Best Rugby Competitions in the America’s

Rugby is growing massively in both North and South America at the moment. So here is your guide to the best rugby competitions in both continents, as well as the best ways to follow and watch the tournaments across the world.

Rugby World Cup

The biggest rugby competition not only in the America’s but also in the world is the Rugby World Cup. The tournament takes place every four years and usually at least one of the best rugby countries from the America’s is involved in the tournament.

In 2023, there are three countries from the America’s competing, all three of them coming from South America. Argentina are by far the most successful team in Rugby World Cup history, having achieved third place in 2007. In 2023 they are joined by Uruguay and Chile in the tournament.

The more exciting part about the Rugby World Cup for the America’s is that in 2031, the USA will be the host of the tournament. The USA ended up being the only country to bid to host the tournament and so in 2031, the Rugby World Cup will be taking place in the America’s.

It is a huge moment for rugby in the America’s, with 24 different cities being shortlisted as potential hosts of games at the competition. With all of the NFL, MLB and MLS stadiums that the USA has, it will not be difficult to host a tournament the size of the Rugby World Cup in eight years time.

Major League Rugby

In terms of domestic rugby in the America’s, it does not get much bigger than Major League Rugby. All major sports in the USA have some form of franchise model and this is how Major League Rugby was formed in 2017, with the competitions first ever season taking place in 2018.

The competition is made up of 12 teams, with that number rising to 13 in 2024. The tournament is a round robin league format where each team play’s sixteen games. The league is split into a Western and Eastern Conference. At the end of the season the top three teams from each conference advance to the playoffs.

The teams in second and third play against each other, with the first placed team waiting in the Conference finals. The two team’s who win each Conference advance to the Championship Final, with the winner of that game crowned the winner of Major League Rugby for that season.

The league has grown massively over the last few years, with more than 10,000 fans attending the 2023 final at Seat Geek Stadium. The league as a whole is continuing to change, including the addition of the Miami Sharks in 2024 and the Atlanta based franchise moving to Los Angeles for 2024.

There are a few different things which make the league really exciting. One of those is that the league has been able to recruit superstar talent despite still being very new. Ma’a Nonu is the headline name, with the former two-time Rugby World Cup winner playing for the San Diego Legion since 2020.

In the past, player’s like Chris Robshaw, Matt Giteau and Mathieu Bastareaud have all played in the league. The New England Free Jacks are the reigning champions, having beaten the Ma’a Nonu led San Diego Legion 25-24 in the 2023 Championship Final.

The league is broadcast on Fox Sports and VIX in the USA, while it is also available through TSN in Canada. If you are an international fan and you want to watch MLR, then the Rugby Network is the place to watch the competition.

The exciting thing about following Major League Rugby at the moment is that the league is growing. With the Rugby World Cup taking place in the USA in eight years, there is a huge amount of growth which we could see from the competition before that tournament. It is certainly an exciting time to be an MLR fan.

Super Rugby America’s

With Rugby still being very popular in South America, World Rugby planned to set up a tournament that featured domestic teams from some of the biggest countries in the Americas.

This is where Super Rugby America’s was set up. The name shows World Rugby’s intent to parallel with Super Rugby Pacific. Super Rugby America’s is franchise tournament made up of seven teams from six different countries in the Americas.

The league began in 2020 and so there have been a lot of issues with the first couple of seasons of the league. In the competitions inaugural season, there were only five teams, which has since improved over the last few years.

The competition spans four months and see’s a double round robin format over 14 weeks, with each team getting two weeks off per season. In the same fashion as other major rugby competitions, each team get’s four points for a win, two for a draw and zero for a loss. There is also a try bonus point and a losing bonus point in each game.

At the end of the regular season, the top four teams go through to the semi-finals. The two winner’s of the semi-finals then advance to the Super Rugby America’s Final. The winner of that game is crowned champions, so the team that finishes first in the regular season does not guarantee themselves as the winner of Super Rugby Americas for that season.

Penarol are the dominant team in the league at the moment. In 2023, they finished top of the table at the end of the regular season and went on to beat Argentinian side Dogos in the final.

Super Rugby America’s is a league which has a huge amount of growth to go. It is backed by World Rugby which should mean that the league continues to grow as the sport grows in the America’s. It is going to be a tournament which will grow over the next few years and it is certainly a competition to watch.

Rugby World Cup Qualifying

Most of the international team’s in the America’s do not automatically guarantee themselves a place at the Rugby World Cup. Which means that Rugby World Cup qualifying is usually quite exciting for all of the team’s involved.

For the 2023 tournament, there were seven team’s from the America’s battling to qualify for the two spots for the 2023 tournament. The format for qualification is quite complicated, but what we do know is that Argentina are not involved in qualification because they usually secure a Top 12 finish at the Rugby World Cup.

Three of the South American team’s advance to the South American Championship, with the top team automatically heading to the America’s 1 decider. The winner of the USA vs Canada series heads to the America’s 1 decider, with the winner of that game qualifying for the Rugby World Cup.

The runner up of the South American Championship plays the loser of the USA vs Canada series. The loser of that play’s against the loser of the America’s 1 decider. The winner of that game is the second team from the America’s to qualify for the Rugby World Cup.

For the 2023 tournament, we saw a massive upset at the America’s 2 qualifier. With Uruguay already confirmed to be heading to the tournament, it was between Chile and the USA for the second place at the tournament. The USA won the first game by a single point in Chile.

In the replay, Chile won the game by two points to win the qualifier on aggregate by just a single point. USA were heavy favourites for the tie and it enable Chile to head to the Rugby World Cup for the first time in their history.

Rugby World Cup qualifying is always extremely exciting. It shows off some brilliant players and means so much to the team’s involved.

The Rugby Championship

Argentina are by far the biggest rugby team in the America’s and because of that they are involved in the Rugby Championship. It is an international rugby competition that features New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina. The tournament takes place every season, usually taking place in July and August.

In non-Rugby World Cup years, the competition is a double round robin format. This means that each team’s plays everyone at home and away. Whereas in Rugby World Cup years, it is a single round robin format, with a draw determining who is at home and who is away from home.

The competition is a league format, using the same points system as all other major rugby competitions around the world. It is four points for a win, two for a draw and zero for a loss. There is also a try bonus and losing bonus point available.

At the end of the tournament, the team who finishes top is named champion. New Zealand are by far the most successful team in the tournament. Argentina have struggled in the Rugby Championship, only having eight game wins since 2012. They have been improved recently, but still struggle to compete with the top teams consistently.

You can watch the Rugby Championship on ESPN as well as on TV Publica in Argentina.

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