World Rugby has been working hard with unions and regions to make sure that age-grade players have access to international tournaments this year.
The World Rugby U20 Championship and Trophy will not return until 2023, following three cancelled editions, due to challenges caused by the ongoing pandemic and travel difficulties.
However, the international federation has identified and financially supported meaningful alternatives in the form of regional competitions. Two that have been confirmed are the Under-20 Summer Series, organised by Six Nations Rugby, and the Oceania Rugby Under-20 Championship.
Both tournaments are supported by World Rugby as the organisation works to maintain the pathways that will allow the next generation of talent to shine on the test stage.
Under-20 Summer Series (24 June – 12 July)
Eight of the best age-grade teams in Europe and Africa will travel to northern Italy later this month to take part in the Under-20 Summer Series.
Split into two pools of four teams, the action will take place across four match-days with matches played at the Payanini Center in Verona and Treviso’s Stadio Di Monigo.
Pool A consists of France, Ireland, England and South Africa, while Scotland, Wales, Italy and Georgia have been drawn in Pool B.
The Under-20 Summer Series will get under way on 24 June when England play South Africa and France take on Ireland.
Twenty-four hours later, Scotland are scheduled to face Wales before Italy and Georgia go head-to-head. Following three rounds of pool-stage action, the tournament will conclude with cross-pool play-offs on 12 July.
Fans around the world will be able to watch the Under-20 Summer Series via the Six Nations Rugby U20 YouTube channel.
“U20 tournaments have proven to be a successful pathway for young talents in our unions to flourish, gain international experience and prepare for test rugby,” World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said.
“Before the global World Rugby U20 Championship and Trophy return next year, we are delighted to support our unions and Six Nations Rugby in delivering the Under-20 Summer Series, a fantastic opportunity for promising rugby players to compete at the highest level.”
Oceania Rugby Under-20 Championship (1-10 July)
It is a year of firsts for the Oceania Rugby Under-20 Championship as the tournament welcomes Argentina into the fold for the inaugural running of the event at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Argentina join defending champions, and hosts, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in what will be the first edition of the tournament to be played since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Zealand, five-time winners of the Oceania Rugby Under-20 Championship, will hope to reclaim the title they lost to Australia in 2019.
The tournament will be played in a round-robin format, with New Zealand and Fiji getting proceedings under way on Friday, 1 July before Australia play Argentina. Four days later, New Zealand take on Argentina and Fiji play the hosts.
The curtain will be brought down on the Oceania Rugby Under-20 Championship 2022 on 10 July when Fiji and Argentina take to the Sunshine Coast Stadium pitch before the eagerly anticipated contest between Australia and New Zealand.
“The Oceania Rugby Under-20 Championship provides an invaluable pathway for players and officials in our region and has been sorely missed over the last two years,” Oceania Rugby Interim General Manager, Lemalu Wayne Schuster said.
“Oceania Rugby is proud to be partnering with the Sunshine Coast Council to bring this amazing event to Queensland over the next three years and provide confidence for participating teams in planning and enhancing pathways to the regional event.”