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Brave Blossoms to face Tonga in Toulouse

Kyodo

The Japan Rugby Football Union confirmed Wednesday that the Brave Blossoms will play Tonga on Nov. 18 at Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse, France.

The union also confirmed the game the following week against France will now be played at the U Arena in Nanterre, on the outskirts of Paris.

The Nov. 25 test against Les Bleus was originally slated for Lille, but the Stade Pierre-Mauroy is hosting tennis’ Davis Cup final that weekend, forcing the change.

Japan has played Tonga — which is coached by Wallabies legend Toutai Kefu, who spent many years playing and coaching in Japan with Kubota Spears — 16 times with the Brave Blossoms winning seven and the ‘Ikale Tahi nine.

Their most recent match was in Burnaby, Canada, in the Pacific Nations Cup on Aug. 3 2015, a game Tonga won 31-20.

Japan begins its autumn campaign with a non-capped game against a World XV in Fukuoka on Oct. 28.

The invitation side will be coached by Panasonic Wild Knights boss Robbie Deans and will include Japanese star Ayumu Goromaru and South Africans Adriaan Strauss, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Ruan Combrinck.

The Brave Blossoms then play Australia on Nov. 4 at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium — the first time the venue for the 2019 Rugby World Cup final will host a rugby test match — before heading to Europe.

Joseph’s squad will gather in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Oct. 22 to prepare for the matches and to meet its new defense coach.

John Plumtree will take over the role from Ben Herring on a temporary basis, and while he has said he would be interested in being involved at RWC 2019, he also said his main priority was Super Rugby’s Hurricanes with whom he is an assistant coach.

“I see my coaching future as being firmly with the Hurricanes but I jumped at the chance when Japan approached me about the prospect of coaching at international level,” the 52 year-old New Zealander said earlier in the week.

“It’s a great opportunity to be exposed to a new culture and new ways of coaching.

“Japan has a strong coaching team with Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown, and working alongside them will only add to the knowledge and experience I can add to the Hurricanes going forward.”