Australia’s best emerging talent will compete against national representative teams from Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and Argentina in the 2014 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup (PRC).
The competition was established in 2006 to help develop rugby in Pacific nations, but for the first time in 2014, it will include the Argentina Pampas and will be held entirely in Australia.
The tournament is organised by the IRB in partnership with Australian Rugby Union and will feature Australian Super Rugby ‘A’ sides made up of development squad members as well as players from junior pathways including State Under-20 teams.
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said it is a valuable platform for players who are looking to make the step to Super Rugby and beyond.
“This tournament provides a great avenue for current and aspiring Waratahs players to stake their claim for a place in the New South Wales team in the Super Rugby competition. There is no better place for players to show their skills than in the match environment,” Cheika said.
“The timing is perfect as it parallels the start of our Super Rugby season and sits just before the start of our Shute Shield competition for the Sydney clubs so all players involved are preparing in a competitive match arena as opposed to training.”
Australian Rugby Union General Manager Development Pathways Ben Whitaker said involving Australian teams in the tournament is aimed at improving the pathway to develop more elite players across the country.
“This tournament will help bridge the gap between domestic and international rugby for our best locally-based players who aren’t required at a Super Rugby level,” Whitaker said.
“It also helps us forge strong relationships with developing rugby nations and it forms an important step in the pathway players will take from the grassroots right through to elite and national representation. Ultimately, we’d love to see a player compete in this year’s Pacific Rugby Cup represent Australia at next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“We encourage rugby fans to get out and support all teams competing in the competition, with free entry at all fixtures at matches to be held in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth and the Gold Coast.”
Fiji is the reigning Pacific Rugby Cup champion, and is the only team to have successfully defended the title, having won the PRC every year since 2009.
Teams will be split into two pools and will play each team in their pool once, with the final to be played by the top-placed team from each pool.
The 2014 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup starts on Friday 21 February with a match between Western Force A and Queensland Reds A in Perth. The final will be held in Sydney on Sunday 23 March.