Monday, December 10, 2012

USA and Canada to play in modified Pacific competition in June 2013?

Todd Clever could face Japan in 2013
The June 2013 series will be different to that of June 2012 and other recent years for the Tier Two Nations of North America and the Pacific. The 2012 Pacific Nations Cup featured Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga and was played from June 05-23. In addition to playing tests against the other competitors Fiji and Samoa also both hosted Scotland. Such a scenario is not going to be repeated in 2013 due to Samoa´s participation in a new four team tournament to be played in South Africa. Samoa will join Italy and Scotland in the tournament which will be played from June 08-22 and all but excludes the highest ranked Tier Two nation from playing in the Pacific Nations Cup in 2013. Samoa has, no doubt, been included due to its performances in recent seasons. It has defeated Australia and Wales to rise to be ranked 7th in the world. Without question Samoa will get better competition from playing against Italy and Scotland than from facing Fiji, Japan and Tonga. 

The event will also be great for South Africa as it provides a good financial alternative to hosting either Italy or Scotland for two tests. With the British and Irish Lions facing Australia in June 2013 and France touring New Zealand the competition offers a welcome alternative to the problem of Southern powers hosting reputable tours during the years in which the Lions are playing. Argentina in 2013 will host England, but England will be missing its Lions players. Wales, at the same time will tour Japan and Ireland will tour North America. Ireland´s tests against Canada and the United States of America have been well known for quite some time. The dates and venues are yet to be announced but it is clear that it will go ahead. The North American nations will not face each other in June 2013 due to 2013 being the year for the Americas 1 and Americas 2 Rugby World Cup Qualification matches. Canada and the USA are all but certain to face off in July with the USA hosting the first match due it Canada having the superior IRB World Ranking. 

The hole that will be created by Samoa playing in South Africa and the North Americans not facing off in June 2013 is likely to be bridged by a new set of matches, possibly being played as an official tournament which would see Canada and the USA replace Samoa in the Pacific Nations Cup. USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville has been pushing for the involvement of the USA (and Canada) in a Tier Two competition, namely the Pacific Nations Cup. Given that both North American nations played in Northern Wales last month and that both have previously hosted editions of the defunct Churchill Cup it is a realistic possibility for Canada and the USA to face Fiji, Japan and Tonga in June 2013 and also face Ireland. This could mean a four test schedule with the North Americans playing host to Ireland, Japan, Fiji and Tonga. Should it eventuate it would be tremendous progress for the second tier and could see the birth of an annual tournament superior to that of the Churchill Cup. Samoa´s loss to the Pacific Nations Cup would be terrible but Samoa is better served in facing Tier One opposition in June 2013 and June 2014.  

Potential Canada Fixture List
June 08 Canada v Tonga
June 15 Canada v Fiji
June 22 Canada v Ireland
June 29 Canada v Japan

Potential USA Fixture List
June 08 USA v Fiji
June 15 USA v Tonga
June 22 USA v Japan
June 29 USA v Ireland

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