For the first time since the IRB World Rankings began, the top 20 teams in the world will all be playing matches during the November Test window.
In addition to the traditional Tier 1 Tests, the IRB has announced details of an exciting programme of matches for Tier 2 Unions and a supplementary programme of matches against Tier 1 'A' teams.
The IRB has been working closely with the Unions in the Strategic Investment Programme to ensure that they have a relevant and competitive November international match schedule.
The action-packed schedule is designed to compliment the IRB funded strategic investment tournaments programme and forms an essential component of the overall High Performance investment strategy.
The first match kicks off this evening when Americas Rugby Championship winners the Argentina Jaguars take on Canada A in Chatham, Ontario. Namibia will prepare for their Rugby World Cup 2011 qualifiers against Tunisia by facing Portugal at the Estádio Universitário in Lisbon on November 7.
November will also witness the first ever visit of an Argentinean team to Georgia, when to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Georgia Rugby Union when the Jaguars face the Lelos in Tbilisi on November 13.
Other stand out fixtures include Fiji's visit to Bucharest to face Romania, while Russia will also tour Canada for the first time, providing intriguing contests between Unions with serious ambitions of moving up the IRB World Rankings.
Tonga, who will play New Zealand in the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2011, face tough matches against Ireland A and Scotland A before travelling to Portugal to take on the European Nations Cup high-flyers on November 28.
"This is an unprecedented and exciting November schedule of matches which we intend to replicate on an annual basis as a part of our HP investment strategy. The IRB is providing significant funding towards the flights and accommodation costs of the overall programme and we would like to recognise the financial contribution of the SRU, FIR and IRFU in supporting the games which they are hosting," said IRB Head of Development and Performance Mark Egan.
"The IRB continues to invest over £5.5million annually via a portfolio of Regional tournaments such as the European Nations Cup and strategic investment tournaments, including the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup, IRB Nations Cup and the Americas Rugby Championship. These tournaments play an essential role in each Union's player development pathway with the ultimate objective of improving competitiveness across all our Strategic Investment Programme Unions."
"However, it is essential that all our High Performance Unions have between seven and 10 Test match level games each year in order to benchmark player and coach development programmes, challenge for IRB World Ranking points and provide a competition environment in which Unions can prepare for RWC 2011 in New Zealand."
"The programme also provides for an exciting opportunity for the recently formed Argentina Jaguars to embark on their inaugural tour of Europe following investment from the IRB in the UAR's domestic High Performance structures," added Egan.
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