USA will begin their quest for a third successive Americas Rugby Championship title on the road in South America after the schedule for the 2019 competition was announced on Monday.
The six-team round-robin competition features Argentina XV and the national teams of Brazil, Chile, Canada, Uruguay and USA and for the first time in 2019 will feature a bye week with the matches played over six weekends from 2 February to 9 March.
In a year in which three – possibly four – of the participating nations will have one eye on Rugby World Cup 2019, every match will be key as teams and players build towards the showpiece event in Japan.
The USA Eagles are unbeaten in the competition since March 2016 and will enter as the team to beat once again. They will begin their campaign against Chile in Santiago on 2 February, the same day Uruguay meet Canada in Montevideo and Argentina XV host Brazil in Neuquén.
Their sternest challenge is expected to come in round two when they face 2016 champions the Argentina XV in Rio Negro. The two sides drew their first two meetings in the Americas Rugby Championship before USA edged a tight battle 17-10 in 2018.
Canada are currently preparing for the RWC 2019 repechage in Marseille and will hope that by the time the Americas Rugby Championship kicks off they have booked their ticket to Japan 2019 alongside Argentina, USA and Uruguay.
The tournament will be played in nine different cities across the Americas with broadcast details to be announced in due course.
Rugby Americas President Agustín Pichot said: “In announcing the schedule for the fourth edition of the Americas Rugby Championship, we are delighted with the sustained growth the tournament has experienced.
“The ARC was born out of the need to create a vehicle to inspire a younger generation of players and fans, while assisting in the development of the current players. Year on year, this has been widely achieved.
“2019 is a very big year for rugby. Having both regions of the Americas as early as February in international competition shows that we are ready to continue growing and developing. Furthermore, I’m very happy with the bye week being added to the schedule in the interest of player welfare.”
Rugby Americas CEO Dan Payne added: “The leading competition within the Americas region, the Americas Rugby Championship 2019, will look to prepare players from what we hope will be four countries, pending the results of the repechage tournament in Europe, for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“Simultaneously, the competition serves as a vehicle to grow and promote rugby across all six countries as they each keep an eye toward 2023.
“2018 saw two successful Rugby Americas tournaments in the ARC and the Americas Rugby Challenge. There are exciting plans already underway that will continue to add content to the growing Rugby Americas (Rugby Americas North and Sudamérica Rugby) competition portfolio.”
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