27 Nov 2015

Sport: Junior World Trophy spot up for grabs for Pacific teams

12:18 pm on 27 November 2015

A spot at next year's World Rugby Junior Trophy is up for grabs at the Oceania Under 20 Championships, which kick off in Suva today.

Tonga and Fiji finished a disappointing fourth and fifth respectively at the 2015 event in May and will go up against Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu for a chance to compete in Zimbabwe next year.

Tonga lost to Uruguay to finish fourth at the World Rugby Under 20 Trophy in Lisbon.

Tonga finished fourth at the 2014 Under 20 Trophy in Lisbon. Photo: World Rugby / Miguel Rodrigues

The Oceania qualifier was originally scheduled to take place in Tonga earlier this year before being moved to Fiji in June and then November.

Fiji taking on Portugal in their opening match at the World Rugby Junior Trophy.

Fiji failed to earn promotion from the 2015 World Rugby Junior Trophy. Photo: World Rugby

The CEO of the Fiji Rugby Union, Radrodro Tabulevu, says the number of countries was also capped at four in an effort to keep costs down.

"This is part of World Rugby's expansion or invitation to all countries to have equal opportunity to qualify for tournaments such as the one that we are trying to get in to [World Rugby Junior Trophy]. I am not aware that there was a [regional qualifying] tournament like this in the recent past. At the outset there was a possibility of eight teams but now it is four teams [trying to get to] in Harare next year. Next year there will only be two [Oceania teams], only because Samoa was dropped form the tier one nations this year, so they will be there [from 2016] we will have to fight for that one [promotion] spot".

In today's first round of matches Tonga take on PNG and hosts Fiji face Vanuatu.