South Africa’s hopes of claiming the IRB Junior World Championship may once again depend on their performance against England, following the announcement of the draw by the International Rugby Board on Monday.
Dawie Theron’s young stars have again been pooled with England, having suffered defeat to them at the same stage in this year’s tournament. South Africa also lost to England in the semi-finals in both the inaugural 2008 and 2009 events. The one success came in 2010 when England were beaten 27-22 in the bronze medal match in Argentina.
South Africa have also been drawn with Ireland and Italy in a tough Pool B while defending champions New Zealand take on Fiji, Wales and Samoa in Pool A. Pool C is equally tough with Australia, France, Argentina and Scotland drawn together.
The International Rugby Board has confirmed that the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town and the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch will jointly host the tournament between June 4 and 22.
In a move away from recent Championship formats, the 2012 event will feature just two venues with triple-headers being played on five match days to maximise crowds and create a festival format within what is a large Rugby heartland.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Junior World Championship has grown to become one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the global Rugby calendar, delivering a competitive development pathway for our Unions as well as a fantastic competitive product which has proven a hit with fans and broadcasters.”
“So far, 111 players have made the step up from the Tournament to win full Test caps, including 49 players who made their mark at Rugby World Cup 2011.”
“We look forward to another memorable tournament in 2012 and the opportunity to embrace the rich Rugby heritage of the region with the dynamic and free-flowing Rugby provided by the next generation of international Test stars.”
The South Africa Rugby Union (SARU) is committed to delivering a tournament to further the growth of Rugby within the country, while building on the record-breaking 2011 edition staged in the Veneto region of Italy which was screened live by 19 broadcasters to 142 territories.
IRB Tournament Director Philippe Bourdarias, speaking in South Africa for the announcement, said: “The IRB Junior World Championship is strategically important both for the IRB and participating Unions as it provides a competitive international arena to test and develop some of the best up and coming players and referees in the world.”
“South Africa has a proven record in hosting wonderful Rugby events and I am sure the teams and players will enjoy a unique experience here next year.”
SARU President Oregan Hoskins said: “We are delighted to host the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 in our rugby-mad country and we look forward to welcoming the teams here in June.”
The South African pair of Patrick Lambie and Francois Hougaard join an illustrious list of graduates, which includes New Zealand’s RWC 2011 winners Aaron Cruden, Zac Guildford and Sam Whitelock, Australia’s David Pocock and Will Genia, England’s Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs and Wales’ youngest ever RWC captain Sam Warburton.