HomeSportRugbyWorld Rugby U20 Trophy to boost Zim rugby

World Rugby U20 Trophy to boost Zim rugby

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ZIMBABWE Rugby Union (ZRU) chief executive Colleen de Jong believes hosting next year’s World Rugby U20 Trophy might be just the catalyst the sport needed after the senior national team’s failure to qualify for next month’s Rugby World Cup.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

Zimbabwe were confirmed as the hosts of the World Rugby U20 Trophy competition which will take place from April 19 to May 1 next year, becoming only the second African nation to host the tournament after Kenya in 2009.

Having previously hosted — with success — last year’s Africa Cup Sevens Tournament and the recently concluded Under-19 Africa Cup, the World Rugby U20 Trophy marks the first time Zimbabwe will host an international rugby tournament.

In fact, the last global sports tournament to be held in the country was in 2003 when Zimbabwe co-hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup with neighbouring South Africa and Kenya.

De Jong, who played a key role in the bidding process together with ZRU director of rugby Bright Chivandire and general manager Sifiso Made, said it was important for the tournament to leave a lasting legacy in Zimbabwe.
“Hosting a tournament of this magnitude will certainly have a ripple effect and we are hoping it will help raise the profile of the sport in Zimbabwe in the long term,” De Jong said in an interview with NewsDay Sport yesterday.
“We would want to show the rest of Zimbabwe and the corporate world what potential is there in getting involved in the sport of rugby, not only for this particular tournament, but in the long run.

“We would also want to use this as an opportunity to showcase Zimbabwe not only as a tourist destination, but also as a major player in sports tourism. We hope in the long run there will also be other sporting disciplines that will benefit from this and we will make sure the tournament is a success,” she said.

De Jong said while most resources towards the hosting of the participating teams would be provided by World Rugby, they would also mobilise financial resources for the team to adequately prepare for the tournament.

“We’ve sent budgets to World Rugby which are still mostly forecasts and by the end of the year, we will have the figures tied up,” she said.

“Most of the resources which have to do with the participating teams’ transport and accommodation will be covered by World Rugby. In the next couple of months, we will be engaging potential sponsors, not only about hosting the tournament, but to ensure our team prepares well for the tournament. How wonderful would it be if we were to qualify for the Junior World Rugby Championship?”

Eight teams are set to battle it out in the tournament where the winner will qualify for the top-tier World Rugby U20 Championship in 2017.

Zimbabwe, who now qualify automatically as hosts after having initially missed out, will be joined by African champions Namibia, South America’s Uruguay, and Samoa, who were relegated from this year’s U20 Championship.
The remaining four spots will be filled by the winners of the regional qualifiers from Europe, North America, Oceania and Asia.

Formerly known as the Junior World Rugby Trophy, the second-tier global tournament, which was rebranded to World Rugby U20 Trophy, has become important in the development of the future stars of world rugby.

The inaugural tournament was held in June 2008, hosted by Chile and it has since been hosted in Kenya, Russia, Georgia, the United States, Hong Kong and Portugal.

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