Ranking the four remaining teams in the World Rugby U20 Championship

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Four teams remain in the World Rugby U20 Championship after the pool stages were wrapped up last week.

Australia, South Africa and Argentina topped their respective groups, while defending champions France emerged from their pool as best second-placed team.

The biggest surprise, however, was record six-time winners New Zealand failing to qualify for the last four for just the second time in the tournament’s 12-year history.

Here is how we rank the teams ahead of Monday’s semi-finals.

1. AUSTRALIA

Best finish: Runners-up 2010
Player to watch: Will Harrison (Waratahs)

The Wallabies have been in scintillating form during this tournament, topping their pool thanks to victories against Ireland (45-17) and Italy (36-12).

Winners of the Oceania Championships last month, where they overcame a tough New Zealand side in the final, Australia are looking like the team to beat in Argentina, moving the ball at pace while also being disciplined in defence.

Star players are sprinkled all over the field, but in Will Harrison, Harry Wilson and the elusive Isaac Lucas, they boast three players who can often be the tipping point between winning and losing.

2. SOUTH AFRICA
Best finish: Winners 2012
Player to watch: Phendulani Buthelezi (Sharks)

The Baby Boks are the only unbeaten team left in the competition and will take serious confidence after dumping out New Zealand (25-17) last week.

Backed by wins over Scotland (43-19) and Georgia (48-20), Chean Roux will be hoping his destructive pack, led by influential captain Phendulani Buthelezi, can get the upper hand on a dominant French side in the semi-finals on Monday.

The last time the Boks played in the U20 final was 2014 against England, with the Red Rose prevailing by a point (21-20).

Could they rise to the fore five years later in Rosario?

3. FRANCE
Best finish: Winners 2018
Player to watch: Jordan Joseph (Racing 92)

The reigning champions may be lacking the same class as last year’s side, but still have enough quality to advance to a second final in two years.

After clinching wins over Fiji (36-20) and Wales (32-13), France crashed to a 47-26 defeat to Argentina in their final pool game, but claimed the best runner-up spot to keep their title hopes alive.

In Jordan Joseph (18), Les Bleus have one of the most exciting players in the competition.

The Junior Player of the Year is a powerful presence from the base of the scrum and currently leads the scoring charts with four tries in three matches.

4. ARGENTINA
Best finish: Third place 2016
Player to watch: Ignacio Mendy (Jaguares)

The Pumas have captured the imagination of the home crowd with their attractive brand of rugby and strong, attacking game plan.

The home side endured a slow start to their campaign, losing narrowly to Wales (30-25) before seeing off Fiji (41-14) to set up a frenetic final pool match against the defending champions.

Needing to beat France to seal a place in the last four, they roared into life in front of an energetic Rosario crowd to secure a 47-26 victory, thus topping the pool and reaching a third semi-final in 12 appearances.

Next up are the Wallabies.

SEMI-FINAL FIXTURES FOR MONDAY (UAE TIME)

20:00 – Argentina v Australia

22:30 – France v South Africa

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Tonga offer Israel Folau international lifeline

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Israel Folau has been offered a route back to international rugby with Tonga.

Folau currently finds himself in the wilderness after his contracts with both Rugby Australia and club side Waratahs were terminated after he posted controversial comments on social media in April.

The 30-year-old has since instigated legal action against the governing body and is understood to be demanding damages in the region of 10 million Australian dollars.

There is, however, an international lifeline for Folau, should he wish to choose it, being offered by Tonga coach and 60-times capped former Wallaby Toutai Kefu.

Although Folau has represented Australia, there is a loophole that would allow him to play for Tonga.

Folau would have to sit out international rugby for three years before taking part in an Olympic sevens qualifying tournament, which in turn would allow him to compete in the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Kefu said: “We’d love to have him … the next World Cup he’d be available for us hopefully.

“It’s a long time away, so we’ll let the dust settle a bit after his most recent issues.

“We don’t even know if he’s going to play again. He hasn’t indicated where he is going, so we’ll wait until the dust settles and then look at those options.

“He’d have to sit out three years and then even after that we’d have to re-qualify him through a sevens Olympic qualifying tournament.”

A factor behind any potential decision is that Folau’s brother, John, is set to be named in Tonga’s World Cup squad over the next few days.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Tickets for 50th anniversary of Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens now on sale

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International pop star Kylie Minogue has been confirmed to perform at this year’s Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, as the largest sporting and social event in Dubai celebrates its 50th anniversary with a concert on Friday, December 6

Taking place at The Sevens Stadium, the Grammy Award-winning superstar will take to the stage at 9.30 pm to perform a series of hits from her 30-year career.

For only AED400 to attend on Friday or AED500 for the entire weekend, fans can enjoy a 50th anniversary extravaganza, on top of a performance by this world-renowned icon on the Friday night. Tickets are now available at www.dubairugby7s.com and are expected to sell out fast!

Gary Chapman, President Group Services and dnata, Emirates Group, said: “As the longest running sports event in the Middle East, we want all our fans to celebrate our 50 year milestone in style.

“As well as three days of the best Rugby Sevens in the world, plenty of family and kids’ activities and hospitality, we’re incredibly excited to bring one of the most successful artists in history to the stage.

From what started 50 years ago at the Dubai Exiles RFC, the Dubai Rugby Sevens has grown into one of the world’s premier sporting events, hosting the first leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and the second leg of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.

It also plays host to an ever-popular and growing international Invitation Tournament, featuring rugby and netball teams from all over the world, with over 300 teams participating across all age groups.

This year’s Dubai Rugby Sevens is expected to be another thrilling weekend with free entry for all ages on Thursday and free entry all weekend for those under 12 with plenty to keep everyone entertained.

Taking place from Thursday, December 5 to Saturday, December 7 at The Sevens Stadium, fans can now purchase their tickets online at www.dubairugby7s.com.

Travel packages for international visitors are also available and can be viewed at www.dubairugby7s.com/holidays

TICKET PRICES

Thursday, 5 December – free admission

Friday, 6 December – Dubai Rugby Sevens & Concert – in advance AED 400, on the day AED 500

Saturday, 7 December – in advance AED 300, on the day AED 400

Season Tickets (Friday and Saturday) – in advance AED 500, on the day AED600

Children under 12 receive free entry all weekend

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