England facing the Tongan Haka

TONGA and Italy A will make their Churchill Cup debut in England this June. They will join Canada, Russia, USA Eagles and holders England Saxons over a two-week period beginning on June 4 and reaching its climax on June 18 at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium.

With the Rugby World Cup starting in September, the ninth Churchill Cup provides an ideal pre-tournament team warm up opportunity and for a number of players to knock on the selectors door to represent their country in New Zealand. The full fixture list, including pools and venues, which will include Franklin’s Gardens and Kingsholm, are now confirmed as the tournament returns to England from its traditional North American base for the first time since 2007.

Paul Vaughan, the RFU’s Business Operations Director and a member of the Churchill Cup Executive, said: “With no summer tour for England this June, this is a great opportunity to for rugby fans to see six quality international teams on their doorstep. We will work with the host clubs to ensure tickets will be reasonably priced and reflect the quality of rugby on offer across this tournament.

“With England playing Wales at Twickenham in an Investec International on August 6 in preparation for the World Cup, there will be plenty of top class action available to the rugby fan.”

2011 Churchill Cup

Pool A
England Saxons

Pool B
Italy A

Saturday June 4, Northampton Saints
Italy A v Canada
England Saxons v USA

Wednesday June 8, Esher RFC
Tonga v USA
Russia v Canada

Sunday June 12, Gloucester Rugby
Italy A v Russia
England Saxons v Tonga

Saturday June 18, Worcester Warriors
Bowl Final
Plate Final

The Churchill Cup is an alliance between the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Rugby Canada and USA Rugby. The tournament was launched in 2003 and aims to develop and grow the sport of rugby union across Canada and the USA. It is named after former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who shared close ties with the United States – his mother was American – and with Canada during the Second World War. With support from the International Rugby Board the tournament has grown in success since the inaugural event in Vancouver in 2003.

Since its introduction, both men’s and women’s teams from England, USA and Canada have participated although since 2005 it has been a men only event. Invitational sides from Argentina, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Uruguay have all participated, while there was also a women’s competition in 2003 and 2004.