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Crusaders claim Super Rugby U-20 title

While the Crusaders' top team has yet to put a win on the board in 2024, the franchise's next generation is showing promise.

The Crusaders put together a dominant performance to defeat the Chiefs 31-17 in the final to capture the Super Rugby Under-20 title for the first time at Taupo's Owen Delany Park on Sunday.

Wins over the Highlanders in round one and the Blues in the semifinals set them on the path to the finals match up against the Chiefs.

Finals day kicked off with the NZ Barbarians playing Moana Pasifika. The Baabaas started strongly with some set piece tries that were straight out of a Barbarians playbook, and led 21-0 after as many minutes.

Moana Pasifika responded with three tries and narrowed the deficit to 21-15 but the Baabaas scored two late tries to win 36-15.

The Highlanders finished their weekend off with a big 59-19 win over Fiji Drua, with captain Josh Whaanga and Max Ratcliffe picking up doubles.

The Hurricanes held out a strong Blues outfit to claim third place. Scoring three first-half tries, they were forced to defend for long periods in the second spell to hold on to their 24-19 winning margin.

The final day’s play was the culmination a week-long tournament, the fourth edition to be hosted in Taupo.

Hurricanes loose forward Mosese Bason joined the impressive list of players who have won the Sir John Graham Player of the Tournament award, following in the footsteps of current All Blacks Luke Jacobson and Fletcher Newell.

Bason showed his strong work rate across all three game days, the dynamic loose forward impressing selectors with his effort with ball in hand and on defence.

The purpose of the tournament is to provide a platform for talent identification for the New Zealand under-20s along with on and off field development for emerging players, coaches and wider management.

Crusaders Under-20 rugby
The Crusaders claimed the Super Rugby Under-20 title for the first time. PHOTO: NZR/ACTION PRESS

This year, players attended a development session with Sir John Kirwan on mental wellbeing, a Q&A with All Blacks coaches Leon MacDonald and Jason Ryan and players Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Leroy Carter and Mitch Karpik.

NZ Rugby high performance player development manager Matt Sexton said the tournament reaffirmed the country’s ability to produce quality rugby players.

“Once again this tournament has delivered on and off the field. We have seen some great matches contested between the eight teams and enjoyed some quality development opportunities throughout the week.

“I am confident the New Zealand under-20 coaches will have been happy with the players they have seen in action and will now work towards naming a 30-player squad for the upcoming Under 20 Rugby Championship in Australia,” said Sexton.


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