The IRB Junior World Championship 2013 is not just about what happens on the field as a key element of the annual tournament is the legacy programme with participating teams taking part in activities with local children to promote the Game.
The 2013 edition will help to promote rugby in the Loire and Brittany regions of France and the future stars of world rugby are the perfect ambassadors to encourage youngsters to give the sport a try.
“This Junior World Championship is a great asset for the Rugby family as it allows education, cultural exchanges and acquisition of experience,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“The tournament provides an opportunity to grow the Game community and develop participation in each hosting nation.”
Since the teams arrived in the three host cities – Nantes, Vannes and La Roche-sur-Yon – they have already participated in a variety of activities, including Fiji and Ireland visiting a secondary school to take part in a skills clinic with the pupils.
Before the opening match day, the Pool A teams South Africa, England, USA and hosts France took part in a parade in La Roche-sur-Yon with the local population coming out in force to support them and secure autographs with the future stars of the Game.
Wales, Argentina, Samoa and Scotland also attended a reception at the Town Hall in Nantes and the Pool C teams have also been involved in activities with local youngsters since. Samoa introduced one group to the sport of rugby and the children were as impressed with their first taste of rugby as they were by the shape and size of the Pacific islanders.
Leaving a lasting legacy
The Scotland and Argentina teams have attended school tournaments and held photograph and autographs sessions as well as presenting some of the trophies, while the Welsh attended a ceremony to baptise a sporting venue, the Stade Massigné being renamed Stade Bourgoin-Decombe, before taking part in a training session with L’Erdre Rugby School.
The events all proved very successful and everyone involved enjoyed the great atmosphere and the opportunity for the teams to share their customs, traditions and culture with the locals and ensure a legacy remains after the tournament has ended.
Over the remaining two weeks of the tournament there will be many more legacy programme activities taking place with France due to visit children att eh Les Oudairies Hospital in La Roche-sur-Yon and the other Pool A teams attend a school rugby tournament involving more than 1,000 pupils on Monday in Sables d’Olonne.
They will also attend a photograph and autograph session in the Place Napoléon in La Roche-sur-Yon next Saturday.
The team ranked first after the pool stages will also take part in a beach rugby exhibition for more than 1,000 youngsters in Nantes on Wednesday 19 June, the same day as some other teams will meet some disabled children and give them an introduction to rugby at the Stade Pascal Laporte.
In Vannes – where the semi-finals and final will take place – there are also many more event planned with Ireland due to youngsters with learning difficulties on Monday to participate in an adapted skills clinic.
Fiji will attend a school tournament on Tuesday, while the Australian players will visit a secondary school. Then, on 19 and 20 June, the four semi-finalists will meet local youths and secondary school pupils during various events in Vannes.