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Melbourne and Japan join newly expanded IRB Pacific Rugby Cup Schedule

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The Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby development team will become the latest Australian side to join a newly expanded IRB Pacific Rugby Cup this year. The 2013 tournament schedule, which was announced by the IRB earlier this week, will also see newcomers, Junior Japan thrown into the mix to play against Australian and New Zealand development sides.

The annual Pacific Rugby Cup sees four development teams from Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, and now Japan each play three matches in Australia before travelling to New Zealand to play a further three matches.

Each of the four teams play against Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby development teams and academies in the respective host countries.

The 2013 tournament will take place in Australia from Friday March 1 with three games to be held in Sydney, three in Canberra, four in Brisbane and one, for the first time, in Melbourne.

The Rebels Super Rugby Development team will star in the tournament for the first time in 2013 with a game against the Fiji Warriors at Harlequins Rugby Club in Melbourne on Tuesday 12th March.

The Junior Waratahs kick off first on the opening day of the tournament against the Fiji Warriors at Allianz Stadium in Sydney as the curtain raiser for the NSW Waratahs v Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby match. The Brumby Runners also kick off on day 1 at Viking Park in Canberra against Samoa A. Reds College XV join the tournament the next day against Tonga A in Brisbane.

The Brisbane Academy and Sydney Academy teams’ campaigns commence on Thursday 7th March, while the Western Force are set to play their game on Tuesday 12th March.

The Australian leg of the tournament concludes on Saturday 23rd March at Griffith Oval in Canberra when the Sydney Academy team take on tournament newcomers, Junior Japan.

The four international development sides then head across the ditch to take on the Kiwi Development sides for the second leg of the tournament, which takes place in locations across New Zealand from 18th March.

The tournament, which sits one level below the Pacific Nations Cup, is a key Rugby development pathway for participating nations, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and now Japan.

Funded by the IRB, the Pacific Rugby Cup helps to expose developing players in each of the four countries to higher levels of competition each year.

The 2013 Pacific Rugby Champions will be determined by points accumulated across the tournaments in Australia and New Zealand, and the final round played prior to the northern hemisphere Test window.