Future stars to shine in NZ
The future stars of world rugby will be vying for the right to be called the best U20 team when the seventh IRB Junior World Championship kicks off in New Zealand next year.
The future stars of world rugby – 336 players in 12 teams - will be vying for the right to be called the best Under-20 team when the seventh IRB Junior World Championship kicks off in New Zealand on June 2 next year.
Venues, team pools and the match schedule were unveiled at the official launch at St Peter's College, Auckland on Friday.
Eden Park will host three matches, including the Final on Friday, June 20 - with all other matches including semifinals to be played at North Harbour Stadium and Pukekohe.
Matches will be played on June 2, 6, 10, 15 and 20.
"We are incredibly proud to once again play host to the rugby world," said New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew.
"This is the biggest fifteens tournament in the world outside the senior World Cup and to be given the chance to stage such an important rugby event for the first time is a great honour.
"Two years ago we delivered a very successful Rugby World Cup. I am confident we can once again stage a very special event that will make our country proud while also providing an excellent platform for the best young players in world rugby to perform to their potential."
IRB Tournament Director Philippe Bourdarias said preparations were well on track.
"Following the massive success of World Cup 2011, it's great to be back in New Zealand and getting ready for what promises to be an extraordinary tournament.
"The JWC, which is now more competitive than ever, has grown massively as a result of its open, running rugby, its values and the chance for fans to see the future stars of world rugby."
Exciting match-ups in pool play
The 12 participating teams will play in three pools. Defending champions England, who won JWC2013 in France this year, take on Argentina, Australia and Italy in Pool A. Four teams who have yet to win the JWC, make up Pool B – France, Wales, Ireland and Fiji.
Four-times winner New Zealand have been drawn in Pool C and will face South Africa who beat them in the 2012 final, as well as Samoa and Scotland.
The opening day of the tournament takes place on Monday, June 2, consisting of six great matches, starting with Argentina taking on Australia at Pukekohe Stadium and concluding with New Zealand playing Samoa at North Harbour Stadium.
JWC springboard to higher honours
The IRB JWC is a proven stepping stone to the Test arena with around 250 players from past championships going on to represent their country.
Seventeen members of the current All Blacks squad have risen through the Under-20 ranks.
"It's a really significant tournament for young players and you just need to look at the performance of the All Blacks this year to know that the Junior World Championship provides an important pathway for players to fulfil their potential," said Tew.
All Black No.1126 Francis Saili captained the St Peter's College First XV and was a member of the Junior World Championship winning New Zealand Under-20 team in 2011.
"I have very special memories of my time with the Under-20 team," said Saili.
"It's been really important in helping me realise my dream of becoming an All Black and I know for the young guys who get selected next year it will be an amazing experience to play in front of a home crowd."