World Rugby has announced the match officials that will take charge at the U20 Championship in Georgia from 31 May-18 June.

The nine referees, three assistant referees and three Television Match Officials (TMOs) will officiate over the five match days in Tbilisi and Kutaisi.

England are the defending champions after winning the tournament on home soil in Manchester, while 2017 hosts Georgia will be eager to build on their 10th place finish on their Championship debut last year.

With the U20 Championship showcasing the future stars of world rugby, the tournament is also a crucial pathway for match officials. 

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World Rugby High Performance 15s Match Official Manager Alain Rolland said: "I am really looking forward to working with the match officials for this year’s tournament in Georgia.

"This year will see four ex-professional players among the team, in addition to referees who are already involved in the PRO12, Aviva Premiership, Top 14 and Super Rugby.

"The tournament is seen as a pathway for the next generation of international players and for the referees it’s no different. Previous referees that have progressed into international test matches include Angus Gardner, Ben O'Keeffe, Paul Williams, Marius van der Westhuizen and Matthew Carley, to name a few. It's also a great opportunity for our TMOs to experience a top-class tournament and get the opportunity to step up to the next level."

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More than 470 players have made the step up from the U20 Championship to the test arena since the tournament began in 2008. Three teams have lifted the coveted trophy in New Zealand (2008-11 and 2015), South Africa (2012) and England (2013-14 and 2016).

The nine captains to have lifted the coveted trophy are Chris Smith (New Zealand, 2008), Aaron Cruden (New Zealand, 2009), Tyler Bleyendaal (New Zealand, 2010), Luke Whitelock (New Zealand, 2011), Wiaan Liebenberg (South Africa, 2012), Jack Clifford (England, 2013), Maro Itoje (England, 2014), Atu Moli (New Zealand, 2015) and Harry Mallinder (England, 2016).

U20 Championship 2017 referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Nic Berry (Australia), Pierre Brousset (France), Pablo DeLuca (Argentina), Tom Foley (England), Dan Jones (Wales), Frank Murphy (Ireland), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa, pictured above).

Assistant referees: Christopher Ridley (England), Andrea Piardi (Italy), TBC. 

TMOs: Johan Greeff (South Africa), Jon Mason (Wales), Charles Samson (Scotland).