ATLANTA -- The International Rugby Board confirmed Sunday morning that USA Rugby will host the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy (JWRT) 2012 from 18-30 June in Salt Lake City.
The announcement, which was made at the 2012 USA Rugby Youth Development Conference in Atlanta on Saturday, reflects the ongoing commitment of both the IRB and USA Rugby to grow the Game within one of the world's major markets.
Rugby is taking off in the States with participation rates making the sport one of the fastest growing team sports in the country. Olympic re-inclusion has further boosted interest and growth and the hosts will be looking to build on the hugely successful HSBC Sevens World Series event in Las Vegas and growing support for the national team as demonstrated at Rugby World Cup 2011.
Hosts USA join Canada, Chile, Georgia, Japan, Russia, Tonga and Zimbabwe as they attempt to emulate 2011 champions Samoa by winning the title and with it promotion to the IRB Junior World Championship 2013 in France.
The eight participating teams will be split into two pools of four, with double headers played across four match days.
The tournament will aim to exceed the record-breaking event in Georgia, and provide compelling and entertaining Rugby whilst leaving a lasting legacy for the Game in the host nation.
“The IRB is committed to the development of the Game around the world and the USA is a very important and exciting market for Rugby. We now have a 10 year tours and test schedule that will see major international teams touring north America starting this year, while Sevens is really taking off. Schools are increasingly looking to Rugby as a force for social and sporting integration and USA Rugby is reaching out to more men, women and children than ever before," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"The IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy has consistently proven that it is a major tournament on the global Rugby calendar. It's blend of entertaining, high-quality matches always captures the imagination and I am sure that USA 2012 will be no different. The legacy for Rugby in the Host Union and participating teams is proven and long lasting.
“As well as providing teams with a platform to test themselves on the international stage at this key age grade level, the tournament also provides an opportunity to take Rugby to new and expanding territories, and enables Unions to adopt best-practice techniques across areas as diverse as High Performance strategies, event hosting and Referee development.”
“I would like to thank USA Rugby for their commitment, enthusiasm and passion in the delivery of what, I am sure, will be a world-class event and for using the opportunity to continue their great work in growing the Game.”
USA Rugby will seek to build on the outstanding tournament hosted in Tbilisi last year, which saw record fans and increased broadcast coverage coupled with some of the world’s best young players.
Russia’s Denis Simplikevich became one of the latest of the 82 JWRT graduates to grace the world stage when he made his Test debut at Rugby World Cup 2011.
Tai Enosa, Scott LaValla, and Shawn Pittman, who now play regularly for the Eagles at fifteens, also cut their teeth on the world stage at IRB age grade tournaments.
“We are very proud to be hosting the JWRT,” said USA Rugby CEO and President of Rugby Operations, Nigel Melville. “I know the American rugby community will embrace this great tournament and I’m confident that we at USA Rugby will deliver an impressive event.”
Melville added, “Hosting a JWRT is the first step to positioning the USA to host larger tournaments with the end goal of one day hosting a Rugby World Cup.”
Speaking in Atlanta, IRB Development Manager Morgan Buckley reiterated the success USA Rugby has enjoyed in the promotion of its development initiatives, particularly the record-breaking Rookie Rugby program which introduces boys and girls to the sport.
“I am delighted to present USA Rugby with their IRB Development Award 2011 on home soil for their hugely successful Rookie Rugby programme which has seen more than two million children take up the sport,” said Buckley.
“Together with their existing High Performance programs and commitment to both Sevens and Women’s Rugby, the Game is in great shape here as the Union continues to build for the future. These are very exciting times for Rugby here in USA.”