For the second time since its inception in 2008, the World Rugby U20 trophy will be hosted in Africa.
While Kenya had the honour of staging the second edition of the event in 2008, this year it is the turn of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union to welcome some of the future stars of world rugby to its borders.
And Zimbabwe CEO Colleen de Jong believes the upcoming tournament (19 April-1 May) will be a hugely positive experience for both locals and visitors alike.
“Apart from it being an absolute honour to be given the right to do this, from a Zimbabwe perspective it gives us a massive window to rugby throughout the world and an opportunity for our players, from all walks of life, to see rugby played at the highest level at this age group," she said.
“Long-term, what it will do is bring rugby into the forefront of people’s minds; they will understand that this is a sport that can be all-encompassing. We are very happy to be able to host this tournament on behalf of World Rugby and share not just the sport but the values of the sport with our nation and our community.”
Fiji, Hong Kong, Namibia, Samoa, Spain, the United States and Uruguay will be in Zimbabwe for at least 18 days, taking part in the second tier U20 competition that was won last year by Georgia.
Zimbabwe has been drawn in Pool A, alongside former competition winners Uruguay and Samoa and Fiji.
The other pool includes the United States of America, who won the competition as hosts back in 2012, Hong Kong, Namibia and tournament debutants Spain.
“We are very honoured to be able to welcome other countries into Zimbabwe,” said de Jong.
“I know that for many players a tournament like this is a highlight of their sporting careers and we want to make sure they have the best possible experience they can on and off the field, and we believe we can give them that.
“Sports tourism in Zimbabwe is growing exponentially and we are very proud that we can share our wonderful facilities with the world.”
Two venues - Harare Sports Club as well as the National Sports Stadium - will be used to stage the eight team event which acts as a platform for players to progress to senior international level.
“If you look at our senior national team currently more than 75 percent of them are made up of players who, since 2006, have played at under-20 level at the World Trophy which is a tremendous achievement as far as a player pathway is concerned," said de Jong.
“I know that there will be players in this under-20 squad who will go forward to national representation as we bid to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019, which is one of our priorities. Being on home ground means people will get to these players live, in person.”
"I know that for many players a tournament like this is a highlight of their sporting careers and we want to make sure they have the best possible experience they can on and off the field, and we believe we can give them that."
De Jong promises spectator facilities that “are second to none” for a tournament that she hopes will inspire the next generation of players.
“Zimbabwe rugby is very active at all different levels, right at the base of it all are the pillars of our development, which are our community and rural development programme as well as our schools rugby.
“Schools rugby has always been traditionally very strong in Zimbabwe. The National Schools tournament takes place at the same time as the Trophy, and I believe it is the biggest of its type in the world with in excess of 160 teams participating at U16 and U18 level. It is quite some spectacle.
“What the Trophy will show these players is that rugby is not over once you leave school, that there are opportunities for players to still compete, at a higher level and on a world stage.”
De Jong added: “The Trophy is one of the best opportunities we have ever had to grow the sport in Zimbabwe. As well as bringing rugby into the forefront of people’s minds, it gives us a chance to show that we, as a union, can deliver programmes that are right up there amongst the best in the world.”
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