Under 20s to be welcomed ahead of World Championship

New Zealand are next cab off the rank tomorrow morning (NZT) for the team welcome ceremonies ahead of the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Manchester.

The ceremonies are taking place across England's north-west to celebrate the world's top young rugby talent arriving in the country.

New Zealand will be formally welcomed at Broughton Park at 2.30am (NZT).

The welcome ceremonies formally greet each competing team to England ahead of the tournament and take place at the 12 training bases across the north-west. Each ceremony includes an activity relating to a team's respective country's heritage and culture, medal presentations to the players, a guard of honour by the club's minis and juniors and a plaque presentation to the club to mark their role in the tournament.

Bill Beaumont, chairman of England Rugby, said :"Throughout the past couple of weeks we have seen a fantastic buzz across the north-west as the trophy visited clubs, schools and iconic locations as part of the World Rugby U20 Championship build-up. As the teams begin to arrive we have seen this excitement further heightened in anticipation for the start of the tournament, with a number of local clubs and schools getting the chance to meet the future stars of rugby and celebrate this great occasion."

Argentina were the first team to arrive on English soil, welcomed to their training base Stockport RUFC with a guard of honour from the club's excited minis and juniors last week. The Pumitas were treated to a BBQ in the Manchester sunshine before being presented with their participation medals.

Current title holders New Zealand will be the next team welcomed to their training base at Broughton Park FC, home to Uruguay during Rugby World Cup 2015. The team will take to the stage and perform the haka and waiata for the local children.

Continuing with tradition, France will be treated to a rendition of La Marseillaise by Flixton Brass Band and a traditional English tea party to bring them a taste of the host country during their ceremony at Ashton-on-Mersey on Saturday, while the Scotland team will be welcomed to Bury RUFC to the sounds of their homeland, with a 30-piece pipe and drum band greeting them into their team base on Sunday.

Georgia and South Africa will then be welcomed by their respective training bases on Saturday, before Ireland, Italy, Australia and home team England arrive at their home away from home on Sunday.

Finally, Wales will be introduced to the tournament by Aldwinians RUFC before Japan complete the introductions on June 12 at Lymm RFC.

Alongside the formal proceedings there will be touch sessions, family fun days and barbeques taking place across the team training bases, giving local youngsters the chance to meet the players and celebrate the official start of the tournament.

*The tournament will be broadcast to 111 countries. Some games are already sold out.

New Zealand kicks off their campaign against Georgia on Wednesday morning at 6.45am (NZT).

- NZ Herald

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