SA geared for Junior World Champs

Saru and the IRB officially announced the 2012 Junior World Championship schedule in Cape Town on Monday.

It’s been 11 months since IRB Junior World Championship tournament director Philippe Bourdarias named South Africa as the hosts of the 2012 tournament. At Saru’s offices in Newlands on Wednesday, both unions released the tournament schedule, which is the first major step in terms of final preparations.

The tournament kicks off on 4 June, and will have five match days in total. Stellenbosch University and the University of the Western Cape will provide the match venues and training facilities for all 30 fixtures.

Bourdarias and his team, who have spent the past three days in Cape Town, have been impressed with what they’ve seen so far.

‘We have completed a comprehensive round of site visits this week and I have no doubt the IRB Junior World Championship will be a very special event in a country which is world renowned for its exceptional tournament management,’ said Bourdarias. ‘The JWC will be watched by millions of fans across the world thanks to an unprecedented television platform by SuperSport, while we are confident that the rugby-loving public in and around Cape Town and Stellenbosch will ensure that all match days are well attended, generating a uniquely South African atmosphere.’

SuperSport will be the host broadcaster and will televise all 30 matches – the first for a Junior World Championship.

There are concerns ahead of the tournament. June will be winter season in Cape Town, while the universities will be busy with exams and the students go on holiday once they’re finished writing. This could have a negative effect on the crowd attendances. However, Saru general manager Andy Marinos is confident that these issues will be resolved.

‘We have certain plans in place to maximise interest,’ Marinos told keo.co.za. ‘We would obviously love a capacity crowds for all the matches, but we have to be realistic. We’re aiming for an average of a 60% or 70% filled stadium for the tournament. We’re hoping supporters of all ages jump on board and support this international youth competition. This is where tomorrow’s stars are born.’

The Baby Boks find themselves in Pool B, along with England, Ireland and Italy. It is one of the toughest groups, as England and Ireland are the in-form teams at this year’s U20 Six Nations. Four-time champions New Zealand are in Pool A, while Australia, France, Argentina and Scotland make up another tricky group in Pool C.

JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POOLS:

Pool A - New Zealand, Fiji, Wales, Samoa
Pool B - England, South Africa, Ireland, Italy
Pool C – Australia, France, Argentina, Scotland

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE:

MONDAY, 4 JUNE:
Australia vs Scotland, UWC (14:45 k/o)
Wales vs Fiji, Stellenbosch (14:45 k/o)
England vs Italy, UWC (16:45 k/o)
New Zealand vs Samoa, Stellenbosch (16:45 k/o)
France vs Argentina, UWC (18:45 k/o)
South Africa vs Ireland, Stellenbosch (18:45 k/o)

FRIDAY, 8 JUNE:
Fiji vs Samoa, UWC (14:45 k/o)
Australia vs Argentina, Stellenbosch (14:45 k/o)
France vs Scotland, UWC (16:45 k/o)
New Zealand vs Wales, Stellenbosch (16:45 k/o)
South Africa vs Italy, UWC (18:45 k/o)
England v Ireland, Stellenbosch (18:45 k/o)

TUESDAY, 12 JUNE:
Argentina vs Scotland, UWC (14:45 k/o)
Ireland vs Italy, Stellenbosch (14:45 k/o)
Wales vs Samoa, UWC (16:45 k/o)
France vs Australia, Stellenbosch (16:45 k/o)
New Zealand vs Fiji, UWC (18:45 k/o)
South Africa vs England, Stellenbosch (18:45 k/o)

SUNDAY, 17 JUNE:
9th-12th place play-offs
10th seed vs 11th seed, UWC (12:45 k/o)
9th seed vs 12th seed, UWC (14:45 k/o)
5th-8th place play-offs
6th seed vs 7th seed, UWC (17:00 k/o)
5th seed vs 8th seed, Stellenbosch (14:45 k/o)
Semi-finals
2nd seed vs 3rd seed, Stellenbosch (16:30 k/o)
1st seed vs 4th seed, Stellenbosch (18:45 k/o)

FRIDAY, 22 JUNE:
Final day
9th/10th place play-off, UWC (12:00 k/o)
11th/12th place play-off, UWC (14:45 k/o)
8th/7th place play-off, UWC (16:30 k/o)
5th/6th place play-off, Stellenbosch (14:15 k/o)
3rd/4th place play-off, Stellenbosch (16:30 k/o)
Final, Stellenbosch (18:45 k/o)

By Gareth Duncan