Grand Slam winning captain Ryan Jones has pledged his support to Wales’ Under 20 side as they prepare for the inaugural IRB Junior World Championship on home soil next month.
Jones played in the inaugural IRB Under 21 World Championship in South Africa back in 2002 along with the likes of his current Welsh team-mates Mike Phillips, Jonathan Thomas and Adam Jones, and saw Jake White lead the host nation to the title.
Wales Under 20s, who are captained by back row Sam Warburton, will hope for a similar result at the IRB Junior World Championship, which is being played across four venues in Wales – Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham – from 6-22 June.
“Wales are extremely lucky to host this tournament,” insisted Jones. “I remember South Africa had a huge local following in 2002, which no doubt gave them an extra boost in reaching the final and beating Australia to lift the trophy. It’s a privilege for Welsh rugby fans to come and see all the future stars of the game in action this summer.”
Wales will play their three Pool D matches at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, kicking off their campaign against Italy on 6 June before facing Japan four days later and France on 14 June and must finish top if they are to reach the semi-finals.
Future internationals in the making
“We may be playing the world champions South Africa, but the eyes of the world will be on Wales Under 20s this summer as they host the Junior World Championship in their own back yard,” added Jones.
“The senior Wales players will all be supporting Sam and his team over the next few weeks. We will be following their progress from South Africa during the Pool stages and be back in time for the final two match days, which will hopefully see Wales competing in the last four of the competition.
“Wales did really well to reach the last four of last year’s Under 19 World Championship and I know they are aiming for at least a top four place again.
“There is a huge amount of talent in this Wales Under 20 squad and the senior Welsh players know only too well that in a year or two a number of these players will be pushing us for our Wales jerseys. That can only be a good thing and I’m sure a number of players will hold their hands up for regional recognition over the next few weeks.”
Tickets for the tournament are available via Ticketmaster – Tel: 08705 582 582 or www.ticketweb.co.uk – for match days at £2 for children and £8 for adults. Venue packages, which give access to 10 games each, are available at £10 for children and £30 for adults, while team packages are on sale at £12 for children and £35 for adults.