Rugby Americas has announced positive changes to its senior men’s 15s competition structure in order to further assist the growth of the game across the region by minimising the conflict amongst competitions.
The Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) – Rugby Americas’ flagship high-performance tournament for men’s 15s – will now take place in August and September from 2020 onward.
The 2020 schedule announcement aligns with the global competition calendar and occurs just weeks after record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2019 ended with South Africa lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.
The new calendar focuses on optimising high-performance outcomes for players in the Americas region while minimizing conflict with club and professional duties from January to June.
In addition to the third season of Major League Rugby that will get underway in February, the Superliga Americana announced last Friday in Montevideo, Uruguay, will boost competitiveness across South America. The newly formed six-team competition includes franchises from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile, while another from Colombia will join in 2021.
The change in dates allows for an uninterrupted pre-season and professional competition for athletes in North and South America and a perfect window for national team coaches to evaluate those they want to invite into their assemblies for national duty. The traditional June test match window will now shift to July, before teams compete in the Americas Rugby Championship in August and September.
The annual November test window will remain the same.
The six-team round-robin ARC features Argentina XV and the national teams of Brazil, Chile, Canada, Uruguay and USA. In 2020, the competition will take place over five consecutive weekends. Announcements will be made in early 2020 with specific city and venue locations for each match.
Defending champions Argentina XV will begin their quest for their third title at home against Chile on 15 August before travelling to Uruguay a week later and Brazil on 29 August. Following a home fixture against Canada on 5 September, they will end their campaign against two-time winners USA – the only other team to lift the coveted trophy – at home on 12 September.
Since its inception in 2016, the ARC has been vital to the growth and development of rugby across the Americas, with four nations qualifying in the recent Rugby World Cup in Japan. Uruguay pulled off one of the most exciting upsets of the tournament, knocking off Fiji 30-27 in Kamaishi City.
In the World Rugby Men's Rankings, Argentina are the highest placed Americas team in 10th place, while the USA sit 17th and Uruguay 18th. Canada, Brazil and Chile are ranked 22nd, 26th and 29th respectively.
In addition to the ARC, the Americas Rugby Challenge has been underpinning growth throughout the Americas over the last two years.
Moving forward, the winner of the Americas Rugby Challenge – which is currently being contested by Colombia and Paraguay representing Sudámerica Rugby, along with Mexico and the 2020 Rugby Americas North champion – will play a one game play-off against the sixth place finisher from the Americas Rugby Challenge in a promotion-relegation showdown.
The play-off, held at the location of the sixth place finisher from the ARC, will take place during the November test match window.
Following a similar format from the past two years, the 2020 edition of the Americas Rugby Challenge will take place from 22-30 August, with the location still to be announced. The four competing nations will face off in three double-header game days on 22, 26 and 30 August, with the winner being decided based on cumulated points.
Colombia, ranked 33rd, have dominated the competition over the last two years, lifting the trophy on each occasion without defeat in the tournament.
Mexico made history in the 2019 edition by picking up their first-ever victory over now 46th ranked Paraguay, which vaulted them to their best-ever position of 44th – a climb of seven places. The 2019 Rugby Americas North 15s champions the Cayman Islands, rounded out the competition in 57th position.
World Rugby Vice-Chairman and Rugby Americas President Agustín Pichot said: “There has been a lot of hard work, cooperation and contribution amongst all member unions within the Americas to build Under-20 competitions that underpin, both the Americas Rugby Championship and Americas Rugby Challenge. We now have it and a pathway for Americas Rugby Challenge champions to compete for promotion to the ARC. It is precisely the merit-based competition model we wanted to create across the Americas. If teams/unions perform, they earn the opportunity to progress upwards.”
Rugby Americas CEO Dan Payne said: “Over the last two years Major League Rugby has provided an invaluable high-performance platform for domestic growth in North America and last Friday’s launch of the Superliga Americana in South America is another exciting step for the Americas. Today’s announcement ensures a proper year-round schedule for clubs, unions and athletes to maximize performance in both professional and national team environments.”
Americas Rugby Championship 2020 schedule
Argentina XV v Chile
USA v Canada
Uruguay v Brazil
Canada v Brazil
Uruguay v Argentina XV
USA v Chile
Brazil v Argentina XV
Canada v Chile
USA v Uruguay
Argentina XV v Canada
Brazil v USA
Chile v Uruguay
Argentina XV v USA
Chile v Brazil
Uruguay v Canada
Americas Rugby Challenge 2020
22 August – Double-header game day
26 August – Double-header game day
30 August – Double-header game day