Ireland’s Under 20s won’t have far to travel for the 2008 IRB Junior World Championships as Wales prepares to host the tournament.
Ulster hosted the 2007 U19 World Championship and the province was widely praised for their handling of the tournament. This season the IRB have amalgamated the U19 and U21 Championships to form the IRB Junior World Championships. The Welsh Rugby Union have been selected to host the inaugual U20 competion.
Last season the Ireland U20s, who are sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, won the 6 Nations Grand Slam while the Ireland U19s competed well in the IRB U19 World Championship.
Ireland are drawn in Pool A, which is based in Cardiff, alongside New Zealand, Argentina and Tonga. Hosts Wales have been drawn alongside France, Italy and Japan.
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said, “The Junior World Championship will bring the world’s elite, young talent to Wales. Our aim is to create a top-class tournament that will not only be extremely memorable for all those future professional rugby players competing in the tournament, and their families and supporters, but one which will leave a lasting legacy for Welsh rugby and for the world of rugby.”
WRU Chairman David Pickering, who is an IRB Council member said, “It was a key element of our strategy that all of Welsh rugby should benefit from this tournament and the development plan in place will make sure of that. We are convinced that North Wales will not only play an integral part of the tournament, but will add something extra to the experience.”
IRB Chairman, Dr Syd Millar said, “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.
“We are also delighted so see that the WRU are 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.”