The inaugural Americas Rugby Challenge schedule has been announced with Colombia, Paraguay, Guyana and Mexico set to compete in the newly-created round-robin tournament from 26 August to 1 September at the Estadio Cincuentenario in Medellín, Colombia.
The cross regional event encompasses both North and South America. The Americas Rugby Challenge is following in the footsteps of the successful Americas Rugby Championship, which enters into its fourth season of competition in February 2019. The competition was created by Rugby Americas for development teams in the Rugby Americas North and Sudamérica Rugby regions.
Rugby is experiencing continued global growth with the Americas accounting for 91 million of the 338 million rugby fans identified globally in recent Nielsen research commissioned by World Rugby.
Rugby Americas President Agustín Pichot said: “It is crucial that countries have an aspirational component at the top of their competitive pathways toward international rugby as this also assists in growing the game at the grassroots level for each union.
“First and foremost, I’m excited for the players that get to enjoy this competition and develop their skills as a result. I’m equally excited about the youth that will watch their country compete and become fans and/or aspire to wear the same jersey in the future.”
Rugby Americas CEO Dan Payne added: “Across the Americas right now, the game is inspiring all who come in touch with it and the vision is centered around growth of the game through supporting competitions and emphasising the amazing values that make up our great game.
“In times of growth, tournaments such as these are great opportunities to further develop and promote rugby and our values.”
The Federación Colombiana de Rugby will host the tournament in the country’s hotbed of Medellín, which promises to be abuzz with the Challenge and other rugby activities around it.
Federación Colombiana de Rugby President Andrés Gómez is looking forward to expanding quality competitions in the region.
“We are delighted to be hosting the Americas Rugby Challenge in Medellín, with the full support of World Rugby, Índer - Alcaldía de Medellín and Indeportes Antioquia. These institutions will ensure we can fulfill the high expectations placed on this new tournament which serves as a platform to develop the game in the country, the regions and the continent.”
All to play for
The introduction of the second-tier Challenge tournament follows on the back of three editions of the Americas Rugby Championship featuring the top six nations across North and South America.
Paraguay and Mexico will open the tournament on 26 August, while hosts Colombia will tackle Guyana to close the first round of the tournament. Trans-regional matches will also be played in the second round with Guyana meeting Paraguay and Colombia playing against Mexico three days later. The final round, on Saturday 1 September, will see Mexico face Guyana and Colombia versus Paraguay as the closing match. The winner will be the team accruing the most tournament points.
This Americas Rugby Challenge will provide the Colombian Tucanes, the Guyana Green Machine, Mexico’s Serpientes and the Paraguayan Yacarés with international competition to aid their development as well as promoting the growth of rugby across the continent.
World Rugby Rankings points will be on offer and the proximity of the four teams ensures games will be both relevant and interesting. Paraguay (ranked 38) and Colombia (43) joined Sudamérica Rugby’s elite in the new 6 Naciones Sudamericano. Guyana (47) and Mexico (53), representing Rugby Americas North, will be able to advance in the rankings on the back of good performances.
“We are very much looking forward to competing in this new Americas Rugby Challenge, competing against new and stronger teams which is very motivating,” said Mexico coach Rubén Duque. “We are going through a renovation period in our team, which means we will travel with a new squad which adds to the Challenge the tournament already is.”
The Americas Rugby Challenge has also unveiled its new logo. The chosen palette for this strong logo represents each one of the nations involved in the tournament. The metallic treatment and heavy typeface represent strength and staying power.
Sunday, 26 August: Paraguay v Mexico, Colombia v Guyana
Wednesday, 29 August: Guyana v Paraguay, Colombia v Mexico
Saturday, 1 September: Mexico v Guyana, Colombia v Paraguay