The match schedule and kick-off times for next year’s World Rugby U20 Championship (formerly IRB Junior World Championship) have been announced.
Australia has been drawn in a daunting Pool B alongside 2014 Finalists South Africa, Samoa and host nation Italy. The Green and Gold begins its campaign for glory on Match Day One against Samoa in Parma on Tuesday, 2 June. Match Day Two sees Australia play the hosts Italty - once again in Parma - on Saturday, 6 June, before rounding out the pool stage in a monumental clash with South Africa in Calvisano four days later.
The tournament which runs from 2-20 June, 2015 in northern Italy sees England returning to defend their crown which they retained in June in New Zealand after winning the tournament for the first time in 2013.
Four venues will host the U20 Championship this year – Parma, Calvisano, Viadana with the final held in Cremona on 20 June.
The opening day of the tournament sees hosts Italy take on South Africa, England play Japan, who return to the U20 competition for the first time since 2009 and four time winners New Zealand v Scotland in Parma. As in previous years, six matches will be played on each match day, and this year kick-off times are set for 16:30, 18:30 and 20:30 (local time).
The three Pool winners qualify for the Semi-Finals with the best-placed second-placed team also making it to the last four.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “It’s great to be bringing the World Rugby U20 Championship back to Italy after they hosted such a successful tournament in 2011. The fixture list has some great matches that will showcase the future stars of world rugby during a very important year for the game.”
“More than 300 players have made the step up from the U20 Championship to the international test arena since 2008 and I have no doubt there will be further players graduating up the ranks after this tournament.”
FIR tournament director Tullio Rosolen said: "We are confident this is an exciting schedule.”
"New Zealand will play a match in each of the venues, England will be divided between Calvisano and Viadana, South Africa will be in Calvisano and Parma as well as the Italian U20 team, so the main contenders for the title and the national team will ensure fans in the region get to see the future stars of world rugby in action.
International stars such as Aaron Cruden and Julia Savea from New Zealand, Australian Quade Cooper, France centre Mathieu Bastareaud, Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray, England backs George Ford and Owen Farrell and South African fly-half Handré Pollard are just some of the players to graduate from the U20 Championship to international test level.
Italy centre Luca Morisi, who also represented his country at U20 level, is ambassador for the tournament in Italy next year.
Australia finished the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship fifth after narrowly missing out on a Semi-Final berth after the Pool stages. Adrian Thompson's side eventually beat France 34-27 after a gripping fifth-place play-off match at Eden Park in Auckland.
Australia match schedule for the World Rugby U20 Championship 2015:
Wednesday 3 June: Australia v Samoa, Pool B, 2.30am (AEST)
Sunday 7 June: Australia v Italy, Pool B, 6.30am (AEST)
Thursday, 11 June: Australia v South Africa, Pool B, 6.30am (AEST)