The captains gathered in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday with the coveted World Rugby U20 Trophy silverware for the traditional photoshoot ahead of the tournament kicking off on Saturday.
The U20 Trophy makes its highly anticipated return after a four-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Kenya hosting the tournament for the first time since 2009.
Scotland – competing in the U20 Trophy for the first time in their history, having been relegated from the U20 Championship in 2019 – will face former champions USA and Uruguay in Pool A alongside African champions Zimbabwe.
Scotland captain Liam McConnell said: “We expect each team to be a tough game and can’t take anyone lightly, every team has some really good players amongst them and have played some good rugby over the last six months, but we have areas where we think we can really put the pressure on them.
“It would mean a lot to us if we got back in the U20 Championship, especially after watching the recent games and seeing the standard of the tournament. It’s these tough matches where we want to be playing.”
Samoa, U20 Trophy champions in both 2011 and 2016, will face hosts Kenya, Hong Kong China and Spain in Pool B. Kenya’s best performance came when they first hosted the tournament when they finished fourth in 2009.
Kenya captain Michael Wamalwa said: “It is a great feeling captaining this team on home soil, and in front of our home fans. This is one memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The fact that we are donning the national colours in front of our own fans … many long for this moment and we are honoured to be representing the country on the global stage.”
Japan has the best overall record at the World Rugby U20 Trophy, having captured the title three times in the past. Their 2019 win, in the last edition of the tournament, means the Asian nation is currently taking part in the World Rugby U20 Championship.
The winner of the U20 Trophy gains promotion to the U20 Championship, while the last-placed team in that tournament – either Italy or Japan – will be relegated to the U20 Trophy next year.
There have been seven other U20 Trophy champions with Samoa (two) and Italy (two) closely behind Japan. USA, Georgia, Uruguay, Fiji and Romania have each lifted the coveted trophy once.
With all matches taking place at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi across four match-days from 15-30 July, Scotland will open the tournament against Zimbabwe on Saturday at 10:00 local time (GMT+3).
Samoa then take on hosts Kenya at 12:00, followed by the meeting of two former champions in Uruguay and USA at 14:00 with Spain v Hong Kong China to round out the opening day at 16:00.