WALES get their World Rugby U20 Championship under way against New Zealand in Cape Town today (kick-off 6pm), and the occasion will be extra special for Gwent youngster Aidan Boshoff.

Although born in Abergavenny, the 18-year-old was just four weeks old when he was flown to South Africa with his mother – who is Welsh – and Cape Town is where he spent the first 11 years of his life, before they moved back to Wales.

Boshoff then discovered a love of rugby, starting his playing career at Monmouth Boys School and Pontypool U11s.

He played for Dragons U16s before going to Clifton College in sixth form, where his talent caught the eye of Bristol Bears, and soon joined the club’s Academy.

He made his senior debut for the Bears in September 2023 when he started against Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership Rugby Cup at Sandy Park and, in doing so, became the sixth youngest player to play a competitive game for the club at 17 years and 346 days old.

The dynamic back, who turns 19 in September, was called up to the Wales U20 squad earlier this year, making his U20 Six Nations debut against France as a replacement and then he started in the final game against Italy.

Having also represented Wales at U18 level, making his U20s breakthrough back in March was a proud moment for Boshoff, who said it “meant the absolute world” and was a “dream come true.”

But, given the fact he only took up the sport after moving to Wales, it’ll be even sweeter to do so in front of his South Africa-based family in surroundings that are home from home.

“They’ve never seen me play, so it’ll be seriously special. Where I grew up is just down the road, about 20 minutes away,” said Boshoff.

“I’ve got loads of family flying in, they’re all Johannesburg based, but they’ve been flying in, so they are all there ready. My mother has flown out too.”

Boshoff says the squad are in a good place following their mixed Six Nations campaign and says they certainly aren’t in South Africa just to make up the numbers.

“On the whole, the Six Nations was a positive. I think we showed every aspect of our game that we wanted to, but probably not as a collective, and probably not as consistently as we’d like,” he added.

“But we showed the potential is there and that we are a solid team when it all glues together – and finishing off with a solid performance always makes it a bit sweeter.

“The hard work that we’ve put in over the past few weeks fills us with confidence that we’re going to put all those attributes together when we go out there.”

Wales face Spain on Thursday and finish a tough group against heavyweights France, making a strong start imperative.

Boschoff forms an all-Gwent back three, joining forces with the Dragons duo of Huw Anderson and Harry Rees-Weldon.

Six players from the Rodney Parade club feature with fit-again flanker Ryan Woodman back to captain the side after missing the Six Nations.

Loosehead Jordan Morris, lock Nick Thomas and fly-half Harri Ford are among the replacements.

Wales U20: Huw Anderson (Dragons); Harry Rees-Weldon (Dragons), Louie Hennessey (Bath), Macs Page (Scarlets), Aidan Boshoff (Bristol Bears); Harri Wilde (Cardiff), Ieuan Davies (Bath); Josh Morse (Scarlets), Isaac Young (Scarlets), Sam Scott (Bristol Bears), Jonny Green (Harlequins), Osian Thomas (Leicester Tigers), Ryan Woodman (Dragons – captain), Lucas de la Rua (Cardiff), Morgan Morse (Ospreys).

Replacement: Harry Thomas (Scarlets), Jordan Morris (Dragons), Kian Hire (Ospreys), Nick Thomas (Dragons), Harry Beddall (Leicester Tigers), Lucca Setaro (Scarlets), Harri Ford (Dragons), Steffan Emanuel (Cardiff Rugby).