Japan to host Maori All Blacks series


Japan will host New Zealand’s Maori All Blacks in a two-match November series, the Japan Rugby Football Union announced Monday.

“It gives us great pleasure to welcome the Maori All Blacks to Japan for the first time, following last autumn’s tour by the All Blacks, the world champions,” Japan Rugby Football Union Chairman Tatsuzo Yabe told the JRFU website. “It is a privilege to be able to invite and have two matches with another leading rugby team from New Zealand again this year.”

The first match will be held on Nov. 1 at Kobe’s Noevir Stadium, with the finale to be held at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo on Nov. 8 as Japan builds up toward the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The Brave Blossoms will kick off that campaign on Sept. 19 against South Africa and then play Scotland, Samoa and the United States.

“The Japan national team has recently risen to 10th in the IRB world rankings for the first time in its history,” Yabe said. “However, to make the knock-out stage at Rugby World Cup 2015, they have more work to do. Therefore, taking on a strong opponent such as the Maori All Blacks is tremendously important for the development of our team, whose target is the top eight in the Rugby World Cup.”