The World Rugby Pacific Challenge 2020, which kicks off in exactly one month will bring together the best young players from the Pacific Islands and Japan in the Fijian capital of Suva for an eight-day competition (6-14 March).
Organised as a round-robin event with all three rounds played at the ANZ Stadium, the line-up for this year’s Pacific Challenge will feature defending champions Fiji Warriors, Junior Japan, Tonga A and Samoa A.
The team that records the maximum number of competition points across three match days on 6, 10 and 14 March will be crowned Pacific Challenge Champions on 14 March.
The World Rugby funded tournament is a proven player development platform in the Pacific Islands and Asia, delivering a high-performance pathway for a core group of under-23 players from domestic to international rugby.
In 2019, Fiji Warriors lifted the Pacific Challenge trophy for the fourth year in a row and have now won nine titles in the competition’s 12-year history.
Four of the players instrumental to the Warriors’ title-winning success were selected for the squad for Rugby World Cup 2019 after impressing in Suva. Scrum-half Frank Lomani, loose-forward Mosese Voka and prop Eroni Mawi started every match and scored a brace of tries apiece, while hooker Mesulame Dolokoto wore the starting jersey in two games.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “It will be very exciting to witness the next generation of talented young Pacific Islands and Japanese players in action during the Pacific Challenge 2020. The Pacific region and Japan made a huge contribution to the success of Rugby World Cup 2019 with their unique skill, style and determination.
“World Rugby is fully committed to developing the sport around the globe and it is very rewarding to see players graduate from competitions such as the Pacific Challenge to go on and shine at the Rugby World Cup as a number of players did at Japan 2019.”
“The Pacific Challenge is part of a comprehensive four-year programme of high-performance support in the region that includes initiatives such as the Pacific Combine and the Fijian Drua, which help retain and develop the Pacific Islands’ best young talent.”
The Pacific Challenge will also give several players set to represent Fiji and Japan at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy this June further exposure to international competition. No less than 11 of the squad for the Pacific Challenge 2019 helped Fiji win the World Rugby U20 Trophy in Romania last year.