Rugby: All Blacks to play Japan

The All Blacks will play Japan in Tokyo on Saturday 2 November, New Zealand Rugby and the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) have confirmed today. Photo / Getty Images.
The All Blacks will play Japan in Tokyo on Saturday 2 November, New Zealand Rugby and the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) have confirmed today. Photo / Getty Images.

The All Blacks will play Japan in Tokyo on Saturday 2 November, New Zealand Rugby and the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) have confirmed today.

The Test will be played at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium in Tokyo, Japan's national rugby stadium and home of the JRFU.

The All Blacks will fly to Japan to prepare for the Test match before heading onto Europe for the All Blacks annual Air New Zealand European Tour, for Test matches against France, England and Ireland.

The All Blacks have played Japan four times before: twice in Japan in 1987 (the matches weren't given Test match status) and at the 1995 and 2011 Rugby World Cups.

JRFU Chairman Tatsuzo Yabe said: "It is a great pleasure to welcome the All Blacks back to Japan for a match against our national side for the first time in 26 years.

"New Zealand and Japan have long had a strong rugby relationship, ever since the Japan national team first played against New Zealand Universities 77 years ago and we have learnt a lot from New Zealand Rugby.

"This time, again, playing against the reigning Rugby World Cup Champions will be an exciting opportunity for Japan, led by Eddie Jones, as they build themselves for Rugby World Cup 2015.

"At the same time, hosting a historical match against the world-famous All Blacks in the heart of our capital will definitely build momentum for Rugby in Japan as we work towards Rugby World Cup 2019 which will be held in Japan."

Japan Head Coach Eddie Jones said: "It is a great honour for Japan to play against the All Blacks, the current Rugby World Champions and the number one ranked team in the world.

"The history of matches between the All Blacks and Japan hasn't been in our favour, but we have changed history once by beating Wales this year and we want to change history again when we play against the All Blacks.

"Every player who gets the chance to play against the All Blacks must be preparing to win against them. It's not only a physical challenge, but also mentally we need to play a game that really makes the All Blacks think."

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "We are delighted to be playing Japan in what will be a historic Test in Tokyo.

"The match fits in perfectly with our strategy for 2013 to not only grow our game but also to grow our leadership and depth within the All Blacks squad, and will give us the chance to give younger players further opportunities in the black jersey."

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said the All Blacks had a growing fan base in Japan and Asia and it was hoped the match would build on that. The All Blacks last visited Japan for the Bledisloe Cup match against Australia in 2009.

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