IRB_Junior_World_Championships_2011November 14 - More than 300 young rugby protégés from 12 countries will hone their skills at the IRB Junior World Championships 2011 in Italy next June.

Dates, pools and venues announced today have pitted 2010 champions New Zealand against Argentina, Wales and Italy in Group A.

Australia, France, Fiji and Tonga will contest Group B, and South Africa, England, Ireland and Scotland will battle it out in tightly-matched Group C.

Games will be played at four venues with Stadio Mario Battaglini in Rovigo, Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso and Stadio Plebiscito in Padova hosting double-header matches across four match days.

Stadio Euganeo in Padova will host the final on match day five on June 26.

New_Zealand_IRB_Juniors_Nov_11The Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR) will be looking to build on the most successful IRB Junior World Championship to date in Argentina earlier this year, which was screened live by 19 broadcasters to 149 territories and welcomed more than 100,000 fans to the 30 matches.

"The IRB Junior World Championship has grown to become a major event on the global rugby calendar and is strategically important both for the IRB and participating unions," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"It plays a key role in developing the talent of some of the best up and coming players and referees in the world, many of whom have progressed to represent their countries at the very highest level.

"I have no doubt the FIR will deliver a festival of rugby and Italian culture that will help spread awareness and interest in the game throughout Italy and attract new players, coaches, referees and fans to the rugby family."

FIR president Giancarlo Dondi said: "To host the championships in our country and in such a rugby-addicted county as Veneto is a great opportunity to take a further step in our operational and sporting development.

"We will see the most talented young guns playing in our country for 17 days and there's no doubt we will enjoy a great rugby festival on and off the pitch.

"I would like to thank the IRB for accepting our bid and I'm sure that the IRB Junior World Championships will give a new boost to the development of rugby in our country."

To date, 76 players from the three IRB Junior World Championship tournaments have made the step-up to full international honours, with every one of the 12 participating teams in 2011 boasting a JWC graduate in their senior side.

Three players involved in the 2010 Championship have since made the step-up to the Test arena - South Africa's Patrick Lambie becoming the most recent with his debut against Ireland to follow in the footsteps of Irish Under 20 captain Rhys Ruddock and Michael Toloke of Tonga.

They join an illustrious list of graduates which also includes Australia's David Pocock and Will Genia, New Zealand's Aaron Cruden, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs from England and Leigh Halfpenny from Wales.