A third World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup title served notice that Japan were on the verge of achieving something special at Rugby World Cup 2019, while for Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, USA and Canada the tournament served as an important step in their respective preparations for the game’s flagship event.
We take a look back at some of the tournament’s defining moments.
WORLD RUGBY PACIFIC NATIONS CUP 2019
WHEN: 27 July-10 August, 2019
WHERE: Suva, Lautoka (Fiji), Apia (Samoa), Glendale (USA), Kamaishi, Higashiosaka (Japan)
FINAL STANDINGS: 1. Japan 2. Fiji 3. USA 4. Samoa 5. Tonga 6. Canada
LEADING POINTS-SCORER: Yu Tamura (Japan), 39
LEADING TRY-SCORERS: Kenki Fukuoka and Kotaro Matsushima (Japan), 3
NEW CHAMPIONS: After four years of Fijian dominance, the Pacific Nations Cup ended up in the hands of Japan for the third time in history. A 34-21 win over the defending champions – Fiji’s first defeat in the competition since 2015 – in the tournament’s opening match was followed by victories against Tonga (41-7) and USA (34-20).
RECORD BREAKER: Vereniki Goneva became Fiji’s record try-scorer when he touched down for his 21st test try shortly after half-time in the match against Samoa at ANZ Stadium in Suva. It proved to be the decisive score as Fiji held on to beat their Pacific Island neighbours 10-3 despite ceding territory and possession throughout a physical 80 minutes.
SUPER MAC: USA fly-half AJ MacGinty scored all of his side’s points, including a nerve-jangling late penalty, in a 13-10 win against Samoa in round two. MacGinty had kicked 15 points against Canada in their opener and proved to be the hero yet again as the Eagles secured only their second victory against Samoa.
TOURNAMENT READY: As well as preparing the teams for Rugby World Cup 2019, the Pacific Nations Cup served as a dress rehearsal for two of the global tournament’s venues. The Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium successfully hosted its first-ever international match when Japan took on Fiji with the Brave Blossoms’ next fixture against Tonga staged at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium.