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IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy
Melville welcomes "exciting time" for USA rugby
ESPN Staff
July 2, 2012
The USA celebrate winning the IRB Junior World Trophy, USA v Japan, Murray Rugby Park Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 30, 2012
The USA lift the IRB Junior World Trophy silverware following their victory over Japan in the tournament finale © IRB
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USA Rugby boss Nigel Melville has hailed the positive impact of staging the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy (JWRT) and thanked the sport's governing body for having the vision to stage the tournament in North America.

The JWRT, the second tier U20s competition, drew to a close in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday with hosts USA edging out Japan 37-33 to claim the title and earn promotion to IRB Junior World Championship stage next year.

"The JWRT has made a great difference to Rugby in America," said Melville. "It has raised the profile of the Game, particularly in Utah, and has left an important legacy that we will capitalise upon in the coming years. I would like to praise the vision shown by the IRB in awarding the staging of the tournament to USA Rugby and thank them for demonstrating the faith in us to deliver."

"It's an exciting time for Rugby in the USA. It continues to develop and grow stronger. Being able to attract international events like the JWRT to our shores certainly helps us in that process."

The 2012 edition of the JWRT was very well received in Utah with packed crowds filling Murray Rugby Park on all four match days. "Salt Lake City has proven to be a wonderful venue for this important tournament," said JWRT Tournament Director Tom Jones.

"The IRB is very pleased with how it has all come together and the teams have delivered their part of the bargain by offering up some exciting and high-class Rugby. It is noticeable how the standard of play at this Under 20 level continues to rise year on year and the gap is definitely closing between the JWRT teams and the top teams at this level, who take part in the IRB Junior World Championship."

"And on that note, I would like to wish USA all the best in that tournament next year as they have won promotion to take part in the JWC 2013 in France."

The JWRT was won by the Junior All-Americans for the first time after a pulsating final with Japan, during which the lead changed no fewer than seven times. Will Magie's team eventually held out to win before a sell-out crowd in Salt Lake.

The JWRT is an opportunity to view the next generation of senior Test players as they cut their teeth in a demanding international IRB tournament. To date, close to 100 players have graduated from the Trophy to the full Test arena since the tournament's inaugural event in Chile in 2008.

"The legacy of this JWRT will be manifold," said Jones. "The state of Utah now has a fine Rugby facility that has proven itself capable of staging an important world event. Through local media and a general excitement around the event, awareness of Rugby in this area has clearly been enhanced."

"And the athletes now possess the invaluable experience of the pressures and pleasures of playing at an important international competition. That is something that will stand to them as they all seek to take their Rugby careers to the next level."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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