World Rugby boss has high hopes for Aussie U20s

Brenden Hertell
by Brendan Hertel

He might be objective in theory, but World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper, a former Australia U21 representative, is hoping for a strong showing from his home country in the U20 World Championships.

A former Melbourne Rugby Club captain and Victoria and Queensland representative, Gosper played trials for the Wallabies in both 1979 and 1981.

He joined French club Racing Metro in 1982 while still just 22 years old.

Now based in Ireland, heading up World Rugby, Gosper has kept an eye on the current Australia U20s’ preparation for the tournament in Manchester.

“I saw the live stream of the match between Australia and New Zealand, Australia’s first ever win over New Zealand. This might mean we could see a surprise in this tournament,” said Gosper.

“We have seen New Zealand win about five times, England are going for their third, maybe Australia or Six Nations winners Wales could create some excitement. I think there will be a bit of expectation here for the Australian side.”

The European teams enter into the event off the back of a full Six Nations U20s tournament, but Gosper doesn’t believe that will give the Northern Hemisphere sides much of an advantage.

“Australian and New Zealand compete well when they come up against the Northern teams, as we have seen in the past,” he said.

“They will compete very strongly while they’re here, it is true that the Six Nations is a great preparatory tournament, but seeing the way Australia and New Zealand have prepared, I have no worries for them.”

David Pocock starred at U20s level. Photo: Getty ImagesIntroduced to the World Rugby scene in 2008, the World U20s Championship continues to be a breeding ground for Test level talent and the event is an area of focus for World Rugby.

“The World U20s Championship is a hugely important tournament,” Gosper said.

“We invest two-million pound into the event, as well as the World Rugby junior trophy, which is the other division of the competition.

“We have seen approximately 400 international players emerge since the tournament first started.

“Players who are now household names like David Pocock, Sam Warburton and Owen Farrell amongst others who have played at the U20s level.” 

Gosper believes the Australian U20s can draw a lot from their senior countrymen, after the Wallabies’ 2015 Rugby World Cup run re-ignited some lost passion for the sport.

“If the U20s are the future, the senior team is inspiring that future and I think it should give the U20s confidence that their senior team is highly competitive,” he said.

“That should spur them on ahead of their abilities in many ways. Hopefully the Australians will take a leaf out of that book and go one further.”

Australia kicks off it U20s campaign against Scotland on Wednesday morning at 2:30am (AEST).