- Brazil prepares to compete in and host its first-ever World Rugby U20 Trophy
- Canada complete U20 Trophy line-up with win over USA
- More than 16 million rugby fans in Brazil according to Nielsen Research
- Brazil face Japan, Kenya and Uruguay in Pool A
- Tonga, Portugal, Hong Kong and Canada in Pool B
With just under a month to go the excitement is mounting in Brazil ahead of the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2019, as the host nation prepares for its first major global 15s tournament.
Building on the exceptional success of rugby sevens at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the rapid growth of the sport in Brazil, the 12th edition of the annual global age-grade tournament will take place in São José dos Campos from 9-21 July.
Teams will compete over four match days for the title and the ultimate prize of promotion to the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2020.
Canada are the eighth and final qualifier for the tournament following their aggregate win over USA across two matches to decide the Rugby Americas North regional spot. Canada took an 11-point advantage into the second leg, adding a 23-5 victory to their 44-33 win in the first leg.
Next month’s tournament in Brazil will be Canada’s third successive World Rugby U20 Trophy appearance and they will be hoping to improve on their seventh place finish in both Uruguay and Romania.
With the qualification process now complete the groups have been confirmed with hosts Brazil joined by 2017 champions Japan, Kenya and Uruguay in Pool A. Canada take their place in Pool B alongside Portugal, Hong Kong and Tonga.
It will be Brazil’s first appearance in the U20 Trophy and their first time as hosts of a major global World Rugby 15s event, as rugby in the sport-loving nation continues to go from strength to strength.
Since Rio 2016, the profile of rugby has increased significantly with recent Nielsen research finding there to be more than 16 million fans – those who are ‘interested’ or ‘very interested’ in rugby – making Brazil the sixth largest potential rugby nation in the world. This has been aided by impressive results from the country’s national sides with the senior men’s team climbing to an all-time high of 24th in the World Rugby Rankings and the women’s sevens team qualifying for the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2020.
The tournament closely follows a visit from the Webb Ellis Cup to Brazil, as part of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour, which saw rugby’s greatest prize travel across the country in May, exciting and inspiring fans with stops in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. The growing success of rugby in Brazil echoes that of the wider South American continent, which now boasts 680,000 players across the region.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “This is an exciting time for rugby in Brazil and I would like to thank the Brazil Rugby Union and their partners for hosting this important event. Amid growing success on the pitch and more than 16 million fans off it the future looks bright and this tournament will no doubt prove another valuable stepping stone in the country’s rugby journey.
“With a youthful and sport-loving population of over 200 million, Brazil is a strategic investment priority as part of World Rugby’s mission to grow the game globally and the U20 Trophy will be an excellent chance to showcase the sport to new audiences.
“The age-grade tournaments also provide an important development opportunity for the next generation of stars to hone their skills in a competitive environment and I am sure we will witness exciting, high quality rugby throughout the event.”
The tournament offers a platform to develop the stars of the future in many of the emerging nations of rugby. To date more than 460 players have successfully made the transition from the U20 Trophy to test rugby.
Photo: Joao Neto Foto
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