The International Rugby Board has confirmed that Fiji will host the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup 2009. The awarding of the key international tournament to the Fiji Rugby Union represents a further boost to the continued development of Rugby in the region.
National teams from Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga will be joined by 2006 and 2007 champions the Junior All Blacks for the strategically important IRB funded tournament which kicks off on June 12.
The two opening round matches will be played outside of Fiji with Samoa hosting the Junior All Blacks in Apia and Tonga entertaining the Fijians in Nuku'alofa the following day before the tournament moves to Fiji for a 17-day festival of international Rugby spread across three match venues - the National Stadium (Suva), Churchill Park (Lautoka) and Lawaqa Park (Sigatoka).
"The hosting of the majority of ANZ Pacific Nations Cup matches for the first time in a single country is a very exciting development for a tournament which is now a major event in the global Rugby calendar," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"Fiji has a rich Rugby heritage and a passion for the Game and I am sure that the country will embrace their first major IRB international fifteen-a-side event and deliver a special and memorable tournament that will serve to boost the profile of Rugby across the region."
"The Game continues to grow exponentially in the Islands thanks to the delivery of dedicated High Performance programmes and Union management initiatives as key elements of the IRB's unprecedented £48 million global Strategic Investment Programme."
"A key element of this strategy is the delivery of world class tournaments such as the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup and the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup which now completes a defined high performance competition pathway for Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga."
"The fruits were clearly seen at Rugby World Cup 2007 were Fiji reached the quarter finals and Tonga and Japan produced their best-ever RWC performances. I am sure that the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup 2009 will serve to lift performance levels once again as these teams look towards Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand," added Lapasset.
The tournament will also provide the opportunity for a comprehensive development and legacy programme that will provide Fiji Rugby Union staff with major international event experience, while introducing new fans to Rugby across the region. The Fijian economy will also directly benefit from around US$1 million in direct IRB funding for the tournament.
Keni Dakuidreketi, acting CEO of the Fiji Rugby Union, added: "The Fiji Rugby Union is delighted to be playing host to such a major international Rugby tournament. This is a very proud moment for the Union and for the country and reflects the hard work that has been achieved by the Union in conjunction with the IRB in developing the infrastructure required to host the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup.
"We are all looking forward to welcoming the teams and their supporters for what promises to be a very special festival of international Rugby."