The World Rugby Under-20 Championship 2019 is currently ongoing in Argentina. The tournament began on June 4 and will extend through to June 22. Twelve teams from across the globe will battle it out for this year’s trophy. Argentina, England, Ireland, Fiji, Australia, New-Zealand and France are some of the big names that will be seeking to show their prowess in the 19-day championship.
The top teams
Australia have already secured a spot at the tournament’s semi-finals after beating Ireland 45-17 to emerge at the top of Group B with 10 points. This is the first time the Junior Wallabies have reached the semis in eight years. Australia emerged fifth in the 2018 U20 Championship. South Africa is currently on top of Group C with 10 points, same as New Zealand in the second position.
France cemented their lead in Group A after winning the first two matches of the competition garnering 10 points in the process. The hosts Argentina are second in the group with six points after losing 25-30 to Wales in their first match.
France to defend their title
The Les Bleuets lifted the tournament’s trophy for the first time ever after beating England 33-25 in the 2018 finals. France had a good start in the 2019 competition. They beat Fiji 36-20 in their first match before punishing Wales 32-13 in the pool stage matches. France will face Argentina next, on June 12.
Despite the presence of a number of teams with a highly competitive chance for the 2019 trophy, I believe France have better odds of reaching the finals and perhaps lift the trophy for the second time. We take a look at the French team and analyze the factors that could make them favorites for the title.
France have won seven of the last nine matches they played. They finished third in their first tournament in the 2008 Six Nations U20. The French team are currently second-placed in the Under-20 Six Nations 2019 with 17 points. Les Bleuets have won three of their last five matches in the tournament and beat Italy 31-35 in their last Six Nations U20 match on March 15.
France have won eight of the last 10 matches they played in all competitions. Just like last year, the French team will do whatever it can to ensure that they emerge victorious.
France’s players to watch
Louis Carbonel, Jordan Joseph, Arthur Vincent are some of the key players in Les Bleuets squad whose performance will determine France’s chance of emerging the winners.
Louis Carbonel currently plays for Toulon in the Top 14 as a fly-half. The 20-year-old is ranked on position 71 in the World’s Fullback ranking and is fourth among top players with the most points scored, at 17. He has made two appearances for France this season. Carbonel has scored one try for the team and made three conversions. His presence in this tournament is a plus for the Sébastien Piqueronies’ side.
Jordan Joseph is currently the leading player with most tries scored in the ongoing competition at three. Joseph posted an impressive performance inspiring France to the U20 Championship title in 2018. The 18-year-old plays for the Racing 92, where he made 12 appearances for the Top 14 side in the 2018/2019 season. He made five appearances for France in 2018 Under-20 Championship and two appearances this year. Joseph has scored three tries for France in the ongoing tournament.
Arthur Vincent is the current France skipper. He plays for Montpellier as a center and made 16 appearances for the club in the 2018/2019 season. The 19-year-old made two appearances for the French team in 2018 and one this year. Vincent led the Les Bleuets in the 2018 Under-20 championship title campaign. His leadership and skills will be key for the Sébastien Piqueronies’ side in their journey for this year’s title.
France have a shot
Based on the above history, Sébastien Piqueronies’ side have good odds of making it to the finals and emerging the Champions for the second successive time. The French squad appears strong and ready for the task. The presence of highly skilled and talented players like Louis Carbonel and Jordan Joseph is a clear sign that France won’t hesitate to take on any opponent.
Les Bleuets are in good form and can repeat last year’s success again this year. The fact that they have won against bigger teams in the past, gives them an even better chance in this tournament.
Performance is key
As much as the French team are a strong team in the tournament, they will need to overcome other tough opponents like Argentina and Australia in order to keep their hopes alive. However considering the above factors, I believe Les Bleuets will be the team to beat in the Under-20 World Rugby Championship 2019.
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