We take a look at the four teams in Pool A of the IRB Junior World Championship 2013 which features defending champions South Africa, hosts France, England and IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2012 winners USA.
The matches will all be played at the Stade Henri Desgrange in La Roche-sur-Yon.
Seeding for JWC 2013: 1
Best finish: Champions (2012)
Worst finish: Fifth (2011)
JWC match record: Played 25 / Won 19 / Lost 6
JWC points/tries scored: 1,048 / 141
JWC graduates: 7
Most capped JWC graduate: Francois Hougaard (27 Tests)
Did you know...? South Africa are the only team to score more than 100 points in a JWC match. In fact they’ve done it twice, against USA (108-18) in 2008 and Fiji (104-17) in 2011.
Coach: Dawie Theron
Captain: Ruan Steenkamp
One to watch: Seabelo Senatla
His electric pace will come as no surprise to South Africa’s opponents at JWC 2013 after his debut season on the HSBC Sevens World Series yielded 15 tries in five events, three of them won by the Blitzbokke. With the loss of Southern Kings flyer Sergeal Petersen to injury, the Baby Boks will be hoping the 20-year-old can transfer his try-scoring pedigree to the 15-a-side Game with his pace, natural talent and skills certain to be key to their bid to defend the JWC title they won on home soil last year.
Seeding for JWC 2013: 6
Best finish: Fourth (2011)
Worst finish: Sixth (2008, 2012)
JWC match record: Played 25 / Won 17 / Lost 8
JWC points/tries scored: 722 / 85
JWC graduates: 13
Most capped JWC graduates: Mathieu Bastareaud / Yoann Maestri (14 Tests)
Did you know...? Pierre Bernard holds the record for most points scored in a JWC match with 33 against Wales in the fifth place play-off in 2009.
Coach: Didier Retière
Captain: Paul Jedrasiak
One to watch: Teddy Thomas
A newcomer to the Top 14 this season, his form in the latter stages has been impressive with four tries in five appearances for Biarritz Olympique marking him out as a player of the future. Thomas also crossed twice in Biarritz’s Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final against Gloucester in early April and with France Under 20s having lost Gaël Fickou to the national team’s tour to New Zealand, the wing cum full back could be a catalyst to spark something for the hosts.
Seeding for JWC 2013: 7
Best finish: Runners-up (2008, 2009, 2011)
Worst finish: Seventh (2012)
JWC match record: Played 25 / Won 18 / Lost 7
JWC points / tries scored: 761 / 91
JWC graduates: 13
Most capped JWC graduate: Ben Youngs (33 Tests)
Did you know...? Tom Homer, who played in 2009 and 2010, is the all-time leading point scorer in JWC history with 118 points.
Coach: Nick Walshe
Captain: Jack Clifford
One to watch: Luke Cowan-Dickie
Easily recognisable wherever he is on the pitch due to his ‘mullet’ hairstyle, the prop is always looking for a gap to dart into and can be a difficult man to stop, perhaps not surprising given he played number 8 until Under 16 level. On the books of Premiership side Exeter Chiefs, he has gained valuable experience on loan at Plymouth Albion and will be keen to better his first taste of the Junior World Championship in South Africa last year.
Seeding for JWC 2013: 12 (IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2012 winners)
Best finish: 16th (2008) – relegated to JWRT
JWC match record: Played 5 / Won 0 / Lost 5
JWC points / tries scored: 68 / 7
JWC graduates: 4
Most capped JWC graduate: Shawn Pittman (24 Tests)
Did you know...? USA won a thrilling final – 37-33 against Japan – in which the lead changed hands seven times to secure their return to the Junior World Championship stage in 2013.
Coach: Jason Kelly
One to watch: Jared Stewart
The Junior All-Americans – as the USA Under 20 team is known – will arrive in France as something of an unknown quantity but the centre cum full back could be one player some of the England players may recognise. Stewart played rugby before switching to league and the Leeds Rhinos’ Academy, but injuries derailed his time there and he has now switched back to union and will hope to figure for Newcastle Falcons next season on their return to the English Premiership.
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