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All you need to know as beefed-up Pacific Nations Cup gets ready to kick off

The stage is set for a thrilling World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup 2019, with the tournament taking on added significance two months out from the World Cup.

This year’s edition promises to be one of the most competitive and fascinating to date with all six participating teams making their final World Cup preparations. 

The tournament will be contested by Japan, Canada, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and USA over three rounds on July 27, August 3 and August 9-10, offering teams a vital chance to fine-tune their squads and scope out their opposition. 

This Saturday’s opening round fixtures feature Tonga versus Samoa in Apia, Japan versus Japan in Kamaishi and USA versus Canada in Glendale (see full fixture list here). 

With World Cup fever sweeping the nation and awareness at an all-time high, Japan will host two Pacific Nations Cup matches as part of the country’s World Cup readiness programme. 

The matches in host cities Kamaishi and Hanazono – both of which are sell-outs – will be used for operational testing to ensure the country is primed and ready for the World Cup kick-off on September 20. 

Key World Cup tournament time operational protocols will be put in place for testing in and around the two match venues. 

This includes venue security and processes around fan flow and stadia entry, ticket scanning, fixed seating allocation and World Cup match time operational management protocols. The host cities will also take the opportunity to stress-test their tournament time transportation plans.

Additional Pacific Nations Cup matches will take place in Samoa, Fiji and USA. Now in its 14th year, the Pacific Nations Cup Pacific Nations Cup is a key component of World Rugby’s mission to offer nations greater access to competitive Test matches with a focus on development in the Pacific region.

Reigning champions Fiji, who have won the past four Pacific Nations Cups, will be looking to add a fifth consecutive title to their trophy room as the tournament’s highest-ranked team but will face stiff competition from fellow Pacific Islands Tonga and Samoa, both with a point to prove as they build towards World Cup (see PNC squad lists here). 

Meanwhile, Japan, Canada and USA, who rejoin the tournament for the first time since 2015, will want to put their finishing touches on squad preparations, using the tournament as a springboard for World Cup later in the year.   

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With all roads leading to World Cup 2019, this year’s Pacific Nations Cup will be fascinating. 

“The tournament, taking place over three rounds in Japan, Samoa, Fiji and USA, will offer a tantalising taste of what is to come at World Cup and I cannot wait to watch the action unfold. I would like to extend my thanks to each of the host unions.

“We are especially pleased to stage two sell-out matches in our Rugby World Cup host cities Kamaishi and Hanazono. 

“With more than 80 per cent of available Rugby World Cup tickets sold following unprecedented demand from fans in over 170 countries, and more than 400,000 international visitors expected to descend on Japan for Asia’s first-ever Rugby World Cup, the country is gripped by Rugby World Cup fever. 

“The Pacific Nations Cup will be the perfect curtain-raiser to show the country’s readiness and build even more excitement ahead of the big event.”

WATCH: Part one of the two-part RugbyPass documentary on what the fans can expect to experience at the World Cup in Japan

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All you need to know as beefed-up Pacific Nations Cup gets ready to kick off