World Rugby has confirmed that the Pacific Nations Cup will be expanded, with Canada and the United States joining the tournament in 2024. The competition has been expanded from four to six teams, with Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Japan the original competitors.
The 2023 Pacific Nations Cup was played in the build-up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup, which saw Fiji complete a clean sweep of victories. The new-look competition will be played during August and September 2024, and will feature two pools of three teams.
There will be a North America/Japan pool and a Pacific Islands pool, with each nation hosting at least one match. A finals series will then take place, with Japan and the USA set to host the finals on alternating years. This commences with Japan hosting the competition in 2024.
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.”