The Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) today announced the 2013 Oceania Cup schedule, which this year doubles as a Rugby World Cup 2015 regional qualifying event to be hosted in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, commencing on July 6.
Cook Islands and Tahiti will open tournament proceedings, followed by defending Oceania Cup champions and hosts Papua New Guinea taking on Solomon Islands. The tournament will be a round-robin format, with the winner determined by the total number of competition points gained across the three tournament rounds.
It will also double as a RWC 2015 qualifying event with the winner going on to play Fiji in 2014 to determine the Oceania 1 position to join Australia, hosts England and Wales in Pool A at RWC 2015.
Host Union President Richard Sapias says the Papua New Guinea Rugby Union (PNGRU) and the people of Papua New Guinea are looking forward to playing host to such a significant regional tournament.
“The Oceania Cup is a very important regional tournament and provides a vital pathway for the players and coaches of the region’s development Rugby Unions. This year it has increased significance with the winner to play Fiji in 2014 in the Oceania RWC 2015 qualifier. PNG are the defending Oceania Cup champions and while the PNG team will have strong competition from Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Tahiti, the people of PNG are looking forward to watching their national team defend the cup.”
Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Teams from the Oceania region have always contributed so much to Rugby World Cups down through the years and we expect 2015 to be no different.
“As is the case all over the world, it is great to see this competitive tournament provide a clear pathway for all teams in Oceania towards the pinnacle tournament of our great sport. Possible participation in the Rugby World Cup is a great incentive for these Unions to continue their impressive development.”
Oceania Cup Tournament Director Michael Groom said: “The Oceania Cup not only facilitates a vital international competition pathway for the participating Unions’ players and coaches, it also provides the host with vital exposure and experience in managing and delivering international tournaments. We look forward to the PNGRU delivering a successful 2013 Oceania Cup.”
The 2013 Oceania Cup will be Papua New Guinea’s second consecutive defence of the Oceania Cup having initially won the trophy in 2009.