The International Rugby Board has announced the pools, dates and venues for the IRB Junior World Championship 2009 in Japan.
The tournament, which brings together the finest international players at Under 20 level, will be played between June 5-21 across four cities with Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka each hosting a pool.
Reigning champions and number one seeds New Zealand top Pool A in Nagoya and will be joined by Argentina, Ireland and Uruguay, who will be playing in their first Championship after earning promotion after winning the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2008.
Tokyo is the base for Pool B where hosts Japan will face number two seeds England, Samoa and Scotland. Pool C is headed by South Africa, who finished third in 2008, while France, Italy and Fiji will also play their pool matches in Osaka. Wales, the Championship hosts in 2008, are top seeds in Pool D in Fukuoka, and are joined by Australia, Canada and Tonga.
The opening round of matches will be played on June 5, with subsequent pool fixtures played on June 9 and June 13, before Tokyo hosts the semi-finals on June 17, with the IRB Junior World Championship final played in Tokyo on June 21.
Speaking from Japan, IRB Tournament Director Philippe Bourdarias said that he has been impressed with the Japan Rugby Football Union’s level of commitment to deliver one of the best IRB Age Grade Championships ever.
“The IRB is extremely pleased with the level of dedication and professionalism that the Japan Rugby Football Union has invested in hosting this major international Rugby tournament. This professionalism is clearly reflected in the choice of venues in four major cities, meaning that each of the 16 teams will have access to world-class playing and training facilities,” said Bourdarias.
“With matches being played in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya, the IRB Junior World Championship 2009 has the ability to engage the Rugby community on a wider scale than ever before. The Japan Rugby Football Union is committed to growing the Game in the country and an extensive dedicated legacy programme will be activated to maximise the impact of the Championship.”
Japan Rugby Football Union Chairman and Vice President Nobby Mashimo said that Japan has a tremendous opportunity to show to showcase Rugby within the country and host a memorable and successful Championship.
“I hope that many Japanese fans will take this opportunity to experience world-class Rugby up close and personal. Also I hope that the legacy programme will create many opportunities for international exchange between participating teams and the Japan Rugby Community,” said Mashimo.
“We are looking forward to hosting the tournament and hope that the 16 teams will enjoy the excellent facilities and experience all that Japan has to offer on and off the pitch, including our warm hospitality and friendship.”
Yoshiru Mori, President of the Japan Rugby Football Union, added: “We would like to take this opportunity of hosting this tournament to not only appeal to the world with our rugby tournament potential, but to also make it our foothold for the further promotion and development of rugby in Asia. We want to successfully host this memorable tournament in Japan to the enjoyment of Rugby fans worldwide.”
The full Championship schedule will be announced shortly.
IRB Junior World Championship 2009 Pools
Pool A: New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland, Uruguay
Pool B: England, Samoa, Scotland, Japan
Pool C: South Africa, France, Italy, Fiji
Pool D: Wales, Australia, Canada, Tonga
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