The World Rugby Under 20 Trophy is the second level of the World Rugby tournament structure for under-20 national sides. At the same time that the Trophy was launched, the World Rugby (then known as the International Rugby Board) also launched an upper-level championship, featuring 16 teams in 2008 and 2009 and a reduced format for 12 teams from 2010 and onwards.
Promotion and relegation between the Trophy and the Championship is in place. The winner of the Trophy will play in next year's Championship, while the last placed team at the Championship will be relegated to the Trophy for the next year.
The inaugural tournament was held in 2008, hosted by Chile, and won by Uruguay. World Rugby's decision that the United States would host the tournament in 2012 was viewed as the United States taking a step closer towards hosting the Rugby World Cup.