World Rugby has announced the match schedule for the World Rugby Nations Cup 2018, which will be hosted at the Estadio Parque Artigas on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, from 2-10 June.
The key high-performance tournament will see Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifiers Uruguay take on Argentina XV, Emerging Italy and Fiji Warriors, providing an important competition platform for the participating unions at a crucial preparation period ahead of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.
Uruguay, who defeated Canada home and away earlier this year to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 as Americas 2, are the reigning champions and head into the competition as a form team, having recently achieved 14 test wins in a row.
The competition featured six teams in 2017, but with Rugby World Cup qualification ongoing and a comprehensive programme of tier two fixtures in the June window in North America and the Pacific Islands, the Nations Cup features four strong teams, representing nations already qualified for rugby’s showcase event.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “We are delighted that Uruguay is hosting the 2018 edition of the World Rugby Nations Cup. Uruguay is a proud rugby nation who have qualified for the Rugby World Cup at the first opportunity and rugby always attracts strong crowds in Montevideo.
“This competition has become integral to the high-performance programmes of the participating unions, and I am sure that with Rugby World Cup 2019 just around the corner, we will see some superb and exciting rugby.”
Hosting also reflects the continued commitment by Rugby Americas, which comprises representatives of World Rugby regional associations Rugby Americas North and Sudamérica Rugby, to attract major rugby competitions to one of the world's fastest-growing regions in both participation and fan terms. Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay all hosted matches in the 2018 Americas Rugby Championship, while Uruguay also hosted the World Rugby Nations Cup, World Rugby U20 Trophy and World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge in 2017.
World Rugby Vice-Chairman and Rugby Americas President Agustín Pichot said: "The Americas represents an exciting growth opportunity for the sport with recent research demonstrating a total fan-base of more than 25 million and a growing, thriving rugby family. The hosting of important international rugby events such as the World Rugby Nations Cup reflects a desire to attract premium rugby content and a strong commitment to sustainable growth within the unions."
For Uruguay, hosting the Nations Cup reflects the union's commitment to attracting some of the world's top international rugby events to the country, building on the success of the 2017 tournament, which attracted strong attendance, fan-engagement and media interest.
Sudamérica Rugby President and Uruguay Rugby Union Head of Performance Sebastian Piñeyrúa said: "We are delighted to be hosting the 2018 World Rugby Nations Cup and are grateful for the confidence World Rugby have in us to organise this tournament again. Aside from hosting experience, these matches are very important for Uruguay's Rugby World Cup 2019 preparation."
World Rugby Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan added: “The World Rugby Nations Cup is strategically important to World Rugby and the participating unions as providing a strong, high-intensity competition environment that is ideal for testing players and coaching structures, especially a year out from a Rugby World Cup.
“World Rugby is committed to expanding quality competition opportunities for emerging and established unions and we are investing £3.5 million in high-performance investment competitions alone this year.”
Further information regarding coverage details will be confirmed in due course.
RWC 2019 Tickets
RWC 2019 Official Ticketing site NOW LIVE
Fans can now register interest to apply for Rugby World Cup 2019 tickets