US gets more rugby exposure in rebranded Pacific Nations Cup to help prepare for hosting World Cups

World Rugby’s bid to increase the sport’s visibility in the United States ahead of hosting the men’s and women’s World Cups will see the country stage the grand final of a rebranded Pacific Nations Cup tournament.

The U.S. team, nicknamed the Eagles, will take part in the six-nation men’s competition also involving Canada, Japan, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga every year between August and September. After a group stage containing one home and one away game for each of the six teams, the U.S. and Japan will take it in turns to host the finals of the competition held across two weekends.

In a bid to drive global competitiveness, World Rugby wants to give these six countries more guaranteed yearly games— similar to what Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina get in the southern-hemisphere Rugby Championship and England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy get in the northern-hemisphere Six Nations.

The Americans are involved in the competition for the first time since 2019, giving the team more exposure in the run-up to hosting the World Cup for the first time. The United States will host the men’s edition in 2031 and the women’s event two years later.

World Rugby said having the grand final of the Pacific Nations Cup in the United States every two years — starting in 2025 — “is at the heart of our strategy to grow rugby visibility, accessibility and relevance on the road to Rugby World Cup 2031 and 2033.”

“This is a massively exciting day for USA Rugby,” said Ross Young, the federation’s CEO, “as many years of hard work and collaboration comes together in an official schedule of events.

“Kicking off our Pacific Nations Cup campaign on home soil in Los Angeles will be a premier experience as we lay foundation for the finals series to be hosted here in 2025.”

The reimagined Pacific Nations Cup will be linked to the two-division global calendar competitions launching in 2026.

Japan coach Eddie Jones said the annual tournament will be “great practice for the players for Rugby World Cup.”

“The Pacific Nations Cup fits in right next to the Rugby Championship and Six Nations in providing that regular competition for Pacific nations,” he said. “Having finals is also a good way for players to experience games that have consequences, and it is great for Japan to host them in the first year, showing why it is a great rugby country.”


AP rugby:

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up