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The Men’s Junior All Americans are 1-1 in the World Rugby Junior World Trophy, having fallen 46-44 to Namibia in the opener and beaten Hong Kong 32-12. Wednesday they play Spain in their final pool match, and they still have a chance to top Pool B and reach the championship match. Currently Samoa is in control of Pool A, but Uruguay is in a similar situation as the USA in that a win over Samoa could see it through.
Spain, 2-0, leads the group right now with 10 points. The USA is in second with seven. So, barring a scenario where Spain earns two bonus points in a loss and the Americans win but don’t get a bonus point, the MJAAs will advance to the final with a victory. So they control their own destiny.
And the man perhaps most capable of individually dictating the team’s destiny is barnstorming captain and No. 8 Hanco Germishuys, who’s run in five tries in two games. Both Hong Kong and Namibia struggled to contain his hard-charging runs. Germishuys has been on the age-grade scene for several year now, playing at practically every level, including earning his first senior cap this spring in the Americas Rugby Championship.
Having run with grown men at the highest level, he looks like a men amongst boys at the JWT.
“It's great to see the progression that Hanco has made through the age grade system and the culmination of an international cap with the Eagles,” said U20s coach JD Stephenson. “He's been fantastic in terms of leadership and professionalism throughout the tournament and has been great on the pitch.”
Spain isn’t an easy target for Stephenson and his troops. The Spaniards hammered Hong Kong 44-8 and won relatively comfortably against Namibia, 40-22.
“The Spanish set piece has been great throughout the tournament, and their ability to use the foot for a territorial advantage has worked well for their side,” said Stephenson. “Our back three positioning, continuity in attack and ensuring the ball in play will allow for good running rugby against a big Spanish side.”
Another factor in this competition has been, and will continue to be, the experimental scoring system in play. World Rugby is tinkering with six-point tries and two-point conversions, and it’s impacted decision making in Zimbabwe.
“The ELVs have made for an interesting take on tactics for the tournament,” observed Stephenson. “Where once you would be less inclined to infringe to give a side three points, the scoring system has seen sides quick tap, take a scrum or kick for the corner and look for the eight points. It's been great to see the high scoring of matches and the ball in play longer than traditionally.”