June 6,2014(ISN) – A traditional New Zealand Maori welcome launched the IRB Junior World Championship as captains and coaches gathered for the official tournament start in Auckland on Friday.


With just three days to go until the Under 20 tournament gets underway, the captains met for the first time before getting ready do battle during the premier age-grade competition.

At the Orakei Marae in Auckland the players were joined by All Black legend and IRB Tournament Ambassador Jonah Lomu who passed on his words of wisdom.

“For me it’s a great honour to be asked by the IRB to be an Ambassador for this Junior World Championship,” said Lomu.

“I know what I have to do in terms of being out here and supporting the tournament but also I’m really looking forward to watching it, because the future of world Rugby is here on our doorstep.”

“This is the time when you see Rugby in its raw form and it’s great. These guys are here to impress, they’re still at the stage where they want to showcase their skills.”

“These guys here could be the new household names of World Rugby.”

#JWC2014 matches kick off on Monday June 2 in Auckland, with the pool stages held at QBE Stadium in North Harbour Stadium and Ecolight Stadium Pukekohe. The final will take place on June 20 in Eden Park.

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said: “It’s a great privilege for us and we really appreciate the importance of this event. A lot of our own players from the past four or five years have gone on to be a fully fledged All Black.”

“All the countries that are here have got their future talent on show. We take the opportunity and responsibility incredibly seriously and we’re looking forward to putting on a great event.”

All #JWC2014 matches will also be streamed live on IRB.com however some regions will be geo-blocked due to rights agreements. Viewers should check with the broadcaster in their region for more details.