England Under 20 have been drawn against South Africa, Scotland and Ireland in Pool C of the 2011 IRB Junior World Championship in Italy. Head Coach Rob Hunter has said that his side have been handed a tough draw, but fully expects his young players to give as good as they get. “It will be tough – it’s a pretty intense competition,” said Hunter. “We’ll need to have a strong squad because we’ll need every single player. We know a little bit about Ireland and Scotland and it will be a great experience to play against South Africa. One of the great things about this competition is getting to play countries that you wouldn’t normally come up against.”
Having reached the final of the competition in both 2008 and 2009, England got to the semi final stage of the 2010 tournament in Argentina, losing out to eventual runners up Australia and then South Africa in the third/fourth place play off.
Hunter is keen to improve on the fourth place finish, saying: “We’d like to go all the way, but to do that we need to perform to the best of our ability in the pool stages and take it from there. We’re a long way away from the tournament at the moment and we’ll be in a good position to see how we’re developing after the U20 RBS 6 Nations.”
The IRB Junior World Championship will be hosted in the Veneto region from June 10-26, bringing together 12 international teams and 312 players for an event that will deliver a festival of international Rugby and culture.
Three venues will host the tournament with Stadio Mario Battaglini in Rovigo, Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso and Stadio Plebiscito in Padova hosting double-header matches across four match days. Stadio Euganeo in Padova will host the Final on match day five on June 26. The playing schedule will be announced in due course.
To date, 76 players from the three IRB Junior World Championship tournaments have made the step-up to full international honours, with every one of the 12 participating teams in 2011 boasting a JWC graduate in their senior side.
The England age group programmes are a key part of developing future international players and the progress made by both Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs in this season’s England Senior EPS are a testimony to that.
The 12 teams will play in three Pools:
Pool A: New Zealand (2010 champions), Argentina, Wales and Italy
Pool B: Australia, France, Fiji and Tonga
Pool C: South Africa, England, Ireland and Scotland