MIAMI – Executive members of the top-6 ranked rugby nations spanning North and South America met in Miami, FL this week to discuss the creation of a new International Championship set to begin in 2016. The tournament, which has yet to be named, would be a groundbreaking endeavor strengthening rugby competition across two continents.
“This is a historic moment for rugby in America,” said Agustin Pichot, former Argentinean captain and current Pan American Rugby Association President. “We have had great meetings and we believe that the American championship will be a complete success for the development of rugby in the region.”
Echoing Agustin’s statement, Sebastian Pineyura, Uruguay Rugby President said, “We are very happy with the progress made in the meeting today. The goal of this tournament is aligned with our plans as a Union and we are sure it will be a great development tool for rugby in the Americas.”
During initial tournament conversations, all six nations agreed the International Championship would be developed under the guidance of the Pan American Rugby Association (PARA). The competing nations – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Uruguay and the United States – will each play five matches annually, giving Rugby fans across the Americas a chance to see top-tier international competition on a regular basis.
Agustin Danza, CEO, Brazil Rugby Union was also in attendance at the meeting, saying, “We are very optimistic about the future of rugby in America. The collaboration we achieved in this first meeting showed us that by having more of these meetings, we will be able to accelerate the growth of the region.” Brazil is the host nation for the 2016 Summer Olympics, in which rugby will make its triumphant return with a sevens tournament.
Executive members representing each nation’s rugby unions have agreed to work together and develop a fixture schedule spanning over fi years, determining home and away matches for each nation. “We had a great meeting in which all the invited countries collaborated enthusiastically to make progress and reach agreements,” said Sebastian Bianchi, representing Chile, “the dream of a tournament with the six nations is closer every day.”
Initial talks of an Americas Championship tournament were so successful that plans for expansion were also discussed. “It is an excellent development that the leading rugby countries of the Americas are discussing the future of international competition,” said World Rugby representative Tom Jones. Any creation of further tiers of competition would allow for potential promotion and relegation to the top-tier.
USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville joined in World Rugby’s excitement, saying, “This is an exciting time for Rugby in the Americas and an American Rugby Championship will be an important step forward for international rugby in the region.”
North America’s other representative, Rugby Canada CEO Graham Brown, shared similar sentiments, saying, “Rugby Canada believes strongly in working with our partners across the Americas. A competition that provides high-quality, consistent fixtures annually will help further ensure the growth of the game in both North and South America.”
Work will now continue in order to develop the Championship ahead of the 2016 launch.