World Rugby launches Pacific Nations Cup, annual competition with the USA Men’s Eagles included as one of six competing nations

Tue, Oct 24, 2023, 3:10 PM
by Calder Cahill.

World Rugby today confirmed the Pacific Nations Cup, an all-new international Men’s XVs competition to launch in 2024.

The USA Men’s Eagles will be one of six nations to compete in home and away schedules on a yearly basis. The new competition provides a key building block for both North America and the Pacific Islands in organizing an increased number of annual test matches for each union to rely on long-term and create opportunity from 2024.

The USA will be joined by Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, and Tonga for the first tournament in summer 2024, reaffirming World Rugby’s commitment to increasing global competitiveness on the road to Rugby World Cups in Australia (2027) and the United States (2031). Approved by the World Rugby Council, the rebranded Pacific Nations Cup, which will be played in the southern hemisphere release window of August and September, will feature two pools of three teams – a North America/Japan pool and a Pacific Islands pool, with each union hosting matches. A finals series involving all teams will take place each year, where the annual champions will be confirmed. Japan and USA will host the finals series in alternate years, starting with Japan in 2024, and the USA in 2025.

PNC Graph

USA Rugby CEO, Ross Young said on the USA joining the Pacific Nations Cup, “The launch of this competition is a major benchmark for the game here in the United States. The return of a regular test match schedule for the Men’s Eagles will re-establish a crucial platform for both competitive and commercial growth within USA Rugby. With the Pacific Four Series and WXV off and running for the USA Women’s Eagles, both programs now move forward with quality competitions to grow through in lead up to Rugby World Cup 2031 and 2033 here on home soil. We have had great collaboration with World Rugby and the other unions in developing this competition and very much look forward to hosting the finals series in 2025.”

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin added: ”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.  

“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.”

Backed by significant World Rugby investment and union support, each union will play a minimum of

three additional matches a year via the new competition, delivering important certainty for each union in order to optimize commercial and performance returns, including ticket and sponsorship revenue and domestic broadcast. The competition supports World Rugby’s bigger picture objectives of reshaping the global men’s competition calendar and renewed investment in regional competitions and cross-border club structures. 

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “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. 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.”