USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville posted on his blog comments that he thinks the USA is close to joining a new Pacific Nations Cup men's international competition starting in 2013.
Melville was in talks with Japan, Canada, Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji to revisit the format of the old Epson Cup, which ran from 1999-2001 (before that, there was the Pacific Rim, 1996-1998 which has Japan, Canada, USA and Hong Kong).
The talks have been going on for over a year and Melville said the framework has now been agreed to (at least preliminarily) to develop an intense six-team competition during the June test window.
"Discussions between the Tier 2′s and Tier 1′s resulted in a limited (but very welcome) inbound Tier 1 schedule for Canada and the USA each June and games against Tier 1′s for the Islands during November in Europe. The impact being that we will host Italy (2012 buy your tickets now), Ireland (2013) and Scotland (2014) in June. Of course, that’s great but we need more fixtures and friendlies don’t cut it with our fans, we want meaningful games."
So the plan appears to be six teams playing 33 games, meaning all six teams play each other once, with the top four going into a semifinal-final format.
That would mean you needed to squeeze five weeks of matches, and a weekend of semis and finals, into about four weeks. To do that, you'd need to play every four days through most of June. That's enormously demanding, but it's possible.
Added Melville in his post:
"Next steps, the schedule is being double checked, the logistics folk are putting together a plan and the financial team working out the costs. We have developed a commercial program for Title Sponsors and Broadcasters, and the final step will be approval from the IRB Council/Executive."