The Barclays Churchill Cup, the annual international rugby tournament which represents an alliance between the Rugby Football Union, Rugby Canada and USA Rugby, will be staged for the first time in England next summer.
The tournament, now in its fifth year, has previously been staged in Canada and USA, and will return to North America in 2008 and 2009 as part of a longer term strategy announced today.
The decision for the RFU to host the tournament in May and June 2007 is largely due to the location of the Rugby World Cup in September and Terry Burwell, Tournament Director of the Barclays Churchill Cup, explained: "The tournament has been growing in popularity and success since its introduction in Vancouver in 2003, with six international teams now involved.
"The Rugby World Cup in France in September 2007 gives us a great opportunity to host the tournament for the first time in England, with the main aim to help prepare players for the Rugby World Cup, and reduce the amount of travelling teams have to do in the months leading up to September.
"With the exception of the New Zealand Maori, the majority of the squads from five of the six participating teams (England Saxons, Scotland A, Ireland A, Canada and USA) are playing in the UK and it makes sense from a player welfare point of view for the tournament to be held in England for this one off year.
"The tournament will return to North America in the summers of 2008 and 2009, and we can confirm that the finals in 2008 will be hosted by USA Rugby. We are delighted to be in a position to confirm the longer term strategy for the tournament which allows long term planning and earlier announcement of venues and dates."
The venues for the 2007 Barclays Churchill Cup will be announced shortly but Burwell is confident they will please rugby fans around the country, saying: "The Barclays Churchill Cup has become a fantastic international tournament with the involvement of six attractive teams. Last season's competition proved it can often be unpredictable and the English rugby fans are in for a treat with nine international matches staged up and down the country."
The tournament will be staged from the weekend of May 19, with the three finals held on Saturday June 2. All matches will be broadcast by Sky Sports and made available to North American markets through ESPN and other partners.