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World Rugby to launch rebranded Pacific Nations Cup in 2024

By Finn Morton
Sama Malolo of Samoa breaks through the tackle of Kenta Fukuda of Japan during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Japan and Samoa at Stadium de Toulouse on September 28, 2023 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Pauline Ballet - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

As part of World Rugby’s commitment to “increasing global competitiveness” ahead of the 2027 and 2031 Rugby World Cups, the sports governing body has announced a new annual men’s competition from 2024.

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Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and the USA will compete in a rebranded Pacific Nations Cup that will be held in the southern hemisphere release window of August and September.

Samoa, Tonga and Fiji will compete in a “Pacific Islands pool,” while the other three teams will consist of the two North American nations and Japan. All six teams will host matches.

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Japan and the USA will host the finals series in alternate years, starting with Japan in the competition’s launch season in 2024.

All six teams will play “a minimum of three additional matches a year” by playing in the rebranded PNC. The competition is part of World Rugby’s “objective of reshaping the global men’s competition calendar.”

“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,” World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

Knockout

New Zealand
South Africa
11 - 12
Final
Argentina
New Zealand
6 - 44
SF1
England
South Africa
15 - 16
SF2
Wales
Argentina
17 - 29
QF1
Ireland
New Zealand
24 - 28
QF2
England
Fiji
30 - 24
QF3
France
South Africa
28 - 29
QF4

“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.”

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The first finals week will consist of two semi-finals and a 5th place playoff, followed by a bronze final and a grand final.

”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,” World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin added.

“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.”

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