All Blacks go big in Japan
Fri, 12 Jul 2013 07:09
We have changed history once by beating Wales this year
The world-champion All Blacks will play Japan in Tokyo in November ahead of their European tour.
The New Zealand Rugby Union said the match would take place at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium on November 2.
"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," New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said.
The match, in the run-up to New Zealand's European tour in November featuring matches against France, England and Ireland, will be the All Blacks first Test against the Brave Blossoms on Japanese soil.
The teams have previously met twice, at the 1995 and 2011 World Cups, with Japan losing both encounters, including a 145-17 drubbing in the 1995 tournament.
A New Zealand XV trounced Japan at home twice in 1987, but neither game was given Test match status.
The All Blacks last visited Japan in 2009 for a Bledisloe Cup match against Australia, which they won 32-19.
Asian powerhouse Japan have appeared at every World Cup and will host the tournament in 2019, something that NZRU chief executive Steve Tew noted was part of their reasoning to play the 'Brave Blossoms'.
"We are excited at the prospect of the All Blacks returning to Japan ... and we hope this Test match will provide a further boost for rugby in Japan ahead of World Cup 2019," Tew said in a statement.
The Japanese beat both the United States and Canada in this year's Pacific Nations Cup and recorded their first win against Wales last month, beating them 23-8, though the Six Nations champions had 15 of their leading players on duty with the British and Irish Lions in Australia.
"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," Japan coach Eddie Jones said.
"Every player who gets the chance to play against the All Blacks must be preparing to win against them," the former Wallabies coach added.
"It's not only a physical challenge, but also mentally we need to play a game that really makes the All Blacks think."
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 World Cup Champions will be an exciting opportunity for Japan, led by Eddie Jones, as they build themselves for 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 World Cup 2019 which will be held in Japan."
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