened the tournament against South Africa.

With 119 previous caps at this level it’s not far off the most experienced selection the head coach could have made (128 caps). There was the option to add a bit more beef to the pack which weighs in at 851kg – but could have been as heavy as 873kg. The team picked balances trying to front up to a sizeable Georgian side while trying to keep playing in the expansive Scottish style.

Scotland U20 team to face Georgia U20: 15. Matt Davidson, 14. Rory McMichael, 13. Cameron Anderson, 12. Grant Hughes, 11. Jack Blain, 10. Ross Thompson, 9. Roan Frostwick; 1. Murphy Walker, 2. Ewan Ashman, 3. Euan McLaren, 4. Ewan Johnson, 5. Cameron Henderson, 6. Marshall Sykes, 7. Connor Boyle, 8. Tom Marshall.

Replacements: 16. Rory Jackson, 17. Andrew Nimmo, 18. Will Hurd, 19. Mak Wilson, 20. Ross Bundy, 21. Jack Hill, 22. Kwagga van Niekirk, 23. Murray Scott, 24. Teddy Leatherbarrow, 25. Nathan Chamberlain, 26. Robbie McCallum, 27. Ollie Smith, 28. Lomond MacPherson.

At Racecourse Stadium, Rosario in the World Rugby U20 Championship this Wednesday 12th June (kick-off 2.30pm BST / 10.30am local time) – streamed live on


When he's not watching Glasgow, Scotland (and even Edinburgh) Kevin can usually be found with his head in a spreadsheet working out the most obscure Scottish rugby related stat he can put out on Twitter.
Follow Kevin on twitter @topofthemoonGW

39 comments on “World Rugby U20 Championship 2019 – pool stages so far

  1. Stu2 on

    They can score tries and and as long as they dont get drawn into a wrestling match they should get a TB – however, will they tighten up as the pressure mounts?

    Shore up our defence and rely on our exciting runners to win the game.

    • David on

      They also have Cam Redpath, Bryan’s son playing as a 12. Both Redpath and Dingwall are previous Scotland age caps and played together in our midfield too.

    • johnny b on

      Yes, he’s a Scot brought up in England and part of the Saints set up. Same as Cameron Redpath at Sale.
      Happens a lot. There are up to 2 million Scots dispersed around the British Isles outside of Scotland.

  2. thebigiam on

    I saw some of the SA game, and I was quite impressed with some of the play and individual performances. Inside passes seem to cause total chaos for them. But really, given that most of them have little or no experience at this level or with pro sides, I think they have competed pretty well. I’m sure we’ll here more from some of those players in the future.

    How many days until the new season starts..?

    • James on

      Do people see the Super 6 as solving some of the issues of our under 20’s not having experience at a high(ish) level? I’d expect it would but would be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this. I guess it depends on how many under 20’s get picked to play in the Super 6 teams.

  3. DAvid on

    Are this Georgian side any good? The team we played last year (or the year before?) with the brilliant scrum half was excellent. I’m not sure this will be the foregone conclusion some might expect.

  4. Bazz on

    As always, an enjoyable article.

    Although I think that you may have calculated these permutations with England currently on 4 points instead of 5.

    • Kevin Millar on

      Cheers. Yeah bit of a weird one – seems to have been fixed now. England scored 3 tries and lost by 16 v Ireland. Only scored 3 tries in beating Italy. Saturday evening and all day Sunday they had 4 points. Then for some reason this morning they randomly had a BP and 5 points! Latest on WR site is that they are back to 4 points.

      • Bazz on

        Yeah I noticed just before I came here from your tweet. Crazy how they can get that wrong and then in the process of fixing it they bumped up Italy’s points for no reason.

  5. Ben F on

    Entertaining , they look quite handy by our standards. Class commentator ‘Are you not Entertained’ Best line I have heard in years.

  6. Slam on

    First half: scotland really fortunate to be leading. Defence is good but far too many silly errors. Can’t afford to kick the ball out on the full, taking quick penalties that leads to a player getting isolated leading to turnover ball, screwing up our line out in the Georgian 22. An improved second half is needed if we are to win this.

  7. GW on

    Is there anyway we can stop Gatland coaching the lions ? He really did ruin this for me and currently i would not care if it gets removed from the global calendar.

    • SlimJim on

      Aslomg as it’s not ruined for you eh? It’s easy Scotland, players start winning tough games, showing that elite ability and they’ll get in. The difference between our top guys and the other top guys is mental edge. Hogg and Russell and maybe at a push Watson would be the only ones close if it were this summer.its not Gatland it’s us. Was no different pre Gatland

      • GW on

        I disagree there was huge uproar particularly in 2017 at the lack of players being selected, Individuals who were excellent for scotland were being rejected for bang average welsh & english players because there teams were performing. I don’t think individuals should be denied the opportunity to go on a lions tour if there form merits it based on how badly there teammates perform.

      • Slimjom on

        I know I was one in uproar at the time but in hindsight I think the selection and lack of our players being selected was by and large justified. Other than North at the time I’m not sure who the bang average welsh players were (late call ups excluded). Swap the welsh test players for Scots equivalents and that would have been a 3-0 loss. We see it time and time again, we are not ruthless and not big game players away from home. You can point to random exception like Aus and the Calcutta cup but the trend is clear.

      • GW on

        Biggar over Russell, That welsh backrow whos name i cant even remember over Watson who was on fire. No Grays (Admittedly marginal)

        Top tryscorer Seymour not selected for any of the test matches.

        There were other ofc also but those would be the prominent ones who should have been on that tour, No Russell or Watson was disgraceful considering how easily they dismantled Wales that year. How can you argue against that ? Even our World class players are not good enough for Gatland.

    • Scotty on

      I am guessing the Welsh player you are referring to is Moriarty who was added when Billy V pulled out, he is a number 8 which is why it was a like for like replacement.

      It was a disappointment and shock for all Scots fans to only see two on the original selection but I think if we are totally honest and not looking at players form now, they were the right calls. At the time Russell was too erratic which is why he went with his trusted Biggar and Seymour was only top try scorer as he was picked in so many midweek games. I was at the Chiefs game and he made an absolute mess of a guaranteed try, I think that had a lot to do with his non test selection.

      We need to stop being so anti-Gatland. As Slim-Jim says, if we start winning some big games (consistently) then we will get the Lions representation we deserve. Gatland’s record as a coach (club, country and Lions) is exemplary and he is the obvious choice for the job.

      • GW on

        I disagree that it is exemplary, he edged past a very average Aussie side 2-1 in which most countries where already beating them.

        They then got a draw, not a win against the ABs, a team who while still performing well were no where close the 2015 WC winning team & had a ridiculous list of injuries as well as a out of form Savea, They struggled to put away a 14 man ABs side in the 2nd test.

        The style he brings is effective but it’s incredibly one dimensional and boring, there is nothing to be a fan of in my eyes.

        Biggar was massively out of form by the way, he should not of been close to a spot on that tour it was a complete mockery & why the head Coach should be neutral.

        Any more Andy Nicol type commenters want to big up Gatland ?

      • Scotty on

        I am not trying to big up Gatland and, like many, do not particularly like the guy but you cannot deny his record. The 2nd test in Australia was very poor but he certainly made up for it in the absolute trouncing in the 3rd test. And any kind of result away in NZ is remarkable. Away from the Lions, three 6 nations titles including 2 grand slams in the past 7 years with Wales in a team packed full of your “bang average Welsh players” makes for a seriously impressive CV. We need to stop throwing the toys out of the pram because our players simply didn’t put themselves in a position to be selected. It is better to select players on merit rather than just giving a country a quota because they are one of the 4 nations. Yes there were probably a few 50/50 calls between Welsh and Scottish players that went the Welsh way but from his perspective it was probably the safer option and ended up working out.

      • FF on

        Really interested to hear who GW thinks is a more successful coach in the current game? Think only Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen have records that bear comparison. Maybe Schmidt.

  8. Stu2 on

    u20s go behind with 5 to play.

    Not sure this side have the testicular fortitude to avoid relegation in the next two matches.

  9. johnny b on

    Looks like there’s some attacking talent there but the forwards could do with some grunt.
    Not easy though, the team is on the young side and obviously the Kiwis and Saffas are already involved in provincial and S15 rugby while even the Georgians have a squad full of players at Top 14 academies.
    Basically full time pros.
    Will be interesting to see if the Super 6 makes any difference to our age grade prep.

  10. Gavin Barr on

    Difficult not to be concerned about the future if this is the best we can do at U20. Some gutsy boys out there, but boys among men. Skill levels low, especially at ball retention. Two or three prospects, but apart from that…..

  11. The Chiel on

    Doesn’t help when the coach starts twining about conditions and is clearly looking for a way out by getting the game abandoned. Dreadful example to set.


    Awful from the under 20’s they have let the country down. I would not be impressed if i was Cockers or Rennie.

    I am delighted to see SHC turn down a place and tell Gregor where to stick it, he needs to focus on himself and i hope he takes this amazing opportunity at Racing.

    • James on

      It does seem pretty poor, however I’ve not seen any of the games so not going to slate the players. My question is, what has happened to the academy pathways and structures to allow this to happen? Is this just a particularly poor crop of players or is it coaching or selection that’s the issue? We seem to be in an ok place at top level with some good players who’ll be around for a few years but we really want to avoid too many years where those coming through can’t compete.

      • GW on

        I think for starters having good consistent coaches would be a start, i don’t think the u20’s should be a training role for coaches.

        If we have solid coaching then we can look at the players.

        My question is what happens next year, what is the level below like & its format ?

      • Andy_N on

        To be fair to the coaches, lineouts and attacking mauls were excellent. Everyone really seemed to understand their role and it was a potent weapon in attack, but I was really surprised at how limited the rest of our offensive game was. Much of the passing from the backs looked laboured, a bit harum scarum and often led to us being tackled well behind the gain line. Where is the dynamic rapier attack that we’re expecting of Scottish teams? I’ve watched many of these boys in youth and schools rugby, and they are no less talented than generations before and in many cases, far more so – but they seemed absolutely devoid of ideas – no pattern, no confidence. That buck has to stop with the coaching group.

    • Stu2 on

      I coached youth rugby for 10yrs until 2014 – I was lucky to be doing so at a time the SRU took it more seriously. UKCC courses, support and engagement from Murrayfield and the establishment of a proper academy systems.

      However, the restriction to one game a weekend is utterly bewildering – not sure if its a WR diktat but IMO it’s harming
      the development of our young players. The biggest issue in youth rugby in Scotland has always been the lack of competitive games – they are simply not put under enough pressure enough times in a season to even hope that they will be able to compete at international level – to further restrict this makes no sense.

      U16 and below should be able to play two games a weekend – they were doing so quite happily until a few years ago. Not everyone has the benefit of going to a rugby school.

      • Andy_N on

        I think game time is an issue, but probably not in the way you mean. You can train all you like, but only by playing games together as a team do you build a team mentality, and the mental strength to pull together when the going gets tough. It seemed to me that when the pressure came on, we crumbled. There was plenty of pointing and moaning and whinging, but little evidence of a galvanising leadership group. I do wonder if this is where lack of games together as a squad takes its toll – do our boys have less time together as a group because the regional academy structure fragments the squad? Surely we must be looking at how the other nations organise themselves. The academy regional championship also seems a shadow of its former self with less than half the matches of its predecessor – maybe an u20 team in the Super6 isn’t the worst idea in the world.

  13. Andy_N on

    I managed to catch most the U20 games, either live or on catch up. As usual in these competitions, we looked to be giving away size/weight advantage in every game. I watch a lot of rugby, but I’m no rugby coach so my opinion is based only on my impression of what I saw – not some technical analysis of every breakdown or defensive set, but it looked as though in every match, we seemed to be less aggressive – by that I mean we showed less commitment and were less dynamic than the opposition who in every game, simply seemed to want it more. Clear outs at breakdowns seemed half hearted and inaccurate. Some of the tackles at key moments were far too passive, allowing opposition to maintain momentum, make easy offloads or indeed break clean through. Defence in particular I think is part organisation part attitude – we did most of the time seem to be in the right place to make the tackles, but far too often failed to execute them effectively.

Comments are closed.