Rugby World Under-20 Championship 2024 »

The New Zealand Under 20 rugby team is in South Africa for the Under 20 Rugby World Cup.

New Zealand are grouped with Wales, France and Spain and are bidding to win their first title since 2017.

Three-time defending champion France will be the toughest group match. At the 2023 tournament, France defeated New Zealand 35-14. However, France only finished third in the Six Nations, while England took the title.

In 2008, the current incarnation of the World Rugby Under 20 Championship began. New Zealand has won the title six times, the best record of any team at the event.

The Class of 2024 has already played three matches and tasted success in capturing the first Under 20 Rugby Championship.

New Zealand drew South Africa 13-13 in Queensland earlier this year, beating Argentina (43-20) and Australia 36-25 to win the title.

Recap of the 2023 Under-20 Rugby World Cup

New Zealand Results

Pool play: Wales, 27-26

Pool play: France, 14-35

Pool play: Japan, 62-19

Half to fifth: Australia, 35-44

Play-off for seventh: Georgia, 50-26


Ireland 31-12 South Africa
France 52-31 England


Ireland 14-50 France

Player of the Tournament: Marko Gazzotti (France)
Winning captain: Lenni Nouchi (France)
Winning coach: Sébastien Calvet (France)

Tournament statistics
Points: 1,844
Tries: 146

Top scorer

Player: Hugo Reus (FRA), 62

Team: France 251

Top try scorer

Nicolas Depoortère (France), Basa Khonelidze (Georgia), Caleb Tangitau (New Zealand), Macca Springer (New Zealand), 5

New Zealand players to watch

Stanley Solomon – The diminutive Wellington flyer was a highlight in the Rugby Championship, scoring two long-range tries in the win against Australia and the first try against South Africa. Typically a front-five, Solomon was on the flank with the 20s. Solomon won the Billy Wallace Best and Fairest Award as the best player in Wellington club rugby in 2023 and a season earlier represented New Zealand secondary schools.

Johnny Lee – Captain of the Crusaders Super Rugby Pacific Under 20 championship winning team, Lee is a tenacious and tireless openside flanker who plays his club rugby for the Lincoln University Rams. Lee is powerful over the ball and has deceptive speed for a loose forward.

Vernon Bason – The New Zealand captain is a dynamic hooker from Fielding High School who led his First XV to Central North Island glory. Standing 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Bason is an accurate thrower and aggressive ball carrier. Vernon’s younger brother Mosese is also on the team. The Hurricanes loose forward was named player of the tournament at the Super Rugby Pacific Under 20 championship.

Rico Simpson – The prolific scoring front five, whose style resembles Wallabies great Stephen Larkham, led Sacred Heart College to their first 1A Auckland championship in 58 years last season with a man-of-the-match display against St Kentigern College in the final. Simpson was the leading points scorer for the New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Under-20s on their respective Australian tours.

The ones to watch from the New Zealand group

Marko Gazzotti (France) – Gazzotiti was named the best player at the World Championship last year. The trained number 8, who can also play all positions in the third row, is 192 cm and 107 kg. Born from Savoie, born to a father with Italian roots and a Lithuanian mother (who added the ‘k’ to his first name), a former handball player, he was raised and educated in Grenoble (along with the 19-year-old whore Barnabé Massa, also world champion from 2023) and courted by the biggest clubs (Toulon and Montpellier) before arriving in Bordeaux in 2023, already with solid experience in Pro D2. Another interesting feature of the French team is halfback Léo Carbonneau, who played nine games for his country and scored three tries in 2023. His father Philippe played 32 tests for France from 1995 to 2001. His uncle Oliver was a center for Toulouse for a long time. Carbonneau plays for Brive in the French Top 14.

Ryan Woodman (Wales) – The Dragons RFC back-rower missed the Six Nations Championship through injury but is regarded as one of Wales’ best players with his tenacity and pinpoint action. The Wales squad consists of just two uncapped players, brothers Ioan and Steffan Emanuel. Coach Richard Whiffin commented: “We have power throughout the team with real athletes in all parts of the pitch… “The way we want to play is by moving the ball and expressing ourselves in the wider channels – hopefully we a team that can be competitive in an extremely competitive pool.”

Beau Finnian Peart (Spain) – Spain will play in the Rugby World Under-20 Championship for the first time in 2024 after a thrilling 39-32 victory over Uruguay in a qualifying event at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya. Finnian Peart is the Spanish general. The first five has a target range of 50 meters and is a reliable tactician. Openside flanker Borja Ibanez Escalera scored two tries in the historic win against Uruguay and impressed with his breakdown work.

Rugby World Cup Under-20 – New Zealand Under-20 fixtures

GAME ONE: New Zealand v Wales, Sunday 30 June, 5.30am NZT, DHL Stadium, Cape Town

GAME TWO: New Zealand v France, Friday 5 July, 2.30am NZT, DHL Stadium, Cape Town

MATCH THREE: New Zealand v Spain, Wednesday 19 July, 5am NZT, DHL Stadium, Cape Town

All games LIVE on Sky Sport NZ.