Bates relishing Junior Springboks clash

  • England U20s v Junior Springboks - Friday,11 May
  • Live on englandrugby.com and England Rugby Facebook

England U20s head coach Steve Bates says Friday’s clash against the Junior Springboks will be crucial preparation for his side ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship in France (30 May – 17 June).

Bates’ side take on their South Africa counterparts at Worcester Warriors' Sixways Stadium on Friday (KO 7.30pm BST, live on EnglandRugby.com and FreeSports) in a one-off fixture before this summer’s tournament.

2017 runners-up England will face Argentina in Narbonne (30 May, 5.30 KO BST) as well as Italy (3 June, 3.30 KO BST and Scotland (7 June, 8pm KO BST) in Pool B at Beziers' Stade de la Méditerranée.

Narbonne and Perpignan will host the semi-finals and ranking play-offs on 12 June, with Béziers hosting all finals day matches on 17 June across two pitches. 

And Bates says the players are relishing the fixture against South Africa U20s ahead of the tournament.

“I know the players will be excited by this chance to play the Junior Springboks,” said Bates.

“They are opponents that we don’t normally get to play at this level unless it’s at the World Rugby U20 Championship.

“It’ll be a big game for our players and a huge test against South Africa who are taking this tour very seriously as it is also important preparation for them, so it’s going to be a proper Test match.”

The Junior Springboks have already played Scotland and Wales in their UK tour, having also played Georgia back in South Africa last month.

England U20s have faced the Junior Springboks in successive semi-finals in the World Rugby U20 Championship, defeating them 39-17 in 2016 and 24-22 in 2017.

And it will be their first game since Bates' side agonisingly missed out on the U20 Six Nations Championship title, losing on points difference to France, despite a final round 48-15 victory over Les Bleus.

“The Six Nations was a really good tournament and I was really proud of the players,” said Bates.

“We used a lot of players during the five games, gave them experience of playing U20 rugby and that will be important this summer.

“During that tournament we had more ups than downs, we had a blip against Scotland but learned lots of lessons from it and the emphasis now is to improve and make sure we are in the best possible shape to perform well in France.”


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