Familiar faces return for Australia and New Zealand U20s
New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and Japan will all step up preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championship by competing in the Oceania Championship in May.
The pools and fixtures for the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2015 have been announced.
The future stars of world rugby from Canada, Georgia, Hong Kong, Fiji, Namibia, Tonga and Uruguay join hosts Portugal in Lisbon from 12-24 May for the event.
The eighth edition of this age-grade tournament will see the pool stages held on 12, 16 and 20 May, with the final taking place on Sunday 24 May. Estadio Universitario and CAR Rugby do Jamor in Lisbon will host the matches over the four match days.
The sister competition to the U20 Championship, the World Rugby U20 Trophy (previously Junior World Rugby Trophy) has gone from strength to strength since its introduction in 2008.
The winner of the U20 Trophy graduates to the U20 Championship for the following year. Likewise, the team that finishes last in the U20 Championship is relegated and takes part in the U20 Trophy the year after.
Fiji and Canada are the top seeds in the tournament and head Pools A and B, respectively. Fiji were relegated after last year’s U20 Championship in New Zealand and will be hoping for a strong showing in this year’s U20 Trophy in Lisbon. They will face Georgia, Portugal and South American hopefuls Uruguay in Pool A.
Canada will take on last year’s hosts Hong Kong as well as Namibia and Tonga in Pool B.
The competition has inspired and engaged crowds in recent years with a total of 35,000 spectators attending the event in Chile in 2013, and Hong Kong providing an electric atmosphere last year, something Portugal will look to replicate in May.
President of the Federação Portuguesa de Rugby Carlos Amado da Silva said: “This is one of the most exciting events that we have organised in Portugal. It is a challenge but we want to put on a great tournament for the future stars of world rugby who will arrive here in early May.
“The Federação Portuguesa de Rugby is extremely proud to host the World Rugby U20 Trophy this year and is looking forward to further developing this great game in Portugal."
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset added: “We are delighted to be able to bring the U20 Trophy to Portugal this year. The tournament is going from strength to strength and, along with the U20 Championship in Italy, it is a great pathway for the future stars of the game to showcase their talents.
“Rugby is really on the rise in Portugal, as seen by their men’s sevens performances in recent weeks in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Rugby fans in Lisbon have eight top-quality teams showcasing their skills and are in for a treat at this year’s tournament.”
Entry to all U20 Trophy matches at the Estadio Universitario and CAR Rugby do Jamor is free. Details on live streaming and match highlights will be announced in due course.