This will be the last Churchill Cup as Canada and USA become integrated into the global rugby calendar.
The Churchill Cup has provided regular Test competition for the North American unions and opportunities for 11 other nations since 2003 to develop their players in an elite environment – a model which has now been adopted by the International Rugby Board for the Nations Cup and the Pacific Nations Cup.
Now Canada and USA have been included in the new IRB strategic investment tournaments and tours schedule and have confirmed June inbound home tests against Tier 1 opposition in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
They also have a full November test match programme against other Tier 2 unions in Europe and the Americas Rugby Championship programme, which will provide both unions with a highly competitive and relevant international match schedule for their elite players.
This has has led to a joint decision taken by the RFU, USA Rugby and Rugby Canada, in consultation with the IRB to end the Churchill Cup agreememt.
RFU Business Operations Director Paul Vaughan and a member of the Churchill Cup Executive, said: “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. It has also given refereeing and coaching opportunities for all three unions and ultimately strengthened the relationship between us. We would like to thank all those who have made the Churchill Cup a success, including previous sponsors Barclays and our broadcast partners Sky Sports.
“The initial period of the alliance agreement was five years (2002-2007) and 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 Tests 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.”