The International Rugby Board has confirmed that Kenya will host the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2009. The awarding of the international Under 20 tournament, which will be played next April, is another major boost to the ongoing development of the Game in Africa.
"The IRB is delighted that the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy tournament will be hosted in Africa in 2009 and awarding it to Kenya is another significant development in the evolution of this exciting international Age Grade competition."
The Trophy is a very important tournament in terms of player development across developing nations, allowing future Test players the opportunity to showcase their abilities on a global stage against opposition they would not normally face," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"Africa is a key region for the IRB. Last year an historic accord was signed with the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) aimed at jointly fostering sport and Rugby in Africa. The popularity of Rugby across Africa continues to grow and the Kenya Rugby Football Union's hosting of this major international Age Grade tournament further underlines the appetite and enthusiasm for the sport that is bringing Rugby close to inclusion in the All Africa Games."
"The Kenya Rugby Football Union is uniquely placed to host a successful IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy that will deliver excellent facilities and will provide the platform to showcase Rugby within Africa. The Union has an excellent track record in hosting major international Rugby events, including the successful Safari Sevens and CAR (Confederation of African Rugby) Regional tournaments. The IRB was impressed with the Union's enthusiasm and commitment to hosting this tournament and I am sure that IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2009 will be a huge success," added Lapasset.
Mark Egan, the IRB's Head of Game Development and Performance, believes that hosting the Trophy will be a significant boost to the development of Rugby across the Africa region. "This is a big step forward for the Game in Africa, which is a strategically important growth region for the IRB. The hosting of this important IRB strategic tournament in Kenya will put Rugby on the map, leaving a lasting development legacy in the region and giving Kenya the opportunity to gain from the experience of hosting a major international Rugby tournament."
The competition schedule is yet to be confirmed, but the Kenya Rugby Football Union is looking forward to hosting the tournament, which will welcome over 250 players, coaches and support staff along with many travelling fans from the eight participating countries.
"The Kenya Rugby Football Union is delighted at the opportunity to host the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy and become the first African nation to do so. Rugby in Kenya continues to grow in schools and colleges and this tournament will serve as a further boost to interest and participation in Rugby in the country. We are looking forward to the challenge of hosting this major international Age Grade tournament and showcasing what Kenya has to offer," said Kenya Rugby Football Union Chairman Richard Omwela.
The qualifying process for next year's tournament is well underway. So far Namibia (CAR), Cayman Islands (NAWIRA), Papua New Guinea (FORU), Romania (FIRA), USA (relegated from the IRB Junior World Championship 2008) and hosts Kenya are confirmed for the tournament with further regional qualifiers taking place in Asia and South America before the end of November.
The winners of the Trophy in Kenya will be promoted to the IRB Junior World Championship 2010, swapping places with the last-placed team at next year's tournament in Japan. The inaugural IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in Chile earlier this year was won by Uruguay, who beat the hosts in the final and will replace USA at the IRB Junior World Championship 2009.
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