New Five Nations launched

The International Rugby Board has announced the schedule for the inaugural Pacific Islands Five Nations tournament

The IRB are hoping the event will nurture new talent in one of rugby’s top nurseries. The tournament, involving Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Japan and New Zealand’s Junior All Blacks, begins on June 3 with matches in Fiji and Japan.

Matches will take place over five weeks in New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Fiji, giving the struggling island nations a new and guaranteed source of international competition.

“The Pacific Five Nations is an IRB tournament that is funded as part of the $US50 million ($65.85 million), three-year global strategic investment program that was launched last August,” IRB head of rugby services, Mark Egan, said.

“The aim of the global strategic investment program is to increase the competitiveness of the world game and Rugby World Cup through a number of high performance, infrastructure and tournament initiatives,” Egan said.

Egan said the tournament would provide more certainty for Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga in terms of regular, high level Test match rugby, while also providing a high level of competition for the Junior All Blacks.