The biennial Oceania Rugby Cup is the region’s leading competition for performance and development unions, but this year the winner will progress to a play-off against the Asia Rugby Championship 2018 winner with the prize being a place in the RWC 2019 repechage tournament.
The winner of the four-team repechage will join defending champions New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and the Africa 1 qualifier in Pool B at RWC 2019.
“The significance of this tournament to the Oceania region cannot be understated in regards to the valuable competition and opportunities that it provides to the development and performance unions within the region,” said Bruce Cook, World Rugby’s Rugby Services Manager for Oceania.
It will the first time that the Cook Islands have hosted a Rugby World Cup qualifying event since 2008 when they faced Niue, and the 4 August showdown with Tahiti falls on the Constitution Day public holiday in the Cook Islands.
By that time, the Oceania 1 and Oceania 2 qualifiers will have been determined with Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to complete that process with the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup taking place from 1-15 July. The winner qualifies for RWC 2019 as Oceania 1 to join Australia, Wales, Georgia and Americas 2 in Pool D, and the runner-up as Oceania 2 alongside England, France, Argentina and Americas 1 in Pool C.
“The game against Tahiti is only three months off but it will come around quickly. We need to work hard to ensure the success of this game as a RWC qualification event and an international match against our closest neighbours,” said Cook Islands Rugby Union President Moana Moeka’a.
“It’s been a long time between drinks. The last time we played Tahiti in Rarotonga was in 2001 and before that in 1985 when Cook Islands hosted the Mini South Pacific Games.”