The 2015 National Under 20’s Championship kicks off in Canberra today with the best young Rugby talent in Australia coming together to compete for the title of National Champions.
The tournament, hosted by the Australian Rugby Union includes a combined Australian Under 20’s Barbarians team, New South Wales, Queensland, Tonga and Fiji.
The Australian Barbarians Under 20’s side includes players from the Southern States, featuring 12 players from the ACT, five from Western Australia, six Victorians and four players from Queensland and NSW Country.
The Championship will also be used to assist coaches and selectors to pick the Australian Under 20’s side to compete at the World Rugby Junior World Championship being held in Padua, Italy this June.
The Under 20’s program is the final step following on from the Junior Gold Cup, in the ARU’s Pathway to Gold program. The program is designed to create a clear pathway for junior talent in Australian Rugby from all age groups to create the next generation of Qantas Wallabies, Super Rugby players and Sevens Stars.
In the competition’s second year, defending Champions NSW will be aiming to be the first team to defend their title.
ARU General Manager Pathways and Performance, Ben Whitaker reinforced the value of the tournament and its international edge.
“The National Under 20’s Championship exposes our young players at a provincial level to a high level of coaching, management, and competition and provides them all with an opportunity to represent their Super Rugby club and or State.
“The Super Rugby clubs have done a fantastic job in embracing the new pathway and have used it to foster the next Waratahs, Reds, Brumbies, Rebels and Force players.”
“With two International sides involved in the competition it will also expose our Australian players to a foreign style of Rugby, better preparing the National Australian side for the World Rugby Junior World Championship.
“It is hoped a fair amount of Wallabies will come through this system, so coaches and development managers will be keeping a very close eye on some of our young Rugby prospects.”
Australian Under 20’s Head Coach, Adrian Thompson will be on the ground throughout the tournament looking for his National team.
“The National Under 20’s Championship provides players another opportunity to put their hands up for selection to represent their country.
“The standard we have already seen from teams this year has been a great improvement from 12 months ago.
“Our goal this year is to improve on our fifth place finish in the 2014 World Rugby Junior World Championship and we will be looking to build a squad that is capable of going much further in the tournament.”