What's on the Horizon for the Men's U20 in 2020: January Camp, February Tour to Portugal, May Tour to London and Cardiff, June U20 ARC in Uruguay, Spain in September
It looks like a busy season for the men's U20 team, the information is pending official verification but this is what we have so far. It should be mentioned up front that this extensive schedule is due to the backing of the U20 Support Group and the Canadian Rugby Foundation U20 Fund. If you want to make a tax deductible donation to that fund you can find it here.
It certainly is shaping up to be the most extensive preparation for the men's U20 team in history. It all starts with the 45 players invited to the January 3-7 camp at Shawnigan Lake School. From that group they'll choose a team to travel to Portugal February 12-22.
Portugal are just ahead of Canada at the U20 level, there's no official ranking but an observation based on the last two JWRT tournaments. Last year at the JWRT Canada lost to Portugal 49-21, in 2018 Canada lost to Portugal 31-29. It could be argued, based on results, that the gap is widening. Portugal have finished in the top 3 at the JWRT the last 3 years, and were in the final in 2017 and 2019. Canada had their best result in the last 3 years in 2019 when they finished 5th.
Last year Canada also toured to Portugal and competed in a tournament with Portugal, Spain and a French B side. It's possible it will be a similar arrangement this year.
New this year is a planned trip to London and Cardiff in May to play three Academy sides. Gethin Watts was leading the Canada U20 program the last couple of years, before he landed the development job at Bristol, so it's quite possible he's involved in setting up these fixtures. We don't have any information at this time on who those Academy sides would be - pure speculation but Bristol might be on the list.
Then there's the ARC U20 tournament in Uruguay in June. We haven't seen anything official on this either but it's new for 2020. Normally Canada play USA in a two game series, the winner goes to the JWRT. It's USA's turn to host this year. Apparently that has changed and Canada will play USA in Round One of the Uruguay tournament and the winner of that match will go to the JWRT in Spain. This is preliminary information until World Rugby or Rugby Canada confirm with an official announcement.
The JWRT apparently is in Spain in September 2020, again not announced yet. Scotland were relegated from the JWC last year so would be heavy favourites to win the tournament. Spain as hosts would be entered and likely Portugal as the top European side (Georgia, France, England, Wales, Ireland, Italy all in Tier 1 JWC). Canada have won the last three battles (2017-2019) with the USA to qualify for the JWRT but their trip to Spain hinges on the Round One result at the ARC U20 tournament. The ARC U20 composition will likely mimic the senior tournament, Canada, USA, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil plus an Argentina U19 team.
It would be nice in the future to see Canada host some of these tournaments, certainly the ARC U20 but also the JWRT. Since its 2008 inception the JWRT has been hosted 5 times in Europe (including 2020), 4 times in South America, twice in Africa, once in Asia and once in North America (USA). Canada have never hosted.
We'll post more details when they become available.