Oceania Rugby Junior Championship: team watch

by Staff Writer

The inaugural 2015 Oceania Rugby Junior Championship (ORJC) kicks off at Bond University on the Gold Coast this weekend, a vital part of preparations for major Southern Hemisphere powers as they kick off their respective U20's campaigns.

The end carrot is June 2, where the best 12 teams under 20-years of age will descend on Italy for the eighth edition of the World Rugby U20's Championship.

The historic country holds the event for the second time - Parma, Viadana and Calvisano will host matches while Cremona will be the venue for the finals. The idyllic city, in the northern region of Lombardy to the South, has history dating back nearly 2,400 years.

But we ramble!

The four-team tournament ensures that the Southern Hemisphere has a build-up equal to Europe, who have played a Six Nations U20 championship since 2008 – which has coincided with the rise of the likes of England and Wales.

Australia watch:

Hosts Australia have also poured additional assets into their U20's program of late, holding numerous events throughout 2015 to develop state teams to the point where they can provide pathways to Super Rugby franchises.

In February the Southern States Under 20 Championship saw Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, ACT, NSW Country, Queensland Country compete – while a month later the Australian Rugby Union staged a National U20 Championship in Canberra.

NSW, Queensland, Australian Barbarians (selected from the Southern States Championships), Tonga (invited team) & Fiji (invited) ensured that the increased focus for the U20's program has been obvious.

This has allowed Under 20s head coach Adrian Thompson to select a powerful squad, with the significant selection being Andrew Deegan at flyhalf, a high performing product of the recent national tournament.

New Zealand watch:

The NZ U20's will be captained by Atunaisa Moli in a critical year where the four-time winners of the World Rugby U20 Championship will look to break a three-year drought without lifting the big one.

Moli is one of eight survivors from the 2014 squad that finished third overall, defeating Ireland 45-23 in the playoff match – with the English going on to defeat South Africa in the decider to claim their second straight crown.

New Zealand, coached by Robertson and assisted by former Test captain Tana Umaga and Leon MacDonald (who will oversee defence and attack portfolios respectively) will be looking at fine tuning their game plan and squad.

The head coach and 23-Test All Black has stressed that this tournament, held in Robina, slightly south-west of Surfer’s Paradise, was for the players to perform, not trial.

Japan watch:

Captained by prop Kosuke Horikoshi, the Japanese will play in Italy at the World Rugby U20 Championship after defeating Tonga 35-10 in the 2014 Junior World Rugby Trophy (JWRT) to gain promotion.

The Japanese Under 20s success in recent years has come from increased focus from the upper tiers of the local game, including time spent with national coach Eddie Jones.

Last year at the JWRT, orchestrated superbly by the halves combination of Genki Okoshi and captain and fly-half Rikiya Matsuda, the U20's cherry blossoms scored four tries as they emerged triumphant at the Junior World Rugby Trophy for the first time.

Japan had fallen at the same stage on three occasions, from 2010 to 2012, but it was fourth time lucky as Tonga failed to come to terms with the high octane Ferrari style attack of the leading Asian rugby nation - which they will likely bring to the Gold Coast.

Samoa watch:

The Samoan U20's team were in camp in Auckland for four days at the end of April, departing to Gold Coast after a basic bonding session.

Bedding in old school facilities, a scout camp with no televisions and bunk beds – no hotel rooms – gave the Pacific Islanders precious time to bond and finalise tactics.

It is a diverse bunch, with seventeen players currently practicing their rugby in New Zealand, nine players are with Samoan clubs while three are signed with Australian sides.

Coached by 59-Test flanker Lemalu Semo Sitit, the U20's Manu Samoans will likely look to play with the same physicality that the 41-year-old utilised thanks to his sizeable frame.

Can I watch the games?

Yes!

Live streaming is via rugby.com.au

Can I go to Bond University?

Absolutely!

Entry is $5 for an adult, while children are free.

Updated 2015 Oceania Junior Championship schedule:

(All matches will be played at Bond University, Robina, Gold Coast)

Round 1: Saturday 2 May (times are local)

1.00pm: New Zealand V Japan

3.00pm: Australia V Samoa

Round 2: Tuesday 5 May

1.00pm: Samoa V New Zealand

3.00pm: Japan V Australia

Round 3: Saturday 9 May

1.00pm: Samoa V Japan

3.00pm: Australia V New Zealand

How do I get to Bond Uni?

From Brisbane

- Follow the Pacific Highway past Nerang and Mudgeeraba to the Robina Parkway Road exit (Exit 82) to Robina Town Centre and signs posted 'Bond University'.

- Take the Robina Parkway Road past the town centre until you come to traffic lights at Cheltenham Drive (see local roads map below).

- Turn right at the lights and follow Cheltenham Drive through the next roundabout onto Cottesloe

- Drive until you come to University Drive on your right (about 1.5km from Robina Parkway Road).

- Turn right into University Drive. Use the Campus Map to find your final destination within the campus.

From Gold Coast Airport or from NSW by road

- Take the Gold Coast Highway exit (next to Gold Coast Airport) and head North towards Surfers Paradise.

- Continue for about 2.5kms to Tugun where the Pacific Hwy meets the Gold Coast Highway. Either use Route 1 or Route 2 described below.

Route 1: The Inland Route

- Turn left onto the Pacific Highway at Tugun

- Continue along the highway past Elanora, Tallebudgeera, Burleigh West, and Reedy Creek exits to the Robina Parkway Road exit sign posted with 'Bond University'.

- Take the Robina Parkway Road past the town centre until you come to traffic lights at Cheltenham Drive.

- Turn right at the lights and follow Cheltenham Drive through the next roundabout onto Cottesloe

- Drive until you come to University Drive on your right (about 1.5km from Robina Parkway Road).

- Turn right into University Drive. Use the Campus Map to find your final destination within the campus.

Route 2: The Foreshore Route

- Continue north past Tugun on the Gold Coast Highway through Currumbin, Palm Beach, Burleigh and Miami.

- At Miami State High School, turn left at the traffic lights into Pacific Avenue for approximately 1km to Oceanic Drive. Turn left into Oceanic Drive (at the traffic lights) and head West to Cottesloe Drive (over a small bridge).

- Continue along Cottesloe through traffic lights at Bermuda street on to University Drive where you turn left again.

- Turn left into University Drive. Use the Campus Map to find your final destination within the campus.

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