Seeing double at JWC 2014 in New Zealand

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 28 May 2014
 Seeing double at JWC 2014 in New Zealand
Craig Chalmers is the father of Scotland Under 20 player Ben

Twins playing in an IRB Junior World Championship is nothing new, but the 2014 edition will have two sets of twins among the 12 teams participating in the Under 20 tournament from 2-20 June in Auckland.

It would have been four, but Samoa's Anthony Lemalu missed out on the chance to play alongside brother Andrew while Daniel du Preez was ruled out of South Africa’s squad with a shoulder injury just before departure to deny him the opportunity to join brother Jean Luc in New Zealand, and follow in the footsteps of his older brother Robert who played at JWC 2013 in France.

The Junior Springboks will still boast one set of twins in Jesse and Dan Kriel, the former having played in last year’s tournament. South Africa also fielded twins at a previous JWC before with Robert and Sias Ebersohn playing in Japan in 2009.

Italy boast the other twins at JWC 2014 and could have Daniele and Gabriele di Giulio on the wings in one of their Pool A matches.

Aside from there being two sets of twins, there are a number of players in the tournament with interesting family connections and not just in the world of rugby but also an Olympic and Commonwealth boxer.

The host nation boast a few themselves with Jackson Garden-Bachop the son of former All Black and Samoa fly half Stephen Bachop. His uncle Graeme also played rugby for two countries in New Zealand and Japan, playing in three Rugby World Cups in 1990s. His mother also played for the Black Ferns, while his cousin Aaron Mauger played 45 Tests for the All Blacks.

Damian McKenzie’s older brother Marty played for New Zealand at JWC 2012 in South Africa, starting four games at full back including the final defeat by the hosts, and has also turned out for the All Blacks Sevens. Their father Brent played for the Junior All Blacks.

Silver medallist

Another in the Baby Blacks’ squad who is following in his brother’s footsteps is Anton Lienert-Brown. His brother Daniel was called out to France last year as an injury replacement. 

Their Pool C opponents South Africa, Scotland and Samoa also have a wealth of family connections. South Africa’s Jean-Luc du Plessis, whose brother Daniel was also in contention to make the Under 20 squad, is the son of former Springbok wing and coach Carel du Plessis.

Some of the most interesting connections for Scotland include Glen Young and Ben Chalmers. 

Young’s twin cousins Lewis and Gregor played for Scotland Sevens on the HSBC Sevens World Series in 2013/14. His father Doug was a boxer who competed at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and then won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh two years later.

Chalmers’ father Craig played 60 Tests for Scotland between 1989 and 1999 – including two Rugby World Cups – and also one for the Lions on their tour to Australia in 1989. That is not the only family connection, though, as his aunt Paula is a former Scotland women’s captain and played 75 times for her country.

Samoa captain Henry Stowers is the nephew of former Manu Samoa captain George Stowers, who played 23 Tests between 2001 and 2011, while Cameron Skelton's brother Will played for Samoa at the Junior World Rugby Trophy in 2011 and is in Australia's squad for their series with France in June.

There are plenty of connections among the Pool A teams with Argentina, Australia and defending champions England all having players who are following in the footsteps of older brothers who have played on the Junior World Championship stage.

Bautista Ezcurra’s older brother Felipe captained Argentina at JWC 2013 in France and made his Test debut for the Pumas against Uruguay last month, while teammate Rodrigo Etchart’s brother Cristian played for Argentina at the IRB Under 19 World Championship in 2007.

Father's birthplace

England have two examples with Billy Burns the younger brother of Freddie, who played at JWC 2010 in Argentina and has since graduated to the Test side, and Jack Walker’s brother Chris having captained his country at JWC 2012.

Ross Haylett-Petty’s older brother Dane played in the first two editions of the Junior World Championship and remains in the history books, sharing the record for the most tries in a single match after his four-try haul against Canada in 2008.

His teammate Allan Alaalatoa’s father played for Samoa at RWC 1991, while Ross Moriarty – a member of England’s JWC 2013 winning squad – boasts two connections with his father Paul and Uncle Richard having both played Test rugby for Wales, including at RWC 1987 in New Zealand.

Sam Olver’s father John also played for England, while Tom Stephenson’s mother Rosemary also represented her country but in netball. Tom Ellis’s great-great-grandfather played cricket for England and was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1892.

There are also a handful of connections in Pool B with France wing Arthur Bonneval the younger brother of Hugo, who played at JWC 2010 and marked his Test debut for Les Bleus with a try against Italy in this year’s Six Nations, and son of former France international Eric.

Harrison Brewer was a late call-up to the Ireland squad before they departed the Emerald Isle for the land of his father’s birth. Mike played 32 Tests for New Zealand between 1986 and 1995. Interestingly he was born in Pukekohe, where Harrison and the Ireland team face Wales on day two.

Wales scrum half Luc Jones is the son of former Wales international Lyn, who played five Tests in 1993 and is currently director of rugby at Newport Gwent Dragons, although he will be heading out to New Zealand to support his son and the rest of the squad as they bid to better their 2013 finish.