Harare Sports Ground in Zimbabwe will host the World Rugby U20 Trophy next year.
World Rugby Council has approved the decision to take the tournament to the African nation which will take place on four match days from 19 April to 1 May, 2016.
Eight teams are set to battle it out, with a spot at the World Rugby U20 Championship 2017 on offer for the winner.
Hosts Zimbabwe qualify automatically for the tournament and will be joined by South America’s Uruguay, African qualifier Namibia and Samoa, who were relegated from this year’s U20 Championship. The remaining four teams will be regional qualifiers from Europe, North America, Oceania and Asia.
President of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union John Falkenberg said: “We are very pleased and excited that the U20 Trophy will be held in Harare in 2016. I would like to thank World Rugby for their confidence and commitment. Being awarded the hosting rights for this prestigious tournament will have a lasting impact on the development of the game, not just in Zimbabwe where we have a long and proud heritage that continues to grow, but also in the region.
“Hosting and participating in the World Rugby U20 Trophy is an achievement that will inspire and encourage players and fans and promote rugby as a leading sport in the country.”
With more than 600 graduates making the leap from the U20 ranks to the test arena since 2008, the World Rugby U20 Championship and U20 Trophy competitions are becoming more and more important in the development of the future stars of world rugby.
World Rugby Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan said: “The U20 Trophy is growing in importance year-on-year and provides a crucial pathway for academy players from our High Performance tier two and Performance Unions to achieving full international honours at future Rugby World Cups. It is interesting to note that over a third of all players participating at RWC 2015 have come through the World Rugby U20 competitions pathway.
“We’re excited about bringing such a prestigious tournament to Zimbabwe for the first time. I have no doubt that fans will see some excellent rugby on display and that the ZRU will work tirelessly to ensure that this is a fantastic event for both fans and players and that an excellent legacy programme for the future growth of the game in Zimbabwe will be delivered.
The World Rugby U20 tournaments are a key investment priority, with the governing body investing close to £2 million each year in both competitions.
The match schedule and kick-off times for the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2016 will be announced in due course.
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