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Australia lays groundwork for test match with Japan

by Rich Freeman

Kyodo

A test match between Japan and Australia is on the cards following the establishment this week of the Australian Rugby Foundation Japan Chapter.

At the official launch of the chapter at the Australian Embassy on Tuesday night, former Wallaby and Australian Rugby Union board member Brett Robinson said, “The ARU will look to commence discussions with their JRFU (Japan Rugby Football Union) counterparts about a potential Qantas Wallabies test match in Japan in 2018.”

Robinson attended the event along with two other former Wallabies, Phil Waugh and Pat McCabe, and he explained a little about the foundation.

“The foundation was established this year with the goal of driving greater investment in rugby from grassroots level to the elite level and engaging with Australian supporters of rugby around the globe,” adding that further chapters are planned for New York, London and Dubai.

With Japan set to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the first time the tournament will be held in Asia, the nation was a natural selection for the ARF.

“Japan is one of Australia’s largest trading partners and the economic and political links we share are well understood — sport is a natural extension of this strong relationship,” said Robinson.

“Rugby is a growing passion for the Japanese people and the partnership between ARU and JRFU will only continue to grow.”

Suntory Sungoliath head coach Andy Friend will be among those serving on the local chapter.

“It’s another recognition that Japan is one of the main areas that rugby can prosper in Asia,” the former Brumbies head coach told Kyodo News.

“It has the biggest infrastructure, is the No. 1 team in Asia and it makes perfect sense given it will soon have a Super Rugby side and will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.”

Australian Ambassador to Japan Bruce Miller welcomed the new chapter, saying: “We are excited about Rugby World Cup 2019, one of the world’s largest sporting events, and we look forward to enticing the Wallabies to play a test in Japan in the lead-up.”

A number of high-profile Wallabies including Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Nick Cummins and Ben McCalman have recently signed dual contracts that allow them to play in the Top League and Super Rugby, and it is expected more will follow in the coming years.

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