The World Rugby U20 Championship 2023 kicks off a month from today on 24 June. The global age-grade competition is returning for the first time since 2019 before the pandemic and will feature rugby’s shiniest talents as well as innovative technologies to enhance the game.
- World Rugby U20 Championship 2023 kicks off in South Africa on 24 June
- Tickets will go on sale on 31 May through Ticketmaster from R35 (children under 12) and R55 (general public)
- Media accreditation now open
- Athlone Stadium in Cape Town replaces Boland Stadium as a World Rugby U20 Championship venue and will host the tournament’s semi-finals and final.
- Exciting innovations will be trialled during the tournament including smart ball technology and TMO bunker to assist match officiating.
- Match officials appointed for both the U20 Championship (24 June – 14 July) in South Africa and U20 Trophy (15-30 July) in Kenya
Excitement is building with the World Rugby U20 Championship 2023 set to make its long-awaited return in South Africa on 24 June, with the U20 Trophy to follow in Nairobi, Kenya, on 15 July.
The opening match-day of the U20 Championship, which returns for the first time since France lifted the coveted trophy in Argentina in 2019 and after a break of three years due to the pandemic, falls on an important day in South African rugby history with the 28th anniversary of their first Rugby World Cup triumph in 1995.
Twenty-eight years on from the iconic moment when Francois Pienaar received the Webb Ellis Cup from President Nelson Mandela and held it aloft to the delight of a nation, the next generation of international players will be eager to put on a show themselves.
To mark the month to go milestone, World Rugby has confirmed the match official panels for both the U20 Championship and U20 Trophy, as well as a change of venue for the U20 Championship in South Africa.
Athlone Stadium will replace Boland Stadium as a venue for the pool and knockout stages of the U20 Championship. A premium 35,000-seater football facility in the region, Athlone Stadium will now host the semi-finals and final in what should be a unique setting in the Cape Town suburb of Athlone.
The updated match schedule can be found here.
The U20 Championship and Trophy are not only a pathway for future players to the test arena but also for match officials with five of those from the 2019 U20 Championship having been named on the panel for Rugby World Cup 2023, including Nika Amashukeli (Georgia) and James Doleman (New Zealand).
Thirteen officials from 11 nations have been selected for the U20 Championship with a further eight officials named on the U20 Trophy panel with history set to be created at both tournaments.
Hollie Davidson (Scotland) will become the first female official to referee at the U20 Championship before Kat Roche (USA) and Precious Pazani (Zimbabwe) follow suit at the U20 Trophy in Kenya.
The U20 Championship panel also features Takehito Namekawa, a former scrum-half who played for Japan in the 2009 and 2010 tournaments but now returns in a match officiating capacity.
U20 Championship panel: Luc Ramos (France), Angus Mabey (New Zealand), Reuben Keane (Australia), Ben Breakspear (Wales), Hollie Davidson (Scotland), Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Anthony Woodthorpe (England), Takehito Namekawa (Japan), Morne Ferreira (South Africa), Damian Schneider (Argentina), Matteo Liperini (Italy, TMO), Ben Blain (Scotland, TMO), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa, TMO).
U20 Trophy panel: Cisco Lopez (USA), Cauã Ricardo Santos Maria (Brazil), Robin Kaluzniak (Canada), Tevita Rokovereni (Fiji), Kat Roche (USA ), Precious Pazani (Zimbabwe), Saba Abulashvili (Georgia), Craig Chan (Hong Kong China).
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby U20 Championship and Trophy tournaments returning after a three-year absence is much welcomed in our global game. It is always a joy to watch our rugby stars of the future shining on this platform.
“The U20 Championship makes a highly symbolic return to South Africa 11 years after the last edition organised in the country; a tournament that the Junior Springboks won on home soil and which the next generation will strive to emulate.
“We wish all the participating teams the best in their preparations and look forward to seeing all teams in South Africa next month for a fantastic showcase of rugby.”
World Rugby are also trialling two new technologies to support officiating throughout the U20 Championship. The TMO Bunker, which has been trialled during Super Rugby Pacific, will be further explored in South Africa to assist officiating, enhance game flow and advance player welfare.
World Rugby has also collaborated with Sportable and Gilbert to undertake the world’s first trial of smart ball technology in a live match officiating capacity at the U20 Championship. The technology, which uses artificial intelligence, will help match officials to make accurate decisions more quickly, tackling a number of common, but challenging aspects of the law.
World Rugby U20 Championship tickets priced from only R35 for children (under 12) and R55 (general public) per day, which includes three matches, will go on sale through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.co.za) from Wednesday, 31 May.
Junior Springbok head coach Bafana Nhleko said: “This tournament showcases the best U20 talent the world has to offer and supporters will be able to watch the unique event at three wonderful venues, where they will get close to the action and enjoy every match.
"It's been more than 10 years since we last played at home and it's great that the prices are very affordable. We would like to see as many fans as possible at all the games.
“For the Junior Boks to be able to play on our home turf, in front of family, friends and fans, is very special, but supporters will also be able to enjoy the excitement of young guys from all over the world having a full go.”
SA Rugby CEO Rian Oberholzer said: “We are working closely with all relevant stakeholders to make this a truly unforgettable tournament for the players and the spectators, and we are looking forward to hosting the best under-20 players in the world next month, and to welcome their families, friends and fans to South Africa.
“It is my firm belief that the World Rugby U20 Championship will assist us in promoting and growing the game, while unearthing the next generation of Springboks.”
Media wishing to apply for accreditation to attend the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa can do so via https://wr2023media.mypass.zone