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World Rugby reveals revamped six-team Pacific Nations Cup

NEWS: Canada and the United States will rejoin the Pacific Nations Cup this year in a rejigged two-stage six-team competition that will end with finals in Japan.

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In a statement, World Rugby said the new format is “designed to expand rugby’s reach and accelerate competitiveness within a new global competition structure”.

World Rugby also said that it was “creating an annual competition and rivalries like those seen in the men’s Six Nations and Rugby Championship”.

Two regional pools of three teams have been created to optimise player recovery, reducing the fatigue of long-distance travel.

Each team is guaranteed to play at least three matches in the competition with a minimum of one home fixture, providing the participating unions with an opportunity to market matches and grow audiences.

Fiji, Samoa and Tonga make up Pool A and will play each other in home or away fixtures. This represents a significant increase in the number of Tests organised in the Pacific Islands and Tonga will host more home Pacific Nations Cup fixtures in the next four years than then have in all competitions over the last decade.

Across the Pacific Ocean, Canada, Japan and USA will also face each other in a round-robin format to claim the top two positions of Pool B.

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The Pacific Nations Cup will culminate in a winner-takes-all finals series, taking place in Japan and USA (in alternating years)​, two strategically important markets for the future advancement of the sport.

Hosted in Japan for the first edition, all six teams will travel to Tokyo to either play in the fifth-place play-off or the semifinals between pool winners and pool runners-up on September 14-15.

The third-place play-off and Final will be hosted in Osaka a week later on September 21 to crown the Pacific Nations Cup 2024 champion, an exciting prospect for rugby fans around the world.

*The Pacific Nations Cup 2024 will be available to watch everywhere on the planet, either through a local broadcast partner or on RugbyPass TV.

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World Rugby’s High-Performance Pathways and Player Development Manager Simon Raiwalui said: “We are incredibly proud and excited to launch the revamped Pacific Nations Cup this year with a vibrant brand and an optimised match schedule. The six teams taking part in the competition will benefit from long-term certainty around fixtures, allowing them to optimise their preparations and engage with fans and commercial partners.

“With so much talent in the Pacific Islands, Japan and the two North American teams, fans can expect a tough contest and a great spectacle epitomised with epic finals in Japan.”

World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin said: “World Rugby’s mission is a global sport for all. The reimagined Pacific Nations Cup is an example of our mission in action. Combined with the proposed new two-division global competition model from 2026 and crossover fixtures against high-performance unions, performance unions could be playing an unprecedented number of annual fixtures from 2026.

“The model supports welfare and also provides unprecedented certainty of fixtures for unions to help increase awareness, excitement and value, while the grand final in the USA every two years is at the heart of our strategy to grow rugby visibility, accessibility and relevance on the road to World Cup 2031 and 2033. In short, this is a competition that serves several important purposes.”

Japan head coach Eddie Jones added: “The Pacific Nations Cup is really important for Japan because it allows us to play regular Tests against strong countries in tournament conditions, which is great practice for the players for Rugby World Cup.

“The Pacific Nations Cup fits in right next to the Rugby Championship and Six Nations in providing that regular competition for Pacific nations. Having finals is also a good way for players to experience games that have consequences, and it is great for Japan to host them in the first year, showing why it is a great rugby country.”

Meanwhile, USA Rugby CEO, Ross Young said: “This is a massively exciting day for USA Rugby, as many years of hard work and collaboration comes together in an official schedule of events. Kicking off our Pacific Nations Cup campaign on home soil in Los Angeles will be a premier experience as we lay foundation for the finals series to be hosted here in 2025.

“We’re thrilled for the rugby community to join us in this new era of annual competition and opportunity for USA fans and partners alike.”

Tonga Rugby Union Acting CEO Aisea Aholelei added: “The Tonga Rugby Union is excited about this revamped Pacific Nations Cup because of its significance to Tongan rugby and the ‘Ikale Tahi team. The competition will be fierce as all teams will try and prove they belong to the top teams in world rugby. Tonga will take this challenge with a smile and a thumping heart. It will be exciting.”

Rugby Canada CEO, Nathan Bombrys added: “As we saw this past weekend at HSBC SVNS, Vancouver is the preeminent rugby city in North America. We are very excited to see our Canadian national team return to BC Place for an international match against an exciting Japan team. The Pacific Nations Cup provides consistent annual fixtures and quality competition for our men, and we look forward to kicking off the tournament in front of a Canadian crowd in August.”

*The Pacific Nations Cup 2024 will be available to watch everywhere on the planet, either through a local broadcast partner or on RugbyPass TV.

 

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