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SANZAAR announce revolutionary annual U20 competition

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Thursday Jul 20, 2023

Southern Hemisphere’s premier rugby body SANZAAR today unveiled plans for a new U20 competition to kick-off in 2024.

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Hosted on Australia’s Gold Coast the competition will see the SANZAAR unions of Argentina Australia, New Zealand and South Africa compete for southern supremacy.

The competition will be played annually in one country and will comprise a round robin where all four teams will play each other once across a three-week period. The top team after the three-round, six match tournament will be declared the winner.

Sharing his enthusiasm about the development, South African Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said, “We’ve been trying for a long time to organise more competitive matches for the Junior Springboks as lack of quality gametime is something we’ve identified as lacking from the U20 programme,

“It was clear that the Six Nations teams participating in this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship came into the tournament better prepared for the rigours of international rugby.

“Nothing prepares a player better for top-level competition than regular exposure to match situations, and there isn’t a better way to do this, than to play. We are very excited about this new competition and would like to commend SANZAAR for putting it together.” Erasmus concluded.

Echoing Erasmus’s sentiments, Junior Springboks coach Bafana Nhleko felt the competition would elevate the underage programs in each country.

“This is exciting news and we are looking forward to three tough games against talented opposition. It’s a good opportunity for players to affirm their places in the squad, and to test our systems as we build cohesion and momentum for the World Rugby U20 Championship.

“This initiative is an important development for the SANZAAR teams’ pathway programmes, not only as match preparation for the world championship, but it’s also a life experience for the players to travel to different countries and experience different environments and cultures.

“We’d like to thank SA Rugby and applaud the efforts of all stakeholders in making this tournament possible. Each international game at this level is important in helping player development and laying a foundation for the World Rugby U20 Championship as well as the players’ senior professional careers.” Nhleko concluded.

SANZAAR and Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan said: “It has long been recognised that the missing link in our junior pathways was the existence of a SANZAAR international championship for up-and-coming talent. I am really excited that SANZAAR is now committing to this new championship.

“The SANZAAR member unions and I are confident its establishment can only strengthen rugby pathways for young players in the southern hemisphere. Exposure to additional international matches can only benefit the players in terms of experience and adapting to the demands of the top level of rugby.”

SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris said: “This is a vital step in the progression of young talent across our member unions as importantly it will provide extra development opportunities each year for players, coaches, team management and match officials, and will allow for better preparation into the World Rugby Championship.

“There is still some detail to put in place and we will announce this as we approach the kick-off of the inaugural tournament. The member unions are all committed to ensuring the U20 tournament is a best practice event that develops the young talent they have at their disposal.”

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