Coach rips up young Wales team ahead of do-or-die clash

-Credit: (Image: Gareth Everett/Huw Evans Agency)
-Credit: (Image: Gareth Everett/Huw Evans Agency)

Wales U20s coach Richard Whiffin has ripped up his team ahead of their do-or-die clash with France at the U20 World Championship on Tuesday.

Whiffin's side are currently second in Pool A at the tournament, having narrowly lost to New Zealand before a 31-10 over Spain last week. With the three pool winners and best second place team making the semi-finals, Wales are currently set to make it through to the top four as the best placed runner-up.

Victory over France would secure their place in the semis, but a win for Les Bleus - the defending champions - would see them through instead, as they currently sit in third after also losing to New Zealand. With so much riding on their final pool match, Whiffin has made wholesale changes to his starting team with just six survivors from the side that started against Spain.

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Captain Ryan Woodman is among them, with the Dragons man one of just three players - alongside second row Jonny Green and back row Morgan Morse - to be making a third consecutive starting appearance at this year's tournament. Matty Young again starts at full-back, with Steff Emanuel at inside centre and Harri Ford at fly-half.

In the backs, wings Macs Page and Aidan Boshoff both return, with Louie Hennessey also coming back into the starting line-up to partner Emanuel in midfield. Meanwhile, Ieuan Davies gets the nod at scrum-half.

A new front row sees Josh Morse and Sam Scott line up either side of Isaac Young with Osian Thomas partnering Green at lock. Lucas de la Rua comes back in at openside to make a formidable back row alongside Woodman and Morse.

“This is a huge game for the boys as our destiny is in our own hands if we want to make the semi-finals,” said Whiffin. “We face a huge challenge against the defending champions. They will be hurting after their narrow defeat to New Zealand so we know what to expect. But we have prepared well and name a side which I believe can take the game to France.

Reflecting on the win over Spain, he added: “We had a lot of possession in the second half and probably didn’t come away with the points we felt we probably earned but we were happy to come away with the five points. Our target was to get five points to keep us alive in the pool and that is what we got.

"Our discipline needs to be better, particularly at the start of games. We are giving teams opportunity to build field position against us so that is something we are definitely talking about and working on.”

Wales U20 take on France at Cape Town's Athlone Sports Stadium on Tuesday, July 9, with the game getting under way at 3.30pm

Wales U20: 15. Matty Young, 14. Macs Page, 13. Louie Hennessey, 12. Steffan Emanuel, 11. Aidan Boshoff, 10. Harri Ford, 9. Ieuan Davies; 1. Josh Morse, 2. Isaac Young, 3. Sam Scott, 4. Jonny Green, 5. Osian Thomas, 6. Ryan Woodman, 7. Lucas De La Rua, 8. Morgan Morse

Replacements: 16 Harry Thomas, 17. Jordan Morris, 18. Kian Hire, 19. Nick Thomas, 20. Owen Conquer, 21. Rhodri Lewis, 22. Harri Wilde, 23. Elijah Evans.