By Alex Goff, FloRugby
World Rugby has today announced the schedule for the Pacific Nations Cup 2019 taking place over three rounds from July 27 to August 10 of the new year.
The competition is part of a readiness program for Rugby World Cup 2019 with the Men’s Eagles hosting rival-Canada at in their opening match at Infinity Park in Glendale, CO on July 27.
Along with rival-Canada, the United States will also face Samoa and World Cup hosts Japan at Anz Stadium in Suva, Fiji on August 3 and August 10, respectively. In total, six teams will compete in the annual competition including Fiji and Tonga. All games will be contested in a cross-pool format with points awarded at each round and the highest number of points at the conclusion of the tournament crowning a champion.
All six teams in the Pacific Nations Cup or PNC, are qualified for Rugby World Cup Japan giving fans a much-anticipated preview of what’s to come at the World’s third-largest single-sport event later that year. Similarly, the high quality of competition — with all teams ranked in the world’s Top 20 — will bode well as the Eagles continue to build on their new high of No. 12 in the world. The Eagles are accompanied by Fiji at No. 8, Japan at No. 11, Tonga at No. 14, Samoa at No. 16 and Canada at No. 20.
USA last participated in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup in 2015 where they came in fifth-place. The tournament was last hosted in 2018 with four teams competing and Fiji claiming their fourth-consecutive title with a win over Georgia.
Ahead of the PNC 2019, the Eagle men will open their World Cup year with the Americas Rugby Championship 2019 where they’ll hope to secure their third-consecutive title.
General Manager for Men’s 15s Programs Dave Hodges said: “We’re looking forward to strengthening our schedule and preparation for Rugby World Cup Japan 2019 with three test matches in the Pacific Nations Cup,” said Dave Hodges. “Hosting our northern rivals Canada after what we know will be a fiercely contested Americas Rugby Championship at the beginning of the year will be great for our home fans. Adding to that two matches against Samoa and Japan will allow our men to test our strengths and increase our depth with a competitive lineup before the World Cup.”
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With all roads leading to Rugby World Cup 2019, it is exciting to announce that six participating unions, Canada, Fiji, hosts Japan, Samoa, Tonga and USA will feature in the World Rugby Pacific Cup 2019 line-up.
“This announcement reflects our commitment to provide a strong preparation platform for these unions immediately prior to our showcase event, to build excitement in two host cities and deliver an important programme of testing and readiness ahead of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.”
Tickets to see the United States face rival-Canada at Infinity Park as part of the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup will be on sale in the coming weeks. In the meantime, fans can still select their seats for one of the Men’s Eagles home matches in the Americas Rugby Championship at usarugby.org/tickets.
Rugby World Cup Japan 2019 will take place from September 20 to November 2, 2019 with the United States drawn in Pool C alongside England, France, Argentina and Tonga. Tickets will be back on sale January 19 while Official Supporter Tour and Hospitality packages can be purchased now at rugbyworldcup.com/tickets.
Pacific Nations Cup 2019 Schedule
Round 1: Saturday, July 27
Fiji vs Japan | Kamaishi, Japan
USA vs Canada | Infinity Park, Glendale, Colorado
Tonga vs Samoa | Apia, Samoa
Round 2: Saturday, August 3
Tonga vs Japan | Hanazono, Japan
USA vs Samoa | Anz Stadium, Suva, Fiji
Fiji vs Canada | Anz Stadium, Suva, Fiji
Round 3: Friday, August 9
Tonga vs Canada | Churchill Park, Lautoka
Round 3: Sat, August 10
USA vs Japan | Anz Stadium, Suva, Fiji
Fiji vs Samoa | Anz Stadium, Suva, Fiji