International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset has hailed the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 as a "huge success", and has thanked the South African Rugby Union and the people of Cape Town for the way they embraced the showcase age grade tournament.
The 2012 edition raised the bar again for an event that is firmly established as an eagerly anticipated fixture on the annual global Rugby calendar, delivering a record 35,000 attendance for the final, a strong legacy programme and a new name on the trophy as South Africa became the first team to topple New Zealand since the Championship's inception in 2008.
“Once again the IRB Junior World Championship produced some spectacular Rugby played in a wonderful spirit in front of exceptional crowds. The future stars of Rugby have shown us that our sport is in very good hands,” said Lapasset in Cape Town for the record-breaking final.
“The Rugby fans of Cape Town and Stellenbosch have embraced this tournament in their thousands with a record crowd for a final. Across the world, all 30 matches were broadcast for the first time to a global audience of 240 million homes. The IRB Junior World Championship was a truly memorable event and we look forward to France 2013."
The tournament was won by the host nation for the first time as South Africa ended New Zealand’s four-year dominance with a hard-fought 22-16 victory. Wales, Argentina and Ireland all secured their best ever finish and both finalists lost a match on the way to the final, making this IRB Junior World Championship the most competitive ever.
To date, more than 160 players have graduated from the Championship to full Test arena since the tournament’s inaugural event in Wales in 2008.
The growing list contains some of the brightest talents in the Game, including Australia flanker David Pocock and fly half Quade Cooper, Wales captain Sam Warburton and team mate Leigh Halfpenny, New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup winning trio of Aaron Cruden, Sam Whitelock and Zac Guildford, England’s Owen Farrell and South Africa’s own Patrick Lambie.
For hosts South Africa, the Championship was a huge success, underlining the enormous appetite for the sport at all levels.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the South African Rugby Union and Cape Town and Stellenbosch for all their hard work, commitment and passion to deliver a fantastic event, which laid the foundations for the huge success of the Championship,” said Lapasset.
“They have been rewarded with a tournament which will live long in the hearts of minds of all those who took part, watched, or were part of the legacy programme and they have certainly raised the bar for subsequent events to follow.”