The International Rugby Board has announced that Fiji will host the Pacific Nations Cup in 2009. The appointment of what is considered the key rugby tournament for the Pacific Islands is a vital component for their continued expansion.
The Fijians will host the core of the tournament, hosting matches at the National Stadium in Suva, Churchill Park in Lautoka, and Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka.
Prior to this, Samoa will host the Junior All Blacks in Apia, and Tonga will welcome the Fijians in Nuka’alofa.
The tournament will feature the three Pacific Nations teams, as well as the Junior All Blacks and Japan. This year, Australia A will not take part in the tournament.
The IRB’s Chairman Bernard Lapasset was ecstatic to announce the hosting in the Pacific Islands, where normally the Cup is formatted in home-and-away style matches with the respective nations.
“The hosting of the majority of ANZ Pacific Nations Cup matches for the first time in a single country is a very exciting development for a tournament which is now a major event in the global Rugby calendar,” Lapasset stated.
“Fiji has a rich Rugby heritage and a passion for the Game and I am sure that the country will embrace their first major IRB international 15-a-side event and deliver a special and memorable tournament that will serve to boost the profile of Rugby across the region.”
“The Game continues to grow exponentially in the Islands, thanks to the delivery of dedicated High Performance programmes and Union management initiatives as key elements of the IRB’s unprecedented £48 million global Strategic Investment Programme.”
“A key element of this strategy is the delivery of world class tournaments such as the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup and the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, which now completes a defined high-performance competition pathway for Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga.”
“The fruits were clearly seen at Rugby World Cup 2007 were Fiji reached the quarter finals and Tonga and Japan produced their best-ever RWC performances. I am sure that the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup 2009 will serve to lift performance levels once again as these teams look towards Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand,” Lapasset enthused.
The championship provides a welcome boost to Fiji that has unfortunately had its share of negative news and publicity of late.
It will provide the Fijian Rugby Union with high level event experience, as well as ensuring that the nation celebrates in what will be its own “World Cup.”
All in all, it is an excellent initiative by the IRB, who will provide over $1 million in direct funding for the Cup.
Keni Dakuidreketi, the acting CEO of the Fijian Union, is also excited.
“The Fiji Rugby Union is delighted to be playing host to such a major international Rugby tournament. This is a very proud moment for the Union and for the country and reflects the hard work that has been achieved by the Union in conjunction with the IRB in developing the infrastructure required to host the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup.”, Dakuidreketi said.
"We are all looking forward to welcoming the teams and their supporters for what promises to be a very special festival of international Rugby.”