THIS summer's World Rugby U20 Championship in northern Italy has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wales were set to take part in the 12-team tournament in late June and early July after being grouped with New Zealand, Australia and Georgia.

Gareth Williams' squad, featuring a number of bright prospects from the Dragons, had been building towards the competition in the Six Nations but will be denied the chance to improve on last year's sixth-placed finish in Argentina, where they beat the Baby Blacks.

The tournament has been called off along while a raft of other World Rugby events have been hit with the Sevens Series legs in London and Paris postponed, provisionally until September.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: "We stand in solidarity with the global rugby family and people around the world at this exceptional and difficult time, and I will ensure we continue to do everything in our power to protect the wellbeing of the global rugby family and the wider public.

"Taking the appropriate measures that mitigate the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus in line with government and public health agency responses and advice is paramount.

"This has underpinned our decision, taken in consultation with our unions, to suspend these World Rugby tournament activities with immediate effect, including the cancellation of the World Rugby U20 Championship following conversations with our friends at the Italian federation.

"We are also in close dialogue with the IOC relating to the conclusion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games rugby sevens qualification, specifically options to replace the final repechage tournament, should that be required.

"We have two women's and one men's teams left to qualify and are currently considering all options to ensure a fair and credible conclusion to the qualification process.

"Looking at a longer-term strategy, we are in continual dialogue with our unions, regions and the players' association relating to the wider global impact on rugby activities, including financial implications, driven by government and health authority measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

"At this extraordinary time, we are united in our commitment to finding ways of ensuring that on-field activity can resume as soon as it is safe and possible to do so."