New Zealand will host rugby's Junior World Championships for the first time in 2014.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) today confirmed New Zealand and then Italy will host the next two stagings of their premier age-grade competition.
The announcement was made at a rugby ball shaped cake-cutting ceremony in Auckland.
Dates are still to be confirmed but matches involving 12 teams in June will be played in the greater Auckland region - at North Harbour Stadium in Albany and the ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe. Eden Park is also being considered as a possible venue for the final.
Almost $3m of public money will be pumped into hosting the tournament.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), will invest $1.45 million from its Major Events Fund into the tournament, matching the Government's capped contribution for an event which an independent consultancy expects to inject $7.3 million to the Auckland region's GDP.
The IRB is funding just under $1 million for teams' accommodation.
The balance for the $6.5m event is expected to come from commercial rights such as broadcasting, advertising and ticket sales.
New Zealand have dominated the prestigious under-20 title, winning it four times in succession before South Africa halted that run at home this year.
The Kiwis will be keen to reclaim the title in France next year and then defend it at home.
Under 20s captain Bryn Hall said players were hoping that holding the tournament on home turf for the first time would help in that goal.
"It was a cool experience playing [in South Africa] and having 40,000 South Africans scream at you, but it made you notice.
"If 40,000 are at Eden Park it will be a unique experience."
The IRB said they had made their hosting decisions early to allow New Zealand and Italy a good lead-in to their tournaments.
"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," IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said in announcing the hosting rights.
"I'm sure that the teams and travelling fans will be treated to high-quality tournaments set against a backdrop of outstanding hospitality."
The Junior World Championships comes less than three years after New Zealand hosted the senior edition with the All Blacks triumphing last year.
"We are very proud to be given the rights to host yet another important tournament in the international rugby calendar. We proved to the world last year how well we as a nation could deliver a complex global sporting event and I am sure we will again deliver an excellent tournament that does the country proud," NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said.
The tournament will be run by the NZRU, with the assistance of ATEED, local provincial unions and stadium operators.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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