New Zealand and Italy have been unveiled as the hosts of the IRB Junior World Championship, rugby union’s premier age-grade tournament, in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
New Zealand has never hosted the annual tournament before, although it has won it every time since its launch in Wales in 2008, with the exception of this year, when it lost to the host country South Africa.
Italy hosted the 2011 edition, succeeding Japan (2009) and Argentina (2010). France will play host next year.
The International Rugby Board, the sport's governing body, said the awarding of the next two editions of the event by the IRB Council, “after a robust tender process”, reaffirms the IRB's commitment “to provide future hosts with a longer lead-in time to maximise the benefits of delivering and hosting an event that is firmly established on the international rugby calendar.”
Bernard Lapasset, chairman of the IRB, said: “The IRB Junior World Championship, which continues to break new ground and broadcast and attendance records year-on-year, is hugely important to the IRB in terms of providing a competition and education platform for the next generation of stars to showcase their skills on the international stage and develop into truly elite athletes.
“New Zealand and Italy certainly have all the facilities and infrastructure to ensure that the tournament will be organised to a very high standard, which is vital for its further growth.”
Matches at the 2014 tournament will be played in the Auckland region, at North Harbour Stadium near Auckland and ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe. Auckland's Eden Park is being considered as a possible venue for the final.
The venues have yet to be chosen for the 2015 competition in Italy.