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Japan Chosen To Host 2009 IRB Junior World Championship

Japan Chosen To Host 2009 IRB Junior World Championship

The International Rugby Board has announced that Japan will host the IRB Junior World Championship in 2009. The awarding of the tournament, which will bring together the world’s best Under-20 teams, is a significant boost to the continued development of rugby in Asia.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB is delighted that the 2009 IRB Junior World Championship will be played in Asia and awarding it to Japan is a very exciting development in the evolution of the competition.

“The championship is hugely important to the IRB in terms of providing a platform for the next generation of international rugby stars to showcase their skills on the international stage and develop into truly elite athletes. Japan has all the facilities and infrastructure to ensure that the tournament will be organised to a very high standard which is vital for its success.

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“Rugby in Japan continues to grow in popularity which is reflected in the increasing number of spectators supporting the annual Top League company championship.

“In addition, Japan has a very strong tradition in University rugby so there is no doubt that the Japanese public will welcome the opportunity to see the best Under-20 players in the world compete in a competition that is second only to the Rugby World Cup itself in terms of scale and importance in the IRB competition structures,” he added.

Mark Egan, the IRB’s Head of Game Development and Performance, believes this is a big step forward for rugby in Asia.

He said: “Japan is the heartbeat of Asia’s growing rugby market and is a strategically important Union for the IRB. There are now over 125,000 registered players in the country and we believe that the tournament, through a strong commercial, media and broadcast platform will provide the opportunity for a comprehensive development and legacy programme that will enhance the profile of the game in Japan.”

While the competition schedule and match venues are still to be confirmed, the Japan Rugby Football Union is looking forward to hosting what promises to be a memorable tournament and welcoming over 700 players, coaches and support staff along with many travelling fans from the 16 participating countries.

JRFU Chairman Nobby Mashimo said: “This is an extremely exciting development for the game in Japan and also Asia. The Japan Rugby Football Union is confident that we will be able to deliver a very successful tournament that will foster the growth of rugby within the Asian Rugby community.

“In addition to bringing international class rugby to Japan, the tournament will give the Union invaluable experience of hosting a major IRB international rugby event which we believe will give a significant boost to our bid to host a future rugby World Cup.”

The inaugural IRB Junior World Championship will be staged in Wales next month after a comprehensive strategic review of international age grade rugby.

The championship amalgamates the former Under-19 and Under-21 championships into one prestigious annual age grade tournament. The IRFU hosted last year’s IRB Under-19 World Championship, with games played in Belfast and Bangor.

The Ireland Under-20 squad, coached by former Connacht and Ireland out-half Eric Elwood, finished fourth in this year’s RBS U-20 Six Nations tournament.

Elwood’s youngsters will begin the IRB Junior World Championship’s pool stages on June 6 with a crunch clash with Argentina at Cardiff Arms Park.

For news, fixtures and other details on the 2008 IRB Junior World Championship, please click here.