New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship – this year branded as the Mitre 10 Cup – is always one of the most enjoyable competitions in club rugby, performing a key role in the nation’s talent development process. Nehe Milner-Skudder’s performances for Manawatu in 2014 served as a springboard to Super Rugby and international recognition in 2015, while the part played by Seta Tamanivalu in Taranaki’s championship victory that same season led to a place in the Chiefs squad and a cap for the All Blacks in June 2016. The competition also provides an opportunity – arguably unparalleled in world rugby – for age-grade players to prove themselves against top competition. The NZRU will undoubtedly be disappointed with a fifth-place finish in this year’s U20 World Championship, but the manner in which the side rebounded from sloppy pool-stage performances against Ireland and Wales to score nineteen tries in two emphatic knockout victories was indicative of the attacking talent at Scott Robertson’s disposal, and many of these young players will be heavily involved with their provinces over the coming weeks.
Tag: U20 WC 2016
Tomorrow evening at the Manchester City Academy Stadium, Ireland will contest the semi-final of the World Rugby U20 Championship against Argentina. The Pool C winners claimed impressive victories over France and South Africa in the group stages, and will be looking to emulate the success of their senior counterparts in last autumn’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final.
The World Rugby U20 Championship begins in Manchester on Tuesday evening, and New Zealand – one of Ireland’s opponents in Pool A – are being backed by many to retain their title. This year’s Baby Blacks squad is slightly younger and less experienced than the 2015 side, but the high level of talent from 1 to 15 ensures that they will be in the running for the trophy when the tournament reaches its final stages in just under three weeks’ time.