The International Rugby Board has announced that the Argentina Pampas will participate in a new-look IRB Pacific Rugby Cup in 2014.
For the first time the tournament will be hosted entirely in Australia and will be organised by the IRB in partnership with the Australian Rugby Union.
The key development tournament which is funded through the IRB’s Strategic Investment Programme kicks off on February 21 and features Super Rugby franchise development sides from Australia competing against development squads from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Japan and for the first time Argentina.
The main objective of this tournament, which runs until March 23, is to bridge the gap between domestic and international Rugby for the best locally-based players from the participating Unions. The Pampas XV, Argentina’s main development squad formed from the Union’s best domestic based players, will complete a strong line-up.
The PRC begins with a match in Perth between Western Australia and Queensland. Matches will also be held in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and the Gold Coast with the final to be played on Sunday 23 March in Sydney.
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“With Rugby World Cup 2015 on the horizon, exposure to this High Performance level of competition is invaluable for the Pacific Island Unions, Japan and Argentina,” said IRB Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan.
“We are extremely grateful to the ARU for their cooperation and support in hosting the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup which is an important element of the IRB’s overall Strategic Investment competitions portfolio.”
Fiji are the reigning champions and the only team to have successfully defended the title, having won the PRC every year since 2009.
Between 2009 and 2012 the IRB invested nearly GBP £16million in Pacific Islands rugby. It is forecast that a further GBP £19 million will be invested between 2013 and 2016 through development, regional tournaments and high-performance programmes. This funding is aimed at raising performances and providing the necessary infrastructure and support to continue to compete at the highest level.