- World Rugby committed to increasing competitiveness, value and reach of the game
- Pacific Nations Cup to provide long-term certainty and opportunity from 2024
- New competition a key building block in providing increased number of annual test matches
A new annual men’s 15s competition involving Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and USA will launch in 2024, reaffirming World Rugby’s commitment to increasing global competitiveness on the road to Rugby World Cups in Australia (2027) and USA (2031).
Approved by the international federation’s Council, the rebranded Pacific Nations Cup, which will be played in the southern hemisphere release window of August and September, will feature two pools of three teams – a North America/Japan pool and a Pacific Islands pool with each union hosting matches.
A finals series involving all teams will take place each year, where the annual champions will be confirmed. Japan and USA will host the finals series in alternate years, starting with Japan in 2024.
Backed by significant World Rugby investment and union support, each union will play a minimum of three additional matches a year via the new competition, delivering important certainty for each union in order to optimise commercial and performance returns, including ticket and sponsorship revenue and domestic broadcast.
The competition supports the bigger picture objective of reshaping the global men’s competition calendar and combined with the proposed two-division global competition model, renewed investment in regional competitions and cross-border club structures, the new competition landscape will secure a positive and sustainable future of international rugby for participating unions, providing a platform for accelerated growth.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “We have seen at this Rugby World Cup just how the performance nations need certainty of regular access to top-level competition to be able to build, grow and deliver on the world stage. This Pacific Nations Cup competition helps address that need as we look to reshape the global calendar to deliver greater opportunity, certainty and equity. By 2026, these teams will have unprecedented high-level competition access.”
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin added: ”We are on the side of growth and this tournament is a key pillar in a wider strategy. Combined with the proposed new two-division global competition model from 2026 and cross-over fixtures against high performance unions, performance unions could be playing an unprecedented number of annual fixtures from 2026.
“Hosting the grand final in the USA every two years is at the heart of our strategy to grow rugby visibility, accessibility and relevance on the road to Rugby World Cup 2031 and 2033. We will be making some big announcements on this in the coming months.”
Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua added: “I am excited at the potential of the expanded Pacific Nations Cup as it provides important high quality fixture certainty to grow and develop Manu Samoa.
“This means we will have more test matches and more time together as a team which we have lacked in the past. This new environment will enable us to keep growing and developing as we look towards Rugby World Cup 2027 in Australia.”
Nathan Bombrys, Rugby Canada CEO, said: “This new tournament provides consistent competition for our Canadian men’s team against top international teams. Our players are excited to test themselves against quality opposition. We look forward to hosting annual Pacific Nations Cup games in front of Canadian fans on home soil. We are grateful for the support of World Rugby in their efforts to create this new competition for Canada and the Pacific nations.”