Match officials from Argentina, Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Wales and South Africa will take charge of the World Rugby U20 Championship 2016 when it kicks off in June.

The pinnacle of age-grade rugby, the tournament has so far produced more than 400 graduates to the test arena. However, the U20 Championship is also seen as a crucial development tournament for the world’s best emerging match officials with many of the current top international referees having previously appeared at this tournament.

Two-time winners England will host the tournament for the first time this year when teams visit Manchester, with matches played at the AJ Bell Stadium and Manchester City Academy Stadium from 7-25 June.

With New Zealand looking to retain the trophy they won last year in Italy and England, last year’s beaten finalists, looking to impress on home soil, the stage is set for one of the most competitive U20 Championships, meaning officials will have high-intensity, high-stakes conditions to deal with.

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World Rugby High Performance Match Officials Manager Joël Jutge said: “The U20 Championship is a crucial platform for referees to take the next step up.

“With the level of competition increasing year on year, the tournament is an important part of our process to develop referees. They are aided by referee selectors and coaches, and the feedback they receive will benefit them for years to come. Hopefully, they will go on to flourish at the elite level of the game.

"We are now seeing the majority of U20 Championship referees move up to the elite level and I have no doubt that this quality group of match officials can do the same." 

Italian match official Elia Rizzo (pictured) will referee at his second U20 Championship, after also being chosen for last year’s tournament in his native country.

"I'm very excited to have been appointed for my second World Rugby U20 Championship," said the 26-year-old.

"The championship is a fantastic competition and it represents a great opportunity for young referees to prove themselves at such a tough tournament. My experience last year helped me improve and really tested my skills as a referee. I can't wait to take charge of the future stars of world rugby in June and I'm sure it will be an unforgettable event in Manchester.”

Matches will be played on 7, 11, 15, 20 and 25 June.

World Rugby U20 Championship 2016: Match Officials

Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Thomas Charabas (France)
Graham Cooper (Australia)
Craig Evans (Wales)
Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
Craig Maxwell Keys (England)
Elia Rizzo (Italy)
Juan Sylvestre (Argentina)
Paul Williams (New Zealand)

See the future stars of rugby at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester this June. For more information, including how to buy tickets, visit www.englandrugby.com/u20championship #FutureStarsofRugby #WorldRugbyU20s