The world’s 12 best teams will compete across five match days in northern Italy, bidding to succeed France as champions with the winners to be crowned at Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma – home of PRO14 side Zebre – on 18 July.
The pool matches will be played in Verona’s brand new Payanini Center, Viadana’s Stadio Sergio Zaffanella and Peroni Stadium in Calvisano, home of the reigning Italian national champions.
While Verona will host matches for the first time, Viadana, Parma and Calvisano did so when Italy last hosted the U20 Championship in 2015 and all three will stage the play-off rounds.
Wales head coach Gareth Williams guided his side to the 5th Place Play-off in his first campaign last year in Argentina but he know the odds are stacked heavily against his side in Pool B as they face six-times champions New Zealand and last year’s runners-up Australia along with Georgia who have claimed major scalps in recent years.
“It’s always exciting to learn what the draw is,” he said. “The Six Nations plays a big part in our preparation for the Junior World Cup, so with us coming together as an official Six Nations squad next week, this acts as another timely reminder of our longer term ambitions.
“This group is as tough as it gets, and having Italy as hosts will be fantastic. Georgia are a tough side, with excellent pedigree at this level, while New Zealand’s record needs no reminder for us.
“Australia’s performance last season was hugely impressive, and the opportunity to test ourselves in such company is exactly what we want to expose young Welsh players to. It’s going to be very exciting.”
Two-time defending champions France are joined in Pool A by Argentina, Ireland and Japan, the latter returning to the tournament after winning the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2019, while hosts Italy have been grouped with 2012 winners South Africa, three-time champions England and Fij in Pool C.
The three pool winners and the best runner-up across the pools will progress to the semi-finals and keep alive their hopes of lifting the distinctive trophy.
A total of 690 players have graduated from the U20 Championship to the test arena since it began in 2008, including 16 members of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup 2019 winning squad, among them captain Siya Kolisi, Handré Pollard and World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit.
It will be the third time the U20 Championship has been hosted in Italy with the Veneto region the location for the 2011 edition, when the likes of Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick and Sam Cane helped New Zealand win a fourth successive title New Zealand will be bidding for a third title on Italian soil having also won in 2015.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Every year the World Rugby U20 Championship showcases the most promising young rugby players and we see year after year graduates from the competition succeeding at the highest level.
“Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan featured 228 players who initially represented their country in this tournament and I invite all rugby fans to follow matches closely for the next rugby stars of tomorrow.
“Italy have proved incredible hosts in the past and we are confident rugby strongholds like Viadana, Calvisano, Verona and Parma will deliver the best possible stage for the tournament.”
World Rugby U20 Championship 2020 match schedule
Match Day 1 – Sunday 28 June
South Africa v Italy – 16:00, Verona
England v Fiji – 18:30, Verona
Australia v Georgia – 21:00, Verona
France v Japan – 16:00, Calvisano
Wales v New Zealand, 18:30, Calvisano
Argentina v Ireland – 21:00, Calvisano
Match Day 2 – Friday 3 July
Australia v New Zealand – 16:00, Verona
Wales v Georgia – 18:30, Verona
South Africa v Fiji – 21:00, Verona
France v Ireland – 16:00, Calvisano
Argentina v Japan – 18:30, Calvisano
England v Italy – 21:00, Calvisano
Match Day 3 – Wednesday 8 July
Ireland v Japan – 16:00, Verona
France v Argentina – 18:30, Verona
Australia v Wales – 21:00, Verona
New Zealand v Georgia – 16:00, Viadana
South Africa v England – 18:30, Viadana
Fiji v Italy – 21:00, Viadana
Match Day 4 – Semi-finals and play-offs – Monday 13 July
For rankings 9-12
10th v 11th – 16:00, Viadana
9th v 12th – 18:30, Viadana
For rankings 5-8
6th v 7th – 21:00, Viadana
5th v 8th – 16:00, Calvisano
2nd v 3rd – 18:30, Calvisano
1st v 4th – 21:00, Calvisano
Match Day 5 – Final and play-offs – Saturday 18 July
11th place play-off – 16:00, Viadana
Ninth place play-off – 18:30, Viadana
Seventh place play-off – 21:00, Viadana
Fifth place play-off* – 16:00, Parma
Bronze final – 18:30, Parma
Final – 21:00, Parma