New Zealand and Australia will play the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Japan this year, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) have confirmed via Allblacks.com
The match will take place at the 72,000 capacity Nissan Stadium on October 27. The venue, an important Rugby World Cup 2019 stadium, is also home to Japanese J1 football team the Yokohama F. Marinos.
It will be the second time that the antipodean rivals have locked horns on Japanese soil in the Bledisloe Cup following a 2009 clash between the pair at Tokyo’s national stadium in 2009, in which the All Blacks won 32-19.
Speaking about the match, NZR CEO Steve Tew was thrilled to be taking the match to Japan:
“We’re delighted to confirm that a Bledisloe Cup test match will be played in Japan for the second time in the history of this great rivalry.
“The last match in 2009 was a fantastic event but this year’s test at the 72,000-seat stadium in Yokohama will be at another level.
“The All Blacks have huge support in Japan so the Bledisloe Cup Test will be important for the team as we build support ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.”
Their time in Japan will also see the reigning world champions take on the Brave Blossoms the following week (November 3) at the 49,000-seat Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo, in a huge test for the world’s eleventh best team. Both stadiums are key RWC 2019 stadia as Japan gears up to host the first ever Rugby World Cup in Asia.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, currently in Japan on a planning visit before next year’s World Cup, said that the games in Japan would help the team prepare for next year’s tournament in which they will be looking to win a third successive World Cup:
“It will be great for the team to prepare in two of the Rugby World Cup cities and play at the same venues.
“As well as preparing for a huge Bledisloe Cup Test and another important test against Japan, it’ll also give the team a chance to have a really good ‘dummy run’ of the facilities, and experience the unique Japanese culture.”
The Wallabies will be looking to lift the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 15 years with the opening match of the 2018 Rugby Championship in Sydney on August 18.
Michael Cheika’s men will then travel to Auckland’s iconic Eden Park Stadium for the second instalment on August 25.