• IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy returns to Chile
• JWRT to be staged in Asia for the first time
• Tournament will further boost Rugby’s growth in South America and Asia
The International Rugby Board has announced that Chile will host the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2013 and Hong Kong the 2014 event following an extensive tender process which saw an unprecedented level of interest to stage the key age grade tournament.
The dual announcement strategy ensures that both Unions will benefit from increased preparation time for hosting the increasingly high-profile event, and can maximise the legacy opportunities associated with staging a major IRB age grade tournament.
The announcement follows hot on the heels of a record-breaking JWRT 2012 hosted by USA Rugby in Salt Lake City in June, which culminated in a thrilling final between the hosts USA and Japan in front of a capacity crowd.
“The IRB is fully committed to the development of the Game in South America and Asia and has worked hard with Member Unions in recent years to provide increased international opportunities for teams from both these key regions where Rugby is on the rise,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“The JWRT has proved a huge hit among players and fans alike, with its unique blend of entertaining and high-quality matches played by some of our brightest young stars in territories which are embracing the sport and its values. I am sure a return to Santiago and a first-ever visit to Hong Kong will provide memorable and vibrant editions of the much-loved tournament.”
“We are very proud to be chosen to host the Junior World Rugby Trophy,” said Federación de Rugby de Chile President Francisco Davanzo. As in 2008, the JWRT will provide us with an opportunity to again host a major IRB event which will allow our Under 20 national team and the nation’s Rugby family to experience first-hand the excitement and competitiveness of an elite international Rugby tournament.”
“We believe that hosting this important IRB tournament will provide another tremendous boost to the development of the Game in Chile and will assist us in attaining our ambitious goals for improving the international standing of Chile in world Rugby. I would like to thank the IRB for their vision and commitment to growing Rugby across the continent, and for allowing us to host this world-class event once again.”
South America is one of Rugby’s fastest-growing regions, with a 25 per cent increase in the playing population since the inaugural JWRT was staged in Chile in 2008.
Hong Kong has successfully hosted the exceptional Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens as part of the HSBC Sevens World Series for over a decade as well as HSBC Asian 5 Nations Top 5 matches, and will bring a wealth of event management expertise to JWRT.
Hong Kong Rugby Football Union Chairman Trevor Gregory said: “We are delighted to be hosting the JWRT in Hong Kong in 2014. By completing the competitive tender process and with two full years to prepare, we are confident we can put on a wonderful festival of Rugby in a country where the fans are passionate and knowledgeable and turn out in force to see high-class matches. We look forward to welcoming the stars of tomorrow here and promise them world-class facilities and an unforgettable experience.”
Chile will be joined next year in the eight-team tournament by Italy, who were relegated from the IRB Junior World Championship 2012, and six other teams who qualify via regional tournaments, kicking off with the ARFU Under 19 Championship in Hong Kong later this month.
The winning team will follow in the footsteps of the USA, whose victory last month secured promotion to the IRB Junior World Championship 2013 in France.
The JWRT provides teams with a platform to test themselves on the international stage at this key age grade level, and is also a pathway to the IRB Junior World Championship, which has become firmly established as a major annual international Rugby event.
To date, more than 100 graduates have trodden the well-worn pathway from JWRT to full international Test honours with the tournament proving a major testing ground for the future stars of the Game.
The International Rugby Board invests £2.8 million per annum in the staging and promotion of international age grade Rugby tournaments, including £1 million in direct funding to the six IRB Regional Associations to support the costs of organising their age grade tournament programmes and a £1.8 million investment in the costs of staging the annual IRB Junior World Championship and IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy.