The IRB Junior World Championship 2012 kicks off in South Africa on Monday, and while for many observers it is an opportunity to see the future stars of Rugby in action, for event owners the IRB the marquee age grade tournament plays a much wider social and developmental role.
“The IRB Junior World Championship is a fantastic asset for the Rugby family because it provides not only high-level competition but also education, experience and cultural diversity to the next generation of international Rugby stars,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“Sport is a reflection on society. Sport is about inclusivity, enjoyment and participation. Sport is also about being a responsible citizen and being a professional athlete means that you are a role model. While these players aspire to follow in the footsteps of famous JWC graduates such as Aaron Cruden, David Pocock and Sam Warburton there are many juniors across the world who aspire to be them.”
“We think we have got the ethos right with the Junior World Championship and its sister event the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy which kicks off on 18 June in Salt Lake City. Both tournaments are a learning environment on many fronts. On one hand we provide crucial anti-doping education and training and awareness of Rugby’s core values, and on the other we want all the players to enjoy the experience and express themselves on the field.”
Away from the field of play and the development platform for players, coaches and referees, the Championship provides the perfect platform to assist with community Rugby development in each country it visits.
For the South African Rugby Union it represents a golden opportunity to leave a lasting legacy of participation and aspiration within the host region as local Rugby clubs will get up close and personal with the participating teams and the infusion of social and Rugby cultures that they create.
Twelve schools will directly benefit from team visits as part of the JWC Legacy Programme with hundreds of children invited to attend matches free of charge. The IRB will also run specialist clinics for up-and-coming coaches, referees and event staff.
The fifth Junior World Championship will see an IRB age grade event return to South Africa for the first time since 2005. Matches will be split between Cape Town and the University town of Stellenbosch where some of the finest players ever to pull on a Springbok jersey have cut their teeth.