Wales welcomes IRB junior World ChampionshipSubscribe
IRB 23 November 2007
The International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced that Wales will host the inaugural IRB Junior World Championship in June 2008. The Tournament, which will bring together the world’s best Under 20 teams, will take place between 6 -22 June and is another world championship event supported by UK Sport’s World Class Events Programme in 2008.
Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, Cardiff’s Arms Park, Newport’s Rodney Parade and Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground will be the host venues for each of the four pools giving widespread coverage throughout the host nation.
“The IRB is delighted that Wales will host the first IRB Junior World Championship for Under 20 teams next year. There are few countries to rival the rugby heritage of Wales and the prospect of a new international tournament coming to Wales next year will, I am sure, generate a great deal of excitement and interest within the principality and the wider rugby community,” said IRB Chairman, Dr Syd Millar.
“We are also delighted so see that the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is committed to delivering what promises to be a memorable Tournament. In particular, the inception of a regional format will ensure that all rugby fans in Wales will have the opportunity to see the future stars of the game in action.”
“In addition, a full programme of school and club-based activities, coaching clinics and awareness-raising activities surrounding the tournament will ensure that the inaugural IRB Junior World Championship will leave behind a lasting legacy,” added Dr Millar.
The tournament will benefit from an award of up to £400,000 from UK Sport’s National Lottery backed World Class Events Programme, and is already one of six world championship events secured for the UK in 2008 using UK Sport’s investment and expertise. Simon Morton, UK Sport Events Consultant, anticipates significant positive benefits for Wales as the event host:
“Historically there have been limited opportunities to host major international events in this part of the UK, and with the spread of tournament venues across the Welsh regions we’re sure the rugby-loving public will engage with and support the IRB Junior World Championships. Significant capacity-building opportunities will now be available to the sport in the light of securing this event - we look forward to supporting the development of that knowledge and the delivery of a successful Championships,” he said.
The Tournament structure comprises four pools with the winner of each progressing to have a chance of winning the overall championship title, while each other the other teams will play for a positional ranking.
New Zealand, champions of the final IRB Under 19 World Championship in Belfast in April this year, are top seeds in Pool A based in Cardiff and will face Argentina, Ireland and Tonga. South Africa, runners-up in Belfast, top Pool B in Wrexham and play USA, Samoa and Scotland. Australia are top seeds in Pool C based in Newport and take on England, Canada and Fiji. Wales, who reached the semi-finals of last season’s Belfast tournament, top Pool D and will be based in Swansea, playing their matches at the Liberty Stadium. They will play France, Italy and Japan.
The IRB Junior World Championship is a key element of the IRB’s restructured Age Grade strategy and dovetails with the IRB Junior World Trophy, held next April in Chile, to provide a dedicated Age Grade international pathway for the IRB’s Member Unions.
“A promotion and relegation system will operate between the annual Junior World Trophy and Junior World Championship events, with the top team in the Trophy swapping places with the bottom team in the Championship. This is an exciting development as it means that there is a clear pathway for Unions to climb the ladder to the top echelons of Age Grade Rugby starting with the Regional qualification system,” added Dr Millar.