World Rugby has today announced that the 2016 World Rugby Under-20 Championship will be held in Manchester, England.
Hosted by the RFU, the tournament will take place at the AJ Bell Stadium, home of Sale Sharks, and Manchester City Academy Stadium in June 2016.
The Under-20 Championship, which is currently taking place in Italy, will see England defend their title against four-time winners New Zealand in Cremona this Saturday.
The competition has seen more than 340 players graduate to the international Test arena since the inaugural tournament in 2008, including some of the current crop of international stars that are set to shine on the world stage at Rugby World Cup 2015.
New Zealand won the tournament (formerly the Junior World Championship) from 2008 to 2011 with South Africa winning the competition on home soil in 2012. England lifted the trophy in 2013 and 2014 and will be hoping to go to Manchester as champions in 2016 if they can win in Cremona this weekend.
Commenting on the announcement, World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The U-20 Championship in England next year will be another excellent opportunity for the future stars of world rugby to showcase their skills on the world stage, following what’s shaping up to be a record-breaking Rugby World Cup.
“Manchester will provide an excellent base for the world’s top Under-20 teams, and it’s a great opportunity to bring a world class rugby event to the city and grow the game even further in the region.
“With so many graduates of the U-20 Championship now excelling in the international Test arena, this tournament, coupled with the Rugby World Cup, will leave a great legacy for others to build on in the years to come.”
The announcement comes as a further boost to English rugby, with Rugby World Cup 2015 taking place across the country in September, including at Manchester City Stadium, and AJ Bell Stadium (pictured above) having played host to the European Sevens Grand Prix Series last September.
With the addition of Manchester City’s Academy Stadium – taking the total capacity with AJ Bell to just under 20,000 – the Championship offers plenty of opportunity for supporters to experience more top class international rugby in the north of England.
With Rugby World Cup 2015 fast approaching, RFU Chief Executive Ian Ritchie said: “We are honoured to be hosting the World Rugby U-20 Championship in England next year. We have a tremendous opportunity to grow the game in this country after October’s tournament, and create a legacy for generations to come.
“The appointment of the Championship to the RFU is another significant step forward in helping us achieve that goal, ensuring that rugby is accessible in all areas of the country.”
The dates and kick-off times for next year’s Under-20 Championship will be announced at a later date.