World Rugby Announces Pacific Nations Cup for 2024 With Canada in Pool with USA and Japan
There’s been a fair bit of commentary on social media about the competition. Canada comes across as one of the winners as they get to play 3 games in August/September against higher ranked teams. Japan don’t seem thrilled with it as they are stuck with two lower ranked teams in their pool. The other pool is Fiji, Samoa, Tonga so the best Japan can do is a final against Fiji, currently #10 vs #12. Neither Fiji or Japan get access to the remaining top 10 teams.
There is a caveat however, in 2026 World Rugby are planning a top 12 team tournament comprised of 6 Nation and SANZAAR teams, with SANZAAR to select the additional two teams. Those teams are likely to be Fiji and Japan. So there’s the prospect of Fiji and Japan playing the top teams in July/November and in the Pacific Nations in August/September.
There will be a 2nd tier competition run by World Rugby starting in 2026 also involving 12 teams, so Canada could be playing the likes of Portugal, Spain, Romania in July/November and USA/Japan in August/September.
The big losers in this seem to be the South American teams Uruguay, Chile, Brazil as there was no mention of an extra tournament for them with higher ranked teams. The Americas Rugby Championship seems buried now. That tournament really benefited Chile and Brazil as it gave them access to higher ranked competition, and Chile took full advantage to reach and surpass Canada and USA to qualify for the 2023 RWC.
A possible scenario in 2024 for the PNC, based on current rankings, is #23 Canada playing #18 USA and #12 Japan in August/September, then #16 Tonga for the 5th/6th place. The top four teams will playoff for the title. The finals will be held in Japan and USA in alternating years. It’s not clear if the 5th/6th place match will also be held in Japan/USA. Canada are likely to get one hosting in the tournament, either against Japan or USA. It’s also not clear what games Canada will get in July/November before the 2026 Tier 1/Tier 2 tournaments begin.
It also becomes important to stay in the Tier 2 rankings bracket, 13-24, for 2026 if World Rugby uses the rankings to determine who participates in the 12 team Tier 2 competition. Currently Canada occupies #23, with Hong Kong, Russia, Brazil, Netherlands all in close pursuit.
from World Rugby
A new annual men’s 15s competition involving Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and USA will launch in 2024, reaffirming World Rugby’s commitment to increasing global competitiveness on the road to Rugby World Cups in Australia (2027) and USA (2031).
Approved by the international federation’s 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.
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 optimise commercial and performance returns, including ticket and sponsorship revenue and domestic broadcast.
The competition supports the bigger picture objective of reshaping the global men’s competition calendar and combined with the proposed two-division global competition model, renewed investment in regional competitions and cross-border club structures, the new competition landscape will secure a positive and sustainable future of international rugby for participating unions, providing a platform for accelerated growth.
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.”
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.”
Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua added: “I am excited at the potential of the expanded Pacific Nations Cup as it provides important high quality fixture certainty to grow and develop Manu Samoa.
“This means we will have more test matches and more time together as a team which we have lacked in the past. This new environment will enable us to keep growing and developing as we look towards Rugby World Cup 2027 in Australia.”
from Rugby Canada
Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team will compete in a newly rebranded annual international men’s 15s competition launching in August 2024.
The Pacific Nations Cup will give Canada a minimum of three additional test matches per year, providing the team with guaranteed annual fixtures. Canada joins the United States and Japan in one of the two pools, the other consisting of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
“This is a significant opportunity for our men’s team to play quality opposition every year,” said Nathan Bombrys, Rugby Canada CEO. “We look forward to hosting Pacific Nations Cup fixtures annually, providing regular opportunities for Canadian fans to support their team on home soil. Rugby Canada looks forward to playing our part alongside World Rugby and the other participating unions to make this tournament a success. We thank World Rugby for the collaborative effort that has led to the formation of this competition.”
Played in August and September of each year, all participating unions will host at least one match, with Japan and the United States hosting the finals, where the annual champions will be crowned, in alternate years starting with Japan in 2024.
“Consistent competition against top nations is critical for the development of our men’s rugby program,” said Kingsley Jones, Head Coach of Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team. “The Pacific Nations Cup will give us important preparation time as a group, while playing much needed annual fixed matches against unions ranked within the top 20. We had the valuable opportunity of touring in Fiji and Tonga this past summer, and look forward to continued opportunities to compete with the Pacific Island unions, Japan, plus continue our healthy rivalry with the United States, as a result of this rebranded Pacific Nations Cup.”
More information on the Pacific Nations Cup format can be found here. The full competition schedule and details on Canadian-hosted matches will be announced in 2024.