World Rugby have confirmed that the U20 Championships set to be held in northern Italy has been cancelled after meeting with the Italian Rugby Federation.
In their latest update on the Covid-19 virus, the game’s governing body stated that they have decided to call the Junior World Championships off entirely.
The Championship which was set to be hosted in Verona, Viadana, Calvisano and Parma from Sunday 28 June to Saturday 18 July, was called off with the wellbeing of the global rugby family at heart.
This followed an announcement by SA Rugby last week that an international series featuring the national U20 teams of Georgia and Argentina as well as the Junior Boks, which was set to take place in South Africa in April, has been cancelled as well as a planned tour by the team to the United Kingdom in May.
‘It is obviously very disappointing for Chean Roux, his players and the team management, but these drastic steps are vital to ensure the safety of the players, team management and match officials,’ said SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.
‘Desperate times call for desperate measures, and as world citizens it is important that we all take the necessary measures to try to contain this pandemic.
‘I would like to thank the players, coaches and management for all their hard work in the last few months, and encourage them to keep on putting in the hard yards albeit outside of a team set-up given the current need for social distancing.’
Italy has become one of the worst affected countries in the world by the virus, with the BBC reporting a death toll of 3 405.
The country is under lockdown as most businesses have been shut and public gatherings were banned on 12 March in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
Roux added: ‘We will continue to monitor the situation and start planning possible scenarios with the Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and his department regarding the way forward for the Junior Springboks and the U19 High Performance squad for the rest of the season.’
Commenting on the decision, Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux said: ‘Yes, we are disappointed but everyone understands the situation and we’ll do whatever is needed to play our part in curbing this pandemic. Working with the players over the last few months, I’ve realised yet again what immense talent we have at our disposal at junior level, and I believe that many of these players have bright futures ahead.’
Further World Rugby tournament-related updates will follow in due course.
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