World Rugby has announced the dates and match schedule for the upcoming Americas Pacific Challenge 2018, which will be hosted for the third year in a row by Unión de Rugby del Uruguay, in Montevideo from 6-14 October.
The Americas Pacific Challenge was introduced in 2016 to boost the high-performance pathway for the test arena and to support the Americas Rugby Championship and Pacific Nations Cup as well as November international test window preparation.
The six-team tournament includes two A teams each from the Pacific Islands, North America and South America.
This year’s tournament again sees defending champions Argentina XV compete alongside Canada A, Samoa A, Tonga A, Uruguay A and USA Selects.
The World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge will be a first-past-the-post tournament format, played across three competition rounds on 6, 10 and 14 October. Teams in Pool A will play all teams in Pool B once, and teams in Pool B will face all teams in Pool A once. The tournament winner will be decided by the total number of competition points accumulated in the three matches played.
Pool A consists of Argentina XV, hosts Uruguay A and Tonga A, while 2017 runners-up USA Selects are in Pool B with Samoa A and Canada A.
Agustín Pichot, World Rugby Vice-Chairman and Rugby Americas President, said: “Established as part of World Rugby’s strategy to enhance the performance pathway for tier two teams, the Americas Pacific Challenge has afforded teams and emerging talent with additional quality and competitive playing opportunities in a structured tournament environment.
“With Rugby World Cup 2019 on the horizon the Americas Pacific Challenge continues to play a key role in supporting player development pathways. We are looking forward to watching the six nations as they compete for the APC title.”
Unión de Rugby del Uruguay President Pablo Ferrari said: “It is an honour for our Union and Uruguayan rugby to be hosting this World Rugby tournament for a third time, generating competition for our elite players and giving our country prestige. As in previous tournaments we have the support of the Sports Secretary, the Tourism Ministry and our sponsors, who we thank.
“The World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge is a very tough tournament that will allow us to work on our players ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019 in a key moment ahead of Japan. We want to thank World Rugby for trusting us once again and, as always, we will ensure that it is a tournament that fulfils the expectations of players and public. They will all be welcomed.”
Argentina XV captain Lautaro Bavaro is looking forward to the competition: “The Americas Pacific Challenge is a tournament that we enjoy playing. We managed to win it last year, but it was certainly not easy. Going to Montevideo will offer Argentina XV another opportunity to get together as a team and continue having opportunities to showcase our abilities. Each game, each tournament, each moment together we take as an opportunity.”
Dave Hodges, USA Rugby General Manager, said: “The Americas Pacific Challenge fills an important area in our calendar by providing international competition for our players as we enter one year out from Rugby World Cup 2019. The schedule's shortened turnaround times will help us do a dry run of our systems which will be under the same challenge when we play Tonga on a short week during Rugby World Cup.”
World Rugby has also confirmed the four referees for the tournament. Uruguay's Joaquín Montes will referee in his third American Pacific Challenge with Derek Summers (USA), Shuhei Kubo (Japan) and Pali Deluca (Argentina).
World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge 2018 schedule
Saturday 6 October (all times local)
11:00 - Argentina XV v Samoa A
13:30 - Tonga A v USA Selects
16:00 - Uruguay A v Canada A
Wednesday 10 October
11:00 - Tonga A v Samoa A
13:30 – Argentina XV v Canada A
16:00 – Uruguay A v USA Selects
Sunday 14 October
11:00 – Tonga A v Canada A
13:30 – Argentina XV v USA Selects
16:00 – Uruguay A v Samoa A