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Can Baby Blacks win World Rugby U-20 title?

te inaugural The Rugby Championship Under 20 tournament, the New Zealand squad for the upcoming World U20 Championships has been named.
The victorious New Zealand U-20 Rugby Championship team is set to take on the world Rugby U-20 Championship in South Africa. PHOTO: NZ RUGBY

After winning the inaugural Rugby Championship Under-20 tournament, the New Zealand squad for the upcoming World Rugby Under-20 Championships has been named.


The team heads to South Africa next month, eyeing New Zealand’s seventh title at the annual tournament.


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It is the 14th edition of the World Rugby Under-20 tournament (it did not take place in 2020-2022), with New Zealand winning on six previous occasions, however the last time was 2017, although it should be noted there was no tournament in 2020-2022..


New Zealand Under-20 head coach Jono Gibbes has made a handful of changes to the squad that travelled to Australia, with the inclusion of All Blacks Sevens player Xavier Tito-Harris.


Joining Tito-Harris in the 30-man squad are halfback Riley Williams (Auckland) and forwards Logan Wallace (Manawatū) and Tai Cribb (Waikato).


“We could only name a 30-man squad for the World Cup and so it was important to get the balance right across different positions. The TRC gave us the experience of playing with five-day turnarounds, so we got an understanding of where our pressure points are.”




Seven players return from the 2023 campaign and Gibbes said they have stamped their mark on the squad already.


“Those returning players demonstrated leadership straight away as a group, they made a conscious effort to set things up for the new players to make sure they had a positive experience.


“They played in this tournament, in South Africa last year, so their input will be invaluable as we plan over the next few weeks,” said Gibbes.


Players have been immersed in their respective Super Rugby environments for the past two weeks, rubbing shoulders with the country’s best.




“There are obvious long-term objectives to having our players in those environments. But in the short term our players will see what goes into making a performance.


"Along with all the little things that happen outside of the schedule – they get to see that first hand and learn these things don’t happen by chance.”


The squad will assemble in Wellington next week and again in Auckland before departing on June 17.


They arrive in South Africa and will play the host nation in a warmup fixture, before playing Wales, reigning champions France and Spain in Pool A.


NEW ZEALAND RUGBY UNDER-20 SQUAD


Tom Allen (Hurricanes, Hawke’s Bay)

Jeremiah Avei-Collins (Hurricanes, Wellington)

Vernon Bason (Hurricanes, Manawatū)

Cameron Christie (Blues, North Harbour)

Sam Coles (Hurricanes, Manawatū)

Tai Cribb (Chiefs, Waikato)

Cooper Grant (Crusaders, Tasman)

Isaac Hutchinson (Crusaders, Canterbury)

Liam Jack (Crusaders, Canterbury)

Jonathan Lee (Crusaders, Canterbury)

Manumaua Letiu (Crusaders, Canterbury)

A-One Lolofie (Highlanders, Otago)

Matt Lowe (Crusaders, Tasman)

Kurene Luamanuvae (Blues, Auckland)

William Martin (Chiefs, Waikato)

King Maxwell (Blues, Auckland)

Ben O’Donovan (Crusaders, Canterbury)

Dylan Pledger (Highlanders, Otago)

Sika Pole (Blues, Auckland)

Rico Simpson (Blues, Auckland)

Joshua Smith (Hurricanes, Hawke’s Bay)

Andrew Smith (Chiefs, Waikato)

Stanley Solomon (Hurricanes, Wellington)

Xavi Taele (Blues, Auckland)

Xavier Tito-Harris (Blues, Auckland)

Aki Tuivailala (Chiefs, Waikato)

Frank Vaenuku (Chiefs, Bay of Plenty)

Logan Wallace (Hurricanes, Manawatū)

Riley Williams (Blues, Auckland)

Malachi Wrampling-Alec (Chiefs, Waikato)


Non-Travelling Reserves: Nathaniel Pole, Josh Whaanga, Senio Sanele, Toby Bell, Tofuka Paongo, Tristyn Cook


Unavailable due to injury: Konradd Newland, Mosese Bason


NEW ZEALAND RUGBY UNDER-20 SCHEDULE


New Zealand vs Wales

Sunday, June 30 (kick-off 5am NZT)


New Zealand vs France

Friday, July 5 (kick-off 2.30am NZT)


New Zealand vs Spain

Wednesday, July 10 (kick-off 5am NZT)

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