Italy is poised to hold an outstanding IRB Junior World Championship as the teams gather in the Veneto region ahead of Friday’s kick-off, with preparations well on track to deliver a wonderful experience for teams and fans.
IRB Tournament Director Philippe Bourdarias joined Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR) Vice President Nino Sacca and representatives of the 12 participating teams at a special launch at the Palazzo Della Ragione in Padova to officially open the world’s premier age grade tournament, which will take place from June 10 to 26.
The event officially launched a tournament that has now become one of the most eagerly-awaited fixtures on the annual rugby calendar, attracting record crowds and broadcast coverage.
The 2011 edition, to be played in Padova, Treviso and Rovigo, looks set to build on the phenomenal success of Japan in 2009 and Argentina in 2010, record-breaking tournaments that put international age grade rugby on the global sporting map.
Bourdarias said: “On behalf of the International Rugby Board, I would like to thank the FIR for their commitment to delivering what will be an outstanding IRB Junior World Championship.
“This tournament just keeps getting better with each edition and I am delighted to say that everything is in place this year to take the Championship to a new level.
“We have three outstanding venues, excellent facilities and support for teams, superb organisation, comprehensive broadcast and legacy platforms and of course the world’s best Age Grade players. It is an event not to be missed.”
With large attendances expected at the three match venues, a palpable air of excitement is building in Italy ahead of what will be the first IRB fifteen-a-side event to be hosted by the FIR.
“Rugby continues to grow throughout Italy and the Championship will deliver the platform for accelerated participation and interest in a sport that now has more men, women and children playing and watching the game than ever before,” added Bourdarias.
The television audience will be global. Official TV partner Rai Sport will provide the feed for 19 broadcasters to televise 16 matches to 174 million homes in 142 countries.
The Ireland Under-20s’ first two matches, against England on Friday and South Africa next Tuesday, will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 4 and Sky Sports 3 respectively.
Sacca said: “The IRB Junior World Championship is the most important rugby tournament Italy has ever hosted and on behalf of FIR President Giancarlo Dondi, I would like to express our appreciation to the IRB for having this wonderful opportunity.
“The cities of Padova, Rovigo and Treviso have strong rugby culture and are proud to be hosting this prestigious event.
“We are ready and there is no doubt that everything in place from extensive broadcast coverage, superb venues and volunteers to great public interest and anticipation.
“We are determined to deliver a memorable festival of international rugby that will also deliver a tangible boost to rugby participation throughout Italy.”
The class of 2011 will be looking to follow in the footsteps of more than 80 players who have graduated from the IRB Junior World Championship to the Test arena.
The IRB will be streaming 16 matches live and on-demand via the official tournament website at www.irb.com/jwc, ensuring an increased global audience can see the live action for free.
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