WORLD RUGBY PACIFIC CHALLENGE 2017
Winners: Fiji Warriors
When: 10-18 March
Where: Suva, Fiji
Final standings: 1. Fiji Warriors 2. Junior Japan 3. Tonga A 4. Samoa A
Leading points scorer: Naoto Saito (Junior Japan), 37
Leading try scorer: Lepani Raiyala (Fiji Warriors) and Tevita Tatafu (Junior Japan), 4
- Seventh heaven for Fiji:
While not quite reaching the same heights as they did in winning the 2016 competition in terms of their attacking stats, Fiji Warriors still scored an impressive 18 tries and 125 points in three bonus-point victories to claim their seventh World Rugby Pacific Challenge title.
- Figures of eight: Number eights Tevita Tatafu and Faulua Makisi bagged hat-tricks in wins against Samoa A and Tonga A as Junior Japan doubled their win tally from 2016 to finish as runners-up behind Fiji Warriors, the only team to defeat them.
- Added extras: Naoto Saito’s tally of 37 points for Junior Japan included 11 conversions – a record for the competition since it took on the Pacific Challenge title in 2015. Saito beat James Faiva of Tonga A (33 points) and Samoa A stalwart Patrick Faapale (31) to the golden boot award.
WORLD RUGBY NATIONS CUP
When: 10-18 June
Where: Montevideo, Uruguay
Final Standings: 1. Uruguay 2. Russia 3. Argentina XV 4. Namibia 5. Spain 6. Emerging Italy
Leading points scorer: Felipe Berchesi 26 points (Uruguay)
Leading try scorer: Denis Simplikevich 4 tries (Russia)
- Hosts with the most
Montevideo took over from long-standing host city Bucharest as the venue for the 12th edition of the Nations Cup and home advantage served Uruguay well, Los Teros winning the title for the first time.
- Small margins
Los Teros beat Spain 24-14 in the final to finish as the only unbeaten side in one of the most competitive tournaments to date. Five of the six teams won matches, with an average winning margin of just 13 points and four of the nine games settled by five points or less.
- RWC 2019 factor
With two of their three matches carrying rating points, Los Teros’ strong showing at the Nations Cup allowed them to stay ahead of their RWC 2019 Americas 2 play-off opponents Canada in the World Rugby Rankings to ensure home advantage for the second leg in early 2018.
- Simply the best
RWC 2011 veteran winger Denis Simplikevich rolled back the years to score four tries and help Russia mark their Nations Cup return after a three-year absence with a best-ever finish of second.
WORLD RUGBY PACIFIC NATIONS CUP
When: 1-15 July
Where: Nuku’alofa, Tonga and Apia, Samoa
Final Standings: 1. Fiji 2. Tonga 3. Samoa
Leading points scorer*: Sonatane Takulua (Tonga), 43
Leading try scorer*: Henry Seniloli (Fiji), 3
*2016 & 2017 tournaments combined
- Hat-trick hero Henry
Henry Seniloli scored a hat-trick as Fiji came back from a two-point half-time deficit to beat Samoa 38-16 and successfully defend the title. Fiji had trailed Samoa in the final match, but by the end had outscored their hosts by five tries to one to complete the RWC 2019 qualification process, which spanned both the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Pacific Nations Cup, unbeaten.
- Road to Japan
Fiji booked their place in Pool D at RWC 2019 as Oceania 1 after finishing as the top-ranked team. Games against Australia, Wales, Georgia and Americas 2 – either Uruguay or Canada – await them in Japan. As runners-up, Tonga qualified as Oceania 2 and find themselves in Pool C alongside England, France, Argentina and USA. Samoa, the third-placed team will meet a European side in a home-and-away play-off, with the winner qualifying for RWC 2019 as Play-off Winner and the loser entering the global repechage.
- Homecoming party
Tonga celebrated their first home test in eight years with a stunning 30-26 victory against Samoa in front of 10,000 fans at the Teufaiva Stadium in Nuku’alofa. Livewire scrum-half and tournament top point-scorer Sonatane Takulua bagged a brace of tries in the match.
WORLD RUGBY AMERICAS PACIFIC CHALLENGE
"We grew with each game. We had failed to win the Americas Rugby Championship and the Nations Cup so we wanted to win this. It was a positive end to the season"
Winners: Argentina XV
When: 7-15 October
Where: Montevideo, Uruguay
Final standings: 1. Argentina XV 2. USA Select XV 3. Tonga A 4. Samoa A 5. Uruguay A 6. Canada A
Leading points scorer: Juan Cruz González (Argentina XV), 48
Leading try scorer: Sebastian Cancelliere (Argentina XV), six
Argentina XV successfully defended their title in style, scoring 238 points and 36 tries in wins over the A teams of Uruguay (82-7), Samoa (85-14) and Canada (71-17).
- That's entertainment
The champions weren’t the only side to pile on the points in fine weather conditions conducive to attacking rugby. Overall, 99 tries were scored across the nine matches, while each of the teams averaged 20 points plus per game.
- Renaissance man
USA Select XV number eight Hanco Germishuys went from villain to hero after marking his return from the one-match suspension he received following his red card in the opening loss to Samoa A by scoring four tries in their win over Canada A.
- Stepping stone
The tournament plays an important role in player development as rising stars try to catch the eye. Argentina XV back Sebastián Cancelliere grabbed his opportunity with both hands by scoring in every match to finish as top try-scorer. A month later he made his test debut off the bench against England at Twickenham.