Wales Youngsters Now Gunning For Their Best Finish At U20 World Championships For 10 Years

Mark Jones believes his Wales team are on course for their best finish in a decade at the World Rugby U20 Championships in South Africa.

A team that was whitewashed in last season’s Six Nations have bounced back and underlined that recovery with an impressive six-try 40-21 victory over Georgia at the weekend.

The victory means Wales have qualified for a fifth-place shoot-out against Australia, which if they win would give them their best finish at this tournament since they were runners-up in 2013.

Skippered by Ryan Woodman, a Dragons star of the future, Wales produced their most effective and disciplined performance so far.

Jones said: “We’re so excited to be playing Australia. We wanted to be in the top four, but we deserve to be in this fifth-place play-off final.

“Now it is a case of how well we recover and what we learn from the game against Georgia. What a great opportunity to go into a big game against one of the best rugby nations in the world.”

Wales will meet the Aussies on Friday, so have a few days to patch themselves up after a bruising clash against the tough-tackling Georgians.

Jones added: “We haven’t played Australia yet, but we know they have just beaten New Zealand. We felt we should have done that as well in our opening game.”

The Georgians had impressed everyone by beating Argentina and Italy, as well as pushing host nation South Africa all the way, in their pool matches.

It meant they were guaranteed their highest ever finish at the tournament even before they met Wales for a place in the fifth place final.

They hung in during a tight first half which Wales edged 7-6. Then, there was no stopping the Welsh youngsters as they plundered five more tries to earn themselves a clash with Australia.

As Wales look forward to their battle against the Aussies, the senior squad are also thinking about their own clash against the Wallabies at the September World Cup.

Warren Gatland’s players have continued their training camp in Fiesch in Switzerland.

Wales’ head conditioning coach, Huw Bennett says:  “Coming to Fiesch is definitely a highlight of our pre-season.

“It’s something we’ve planned for a long time and we’ve had a good block of training so far.

“It’s our third time coming to Fiesch for an altitude camp. It’s a method of ‘live high, train low’, so we live at altitude at 2,400 metres up.

“Up there you get the natural adaptations of living at altitude, like increased hemoglobin mass and better transport of oxygen around the body. By training low, it means you don’t compromise on the intensity of your training.”

“There are other benefits as well and we feel it works very well.”