Countdown continues to NZ U20s Day of Destiny

Getty Images and James Mortimer     24 Feb 2013     Getty Images

Excitement and anticipation is building in France where demand has been high for tickets for the premier age-grade tournament, which takes place in Nantes, Vannes and La Roche-sur-Yon between June 5-23.

And with the popular French region rolling out the welcome mat to Rugby fans across Europe and the world in June, the FFR (in full) will use its showcase national teams this weekend to further awareness of the Championship, and a fantastic opportunity to see the stars of tomorrow.

JWC graduates have featured strongly for France in recent years and Les Bleus will warm-up before Saturday's crunch match at Twickenham wearing training gear with J-100 (Jours moins 100) emblazoned on the front to remind fans that Monday marks the 100 days to go countdown to the tournament.

France’s women’s and Under 20 teams will also wear the same gear when they face their English counterparts at Twickenham – after the men’s match – and Sixways in Worcester respectively.

There is also an added twist to the Under 20 fxiture as the two teams will face each other on the opening day of the Junior World Championship in La Roche-sur-Yon with both hoping to get off to a good start after missing out on the semi finals in 2012.

Ultimately the tournament will be one of the most keenly anticipated age group championships in rugby history, with the New Zealand Under-20s, normally so dominant at this level, suffering shock losses to Wales and South Africa last year - the latter in the Final which gave the Baby Boks their first U20 crown.

Those defeats were the New Zealand Under-20s first reverses in four years.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "With just over 100 days to go until the world's premier age grade Rugby tournament kicks off, I am delighted that excitement and anticipation is building throughout the Rugby community as JWC 2013 promises to be a fantastic celebration of Rugby, France and the future stars of the Game."

"Rugby fans around the globe associate the IRB Junior World Championship with open, running Rugby played by the 12 best teams in the world and I have no doubt that the excitement on the field will be matches by the warm welcome and hospitality that will greet the teams and their fans."

Last year's IRB Junior World Championship was a record-breaking event, with 35,000 fans packed into Newlands Stadium in Cape Town to see hosts South Africa defeat New Zealand in a thrilling final that was watched in 165 countries around the world.

As well as the England v France encounter on June 5, the pool stages of this year's tournament have thrown up some mouth-watering matches for fans.

The draw was based on final standings from the 2012 Championship and hosts France, courtesy of their sixth-place finish, will face defending champions South Africa, England and IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2012 winners USA in Pool A.

IRB Junior World Championship 2012 runners-up New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and Fiji are in Pool B, while Wales, Argentina, Scotland and Samoa make up Pool C.

Since the IRB Junior World Championship started in 2008, more than 180 players have graduated to full Test honours with their respective countries, 80 of these making the step up in 2012 alone.