Sunday, June 20, 2010

Junior World Championship - Argentina vs France for Fifth Place

Argentina earned their place in the fifth place play-off final in the most dramatic fashion. Late in the match Wales had the lead only for flyhalf, and one of four candidades for player of the tournament, Ignacio Rodriguez Muedra to equalize the scores at 19-19. With scores tied at full time the match went into extra time but with neither team able to score further points the game was concluded with a penalty shoot out - the first ever in the history of the IRB Junior World Championship.

Kicks were taken from in front of the posts, to the left and to the right and all from the 22 metre line. After both teams succeded in kicking their first 8 goals Welsh scrumhalf, Rhys Downes, missed from right of the posts to give Argentina the advantage. Argentine winger, Fernando Luna then succeded in kicking from the same spot to win the match for Argentina on a kicking differential of 9-8.

In Japan 2009 Argentina finished in eleventh position and in Wales 2008 Argentina were knocked out by France in a semi-final battle for fifth place. In other words, in the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship Argentina have already finished higher than the other two tournaments played until now.

France had a far simplier match and proved too strong for Fiji scoring five tries to zero to win the match 44-09. Both matches were played at the Estadio Brigadier General Estanislao López in Santa Fé. The play-off for fifth place will be played at this venue on Monday, June 21.

Argentina and France have set up a rematch of their pool clash, which France won 31-23, after both teams won their respective play-offs matches vs Wales and Fiji. In doing so, the youth of both teams will have the chance to face the junior version of what has become a huge rivalry at international level. Memories of the senior sides at Rugby World Cup 2007 should provide motivation for both countries.

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