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The fixtures for the World Rugby Pacific Challenge to be played in Fiji next month has been released by World Rugby.
Fiji Warriors who have won the title for a record seven times will battle against Junior Japan, Samoa and Tonga A.
Fiji face Samoa A in their opening match on March 9 at the ANZ Stadium in Suva. This will be followed by Junior Japan on March 13 and lastly Tonga A on March 17.
Competition will be played over three rounds and the team with the highest points on the points table will be declared the 2018 champion.
The competition will be an under-23 level competition but five senior players are permitted.
A report on World Rugby stated it has increased its investment to more than £20.3 million ($F50.6m) in Pacific Islands rugby within the 2016-19 investment cycle, an increase of 19 per cent on the previous cycle.
World Rugby head of competitions and performance Mark Egan said
"World Rugby is committed to providing a meaningful high-performance pathway for tier two nations and the Pacific Challenge is key to that objective."
"Not only does it deliver exposure to international rugby for emerging Test players, but it plays an important role in enabling unions to keep promising talent within their own structures, and in Fiji's case, combines with the Fijian Drua's participation in the Australian National Rugby Championship to achieve that objective," he said.
Fiji Warriors fixtures :
* Friday March 9, 2018, 5pm - Fiji Warriors v Samoa A, ANZ Stadium , Suva
* Tuesday March 13, 2018: 5pm Fiji Warriors v Junior Japan, ANZ Stadium, Suva
* Saturday March 17, 2018: 3.30pm Fiji v Tonga, ANZ Stadium, Suva
Meanwhile, John Mckee,the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians coach, believes the June international Tests are a crucial part of his plans for the build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Georgia, Romania and Tonga are heading to Fiji in June.
McKee said the forward play of the opposition would be the test for his Fijian side.
"Looking at the June Test it is good to have some other teams coming to the Pacific to play," he said.
"Georgia and Romania, it is really good for us in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup playing teams with very strong forward packs to really test our forward pack under that type of pressure and also Georgia who are in our pool at the World Cup," he said.
Fiji, Australia, Wales and Georgia make up Pool D for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. McKee said another three international Test matches are lined up in November but opted to comment once the Tests were finalised.
The Flying Fijians coach guided the Fiji Giants team at the Brisbane Global 10s event last weekend. The team remained in Australia as they will play a match against Queensland Reds tomorrow night as the Fiji Warriors before heading home.
This will be the Reds last pre-season match before the start of the 2018 Super Rugby season.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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