Saturday's international match in Santiago between Chile and Brazil took place one day after officials from both countries together with those from Argentina, Uruguay, Canada and the USA had held talks in Miami to discuss the details surrounding a new Americas Six Nations Championship. Should the proposed competition obtain World Rugby approval then it is to get underway in 2016 and take place parallel to the European Six Nations. The proposed time frame of the competition has been made to enable those based in Europe to be available for international duty.
Divided into North and South America in geographical terms but operating under NACRA and CONSUR in international rugby competition the Americas is a region of vast future potential for global rugby. Rugby World Cup 2015 is to have four countries from the Americas involved and three of them are among the four largest countries involved in the competition.
In area terms Canada and the USA are the two largest countries with teams at Rugby World Cup 2015. Australia is in third and Argentina in fourth. The four are among the world's eight largest countries with the next World Cup competitor in territorial size being South Africa which is the world's 25th largest country. The only remaining World Cup 2015 competitor which falls within the top 50 is France which, including Metropolitan France and overseas regions, is 42nd.
In population terms the USA is the largest. The population of 320 million is far and away the largest of all participants and third overall in the world behind China and India. Japan with 126 million comes in second ahead of France (66 million), Italy (60 million), South Africa (54 million) and England (53 million). Also in the top 50 are Argentina (43 million) and Canada (35 million). Completing the top ten are Australia (23 million), Romania (20 million) and the island of Ireland (6.4 million)
Herein lies the share value of what is being proposed to World Rugby at present. The two countries regarded as the weakest have notably large markets so much so that Chile's 18 million population is more than half the the twenty participants at this year's World Cup. Moreover the smallest from the would be Uruguay which is larger in area than all of Ireland and Wales and has a larger population than the later.
The current market size is a shadow of what it could be and the Americas Six Nations offers a manner of bridging the gap while giving those involved significantly improved international competition. Authorities from both Canada and the USA have been vocal in their pleas for increased international competition and the same is true of Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. The five annual matches per team in the competition also including Argentina is to be a dream come true for all.
There is reason for optimism that it will be a success as the combined population would make it rugby's largest event, in population terms, outside of the Rugby World Cup. The combined population of the twenty Rugby World Cup 2015 teams is 826.45 million while the Americas Six Nations have 623.4 million. The share size underlines why Argentina, Canada and the USA are looking to not only include Uruguay but also both Brazil and Chile.
With populations of 204 million and 18 million the product value of a Pan American Six Nations competition carries with it substantial value. The commercial value of rugby has increased significantly in Argentina and neighboring countries post 2007 with Brazil being a major market offers great benefits to all.
Chile is a two time host of the World Rugby Under 20 Trophy and has a history of performing with merit against Rugby World Cup participants. In 2010 Chile lost narrowly at home against Tonga while back in 2002 Chile defeated the USA 21-13 and then in 2014 Los Condores won 30-24 v Georgia. Argentina and Uruguay remain superior but increased competition and the benefits of a Pan American competition offer great hope.
Brazil's hosting of the 2016 Olympic Games has World Rugby authorities on a close watch. With the sport making it's debut in Rugby Sevens form the tournament needs to run smoothly and Brazil is required to compete. The lead-up has seen senior players miss test matches to focus on their Sevens ' games and performances on the world circuit have been improved.
The platform has therefore been established for all six unions. What remains is to finalize agreements with World Rugby, sponsors and broadcasters. The unions collectively agree on playing fully capped test matches which will count towards World Rankings and will be played in February and March. Regulation 9 will require that European clubs make their players available if called-upon for international duty.
The unions are working to establish a five year plan which would see the competition run from 2016-2010 before being renegotiated. Brazil and Chile would therefore be safe throughout this period but thereafter alterations are entirely possible. Work will focus on how to integrate others such as Paraguay who defeated Brazil in 2014. The comments to have emerged from authorities thus far firmly suggest nobody is to be left behind or ignored.