IRB unveils new Americas tournament; October final in Toronto
IRB unveils new Americas tournament
15th July 2009
The ARC is a key component of the IRB's Strategic Investment Programme, which includes significant investment in USA, Canada and Argentina.
The new tournament features six teams, including four provincial sides from Canada joined by the Argentina Jaguars and USA 'A'.
The format unites Rugby in North and South America in a high performance sub-international structure for the first time.
"The Americas Rugby Championship is a huge step forward for elite Rugby in North and South America," said Mark Egan, IRB Head of Development and Performance.
"Canada, USA and Argentina are priority Unions for our High Performance investment programme and their domestic based players and coaches require a tournament format that exposes them to high level cross border competition on a more regular basis."
"The tournament is currently structured to primarily focus on our High Performance Unions in the Region, however, it is hoped that it will expand over time to include other countries such as Uruguay, Chile, Mexico and Brazil."
Canadian Regional teams Atlantic, Ontario, Prairies and British Columbia will re-ignite traditional rivalries in a round robin pool taking place in September. The top four will qualify for the semi-finals held on October 10, with the finals taking place on October 17 in Toronto.
"The ARC competition is key to developing the link between our domestic rugby structure and our national team program. The competition will provide our domestic based athletes with high performance structures and competition pathways that will be used to strengthen our domestic player base on a annualized basis," said Graham Brown, Rugby Canada Chief Executive Officer.
Nigel Melville, USA Rugby Chief Executive, said: "The ARC will provide Eagles head coach Eddie O'Sullivan and his coaches with an opportunity to observe and work with domestically based potential Eagles players prior to the important November international window. The introduction of Argentina and possible expansion to include other teams in the future is an exciting expansion of our cross border aspirations for the event."
I'm not sure how this impacts Argentina's long-rumoured foray into Sanzar competitions, but I've been urging the IRB to get North & South America into some sort of regular competition for the past decade.
Kinda weird how it's four teams from Canada and only one from each of the USA and Argentina, however. I would have believed the Argies were well in advance of Canada, and USA at a similar level to Canada. Will have to wait and see how it transpires.
I'm also puzzled about the calendar. A final in Toronto in the latter half of October is a nail biter. Snow typically doesn't come that way until late-November or December, but it's snowed in late October there before, and regardless will have a chill in the air. That's why Canada usually had it's international test program during the summer months of June to August.
It will be cool to see it expand to additional South American nations, as outlined.
The above report comes directly from the IRB, and it's piss-poor confusion. I've been seeking clarification, but none forthcoming so far. I am guessing that USA 'A" and Argie Jags get automatic berths into the final 4, and the four Canadian teams do a round-robin to determine their two qualifiers. I'm guessing the Americans and Jags contest one semi, to gurantee a Canadian finalist. If that's the case, then the Canadian finalist will have played four matches to qualify, and the other finalist possibly just a single game (?). I dunno, your guess is as good as mine.