Dublin – Ireland, Aug 12, 2013: Tier two nations will play a record total of 20 Test matches in this year’s November internationals as the build-up to Rugby World Cup 2015 in England continues.
The strong programme is being financed and supported by the IRB, which invests more than £10.5 million each year in high-performance programmes and competitions for Tier Two countries.
Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Russia, USA, Canada, Romania, Japan, Uruguay, Portugal, Georgia, Chile, Brazil and Spain will all be in action, with the three Pacific Island teams and Japan once again facing tier one level opposition as they enter an important phase in the preparations for RWC 2015 in England.
With plenty of IRB World Rankings points at stake, the November schedule will see historic first-ever visits by Pacific Island Unions Samoa and Tonga to Georgia and Romania, respectively, as well as Portugal visiting Sao Paulo to take on Brazil for a first-ever Test match between the two sides.
Rugby World Cup 2019 hosts Japan will also build their development platform as they play New Zealand in Tokyo before travelling to Europe to play Scotland, Russia and Spain.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “This is an exciting time for Rugby worldwide and thanks to the ongoing commercial success of Rugby World Cup, the IRB has been able to invest record sums in the Game.”
“The November 2012 and June 2013 programmes have really showcased the tremendous competitive strides that Tier 2 Unions are making with Samoa defeating Wales, Scotland and Italy, Tonga defeating Scotland and Japan recording a first-ever victory over Wales. I am anticipating a truly captivating November series of matches.”
It has already been an unprecedented year for Tier two Rugby nations, with an extensive June programme witnessing the expansion of the IRB Pacific Nations Cup to include USA and Canada. June also witnessed the launch of the IRB Tbilisi Cup in Georgia, where the hosts welcomed Uruguay and development sides from South Africa and Ireland.
The success of Rugby World Cup as a major global brand has provided the platform for the IRB to finance and deliver an unprecedented annual schedule of matches for tier two nations in the important June and November international windows.
“The November fixtures are playing a massive role in the development of Unions who have been identified by the IRB as part of a major Strategic Investment Programme,” said Mark Egan, IRB Head of Competitions and Performance.
“These IRB World Ranking matches will enable coaches to assess players in a competitive environment, while giving the IRB the opportunity to benchmark the progress of the top ranked tier two Unions against both each other and, in some cases, against Tier One opposition.”
“We are also looking at a number of Test options for Unions such as Namibia and hope to announce some additional November fixtures for our performance group of Unions in the near future.”
The IRB also continues to invest in the now established and successful tournaments including the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, IRB Pacific Nations Cup, Americas Rugby Championship, IRB Nations Cup as well as the IRB Tbilisi Cup.
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