A strong line-up featuring Argentina XV, Namibia, Russia and hosts Uruguay has been confirmed for the World Rugby Nations Cup 2019, which this year has a strong focus on Rugby World Cup 2019 preparations.
The round-robin format tournament will be played over three match days on 4, 9 and 15 June, 2019 at the newly redeveloped Charrua Stadium in Montevideo in the 14th edition of the competition that is being hosted by Uruguay for the third year in succession.
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The Nations Cup is a key World Rugby high performance tournament and will provide an important competition platform for the participating unions at a crucial stage in their preparations ahead of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup, which kicks off in Japan on 20 September, 2019.
Uruguay, who defeated Canada home and away in 2018 to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 as Americas 2 are the team to beat having secured back-to-back Nations Cup titles in 2017 and 2018. The hosts will face stiff competition from fellow Rugby World Cup qualifiers Namibia, who secured their place in Japan 2019 as Africa 1 by winning last year’s Africa Gold Cup, and Russia who qualified as Europe 1 following last year’s continental championship.
Meanwhile Argentina XV will enter the competition with high confidence fresh from convincingly claiming the Americas Rugby Championship title with five straight victories over USA, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Canada.
The four participating nations will not face each other in the pool phase of Rugby World Cup 2019 as Russia have been drawn in Pool A together with Ireland, Scotland, Japan and Samoa, while Namibia are in Pool B alongside New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Canada. In Pool C Argentina will take on England, France, USA and Tonga while Uruguay are in Pool D with Australia, Wales, Georgia and Fiji.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Nations Cup provides a vital opportunity for the competition teams to advance their Rugby World Cup preparations and test their squad selections just three months ahead of the showpiece tournament in Japan.
“World Rugby invests significantly in high performance programmes for emerging nations such as Uruguay, Namibia and Russia and high-quality competitions such as the Nations Cup with the objective of achieving the most competitive Rugby World Cup ever at Japan 2019.
“We thank Uruguay for hosting this important event for a third successive year, they have proved to be proud and passionate hosts and we look forward to another excellent competition with thrilling rugby in front of strong crowds as excitement builds towards the first Rugby World Cup in Asia.”
Uruguay hosting the tournament emphasises World Rugby’s commitment to developing rugby in the Americas. Rugby Americas, which comprises representatives of World Rugby regional associations Rugby Americas North and Sudamérica Rugby has been successful in attracting major rugby competitions to one of the world's fastest-growing regions in both participation and fan terms.
Argentina will host the U20 World Championships in June 2019, with the U20 Trophy taking place across the border in Brazil in July. Meanwhile the Nations Cup follows the success of the recent Americas Rugby Championship 2019. The continental tournament involving six nations from the Americas, also supported by World Rugby funding as part of its global growth strategy, set new fan-engagement and attendance records, capturing the imagination of a region that has seen the number of fans increase by more than seven per cent since 2017 to an impressive 198.2 million (above the worldwide average increase of one per cent).
World Rugby Vice-Chairman and Rugby Americas President Agustín Pichot said: "We are seeing a strong sense of momentum building in the awareness and popularity of rugby across the Americas. A key driver of this impetus is the hosting of strategically important events such as the Nations Cup and U20 Tournaments, providing an opportunity to showcase top level international rugby, attract new fans and engage with our growing digital and social communities across the Americas.
“We are confident Uruguay will once again do a fantastic job in hosting this invaluable competition as the teams fine tune their preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019.”
Pablo Ferrari, President Uruguay Rugby Union said: "For the Rugby Union of Uruguay it is an honor that, for the third year in a row, World Rugby has entrusted the organization of the Nations Cup, which this time will be held at the Charrúa Stadium and will have the participation of Uruguay, Argentina, Namibia and Russia. The event will have three World Cup teams, and will serve as preparation for Los Teros ahead of their participation in the next World Cup in Japan. Once again, we invite you to enjoy this show."
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 in 2019.
World Rugby investment in the high-performance programmes of the emerging nation unions such as Namibia, Russia and Uruguay provides essential funding to support team assembly and preparation, salaries of coaching staff and technical advisors, and sports science sports medicine initiatives.
Further information regarding broadcast and online coverage details will be confirmed in due course.