Update: 1:51PM THE International Rugby Board has announced the cancellation of the Pacific Leg of the 2013 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup due to take place in October to enable Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to maximise preparations for an unprecedented November Test program.
With an expanded competition calendar now in place aimed at boosting performance at test level and Pacific Island Unions continuing to thrive in the test arena, the Unions and the IRB have determined that IRB funding and support would be best invested in high performance, logistical and administrative support around the November 2013 test match program.
In November Fiji will play Portugal, Italy and Romania. Samoa will take on Ireland, the French Barbarians and Georgia, while Tonga face Romania, France and Wales as preparations continue for Rugby World Cup 2015.
The IRB and the participating Unions remain committed to the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup concept and discussions are advanced with all stakeholders regarding the delivery of a competition format that meets the needs of the respective Union high performance programmes and provides a springboard into the Test windows.
IRB Regional General Manager William Glenwright said: "This decision has been taken in the best interests of the Unions following a detailed high performance review and recognises their desire, and ours, to concentrate on ensuring that preparations for the delivery of the test program are optimised.
"The 2013 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup has already achieved its strategic purpose of providing that competitive environment against Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby franchise opposition in the first two legs. We collectively believe that IRB funding would be better directed at optimising preparations for the November Tour, which is often a financial challenge to our Unions.
"These are exciting times for Pacific Island Rugby with Samoa and Tonga enjoying strong performances in the Test arena and the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup will continue to play a pivotal role in the high performance process for these Unions."
Fiji Warriors, the leading team at the conclusion of the Australian and New Zealand legs of the 2013 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, have been declared 2013 champions. The Warriors finished the Australian and New Zealand legs earlier this year on 14 competition points ahead of Samoa A (10 points), Japan A (3 points) and Tonga A (0 points). It is the fifth consecutive year the Fiji Warriors have won the PRC. Apart from that, the Flying Fijians also won the Pacific Nations Cup by defeating Tonga, Japan, Canada and USA.