Final bow for Churchill Cup
June 18, 2011
Canada and the USA have used the Churchill Cup to improve the sport's profile in their country © Getty Images
The Churchill Cup organisers have confirmed this will be the tournament's last season.
With Canada and the United States, who have played in every Churchill Cup, now included in the International Rugby Board's tournaments and tour schedule, it means they will play home Tests during June against top Test-playing nations from next summer. The USA scooped the Bowl in the 2011 tournament, while Canada reached the final against England Saxons.
The decision to end a Churchill Cup agreement that began with the inaugural competition in 2003 was taken jointly by the Rugby Football Union, USA Rugby and Rugby Canada, in consultation with the IRB. "The Churchill Cup has provided what we had all hoped for - regular international competition for USA and Canada in a showpiece event, which has been hosted in 17 venues and included 13 participating nations since 2003," said Paul Vaughan, the RFU's business operations director and a Churchill Cup executive member.
"It has also given refereeing and coaching opportunities for all three unions and ultimately strengthened the relationship between us. The initial period of the alliance agreement was five years (2002-2007) and it was subsequently renewed on a two-year rolling basis. The latest agreement will expire at the end of the current tournament, and it was felt by all parties that Canada and USA should be fully integrated into the existing portfolio of international strategic investment tournaments.
"In addition, the success of playing additional fixtures in Australia and New Zealand in 2010 and the need to support three Test Series, has led to the conclusion that the development and performance of England's elite and potential elite players is best delivered in the future with midweek matches alongside the Test matches. We will continue to support USA Rugby and Canada as we much as we can, and wish their teams all the best at Rugby World Cup 2011."
Nigel Melville, Chief Executive of USA Rugby, said: "I would like to thank all those who have supported the Churchill Cup over the last decade, especially the Rugby Football Union for their unerring commitment to the alliance between them, ourselves and Rugby Canada. We cannot underestimate the benefit the tournament has given to our players."
Rugby Canada Chief Executive Graham Brown added: "It has been a real journey from that first tournament in Vancouver back in 2003 and credit should go to all those who have made the Churchill Cup happen, from the participating unions through to sponsors and the IRB. It gave us regular international competition when there wasn't any and we can now look forward to being integrated into the match schedules built on a foundation of having had those June Tests for the last nine years."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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