While the focus might currently be on the World Rugby U20 Championship final in Italy this Saturday between England and New Zealand, there is a huge announcement about next yearâ€™s tournament.
World Rugby and the RFU have announced that the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship will take place in Manchester, with Sale Sharksâ€™ AJ Bell Stadium and Manchester Cityâ€™s Academy Stadium the host venues.
It is entirely conceivable that England could host the tournament chasing a fourth title in a row, they head into this Saturdayâ€™s final against New Zealand hoping to make it three in a row.
It will be the first time that England will host the competition, formerly known as the Junior World Championship, which began in 2008. Wales, Japan, Argentina, South Africa, France, New Zealand, and Italy (twice), have all previously hosted the competition.
England are one of only three sides to have lifted the trophy, a situation that will not change on Saturday, and the tournament has been growing in popularity on these shores, with Sky Sports regularly showing the competition, and BT Sports showing it this year.
The tournament will return to Sky next year though as part of the RFUâ€™s ongoing partnership with the broadcaster.
Commenting on the announcement, World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said:
â€œThe U20 Championship in England next year will be another excellent opportunity for the future stars of world rugby to showcase their skills on the world stage, following what’s shaping up to be a record-breaking Rugby World Cup.â€
â€œManchester will provide an excellent base for the world’s top U20 teams, and it’s a great opportunity to bring a top class rugby event to the city and grow the game even further in the region. With so many graduates of the U20 Championship now excelling in the international test arena, this tournament, coupled with this year’s Rugby World Cup, will leave a great legacy for others to build on in the years to come.â€
RFU Chief Execuytive Ian Ritchie was equally excited at the Championship coming to England, particularly in the wake of the Rugby World Cup this September, saying:
â€œWe are honoured to be hosting the World Rugby U20 Championship in England next year. We have a tremendous opportunity to grow the game in this country after Octoberâ€™s tournament, and create a legacy for generations to come.â€
â€œThe appointment of the Championship to the RFU is another significant step forward in helping us achieve that goal, ensuring that rugby is accessible in all areas of the country. This builds on a wide range of age grade international rugby that has and will continue to be played across England, including the Rugby World Cup pool game at the Etihad Stadium.â€
With many of Englandâ€™s senior players now products of the World Rugby U20 Championship, fans can be confident that they will be seeing the future George Fordâ€™s and Anthony Watsonâ€™s in action, a chance not to be missed.