SAPPORO – England head coach Eddie Jones visited Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto on Tuesday and also toured Sapporo Dome, where his team will kick off its 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign.
The venue, which hosts NPB’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters — on an artificial surface — and the J. League’s Consadole Sapporo — on a grass pitch, will be the stage for England’s game against Tonga on Sept. 22, 2019.
“Subarashii,” Jones, who coached Japan at the last Rugby World Cup said, using the Japanese word for excellent. “It’s high technology. The way they have created the stadium is a real tribute to the people that built it and we are really excited to play a game here.
“The only thing we will have to get used to is the lights on the roof. But I am sure we will have at least one practice run here.
“The purpose of the visit is to review the facilities up here and to make the best choice for the team, and the facilities we have seen so far have been excellent.”
The dome’s grass pitch is stored outside when not in use and is moved into the stadium using the same technology used for hovercraft.
While Japan can be hot and humid during the summer, Sapporo will be much more suitable for the England players.
“It’s going to be perfect conditions for rugby in September,” he said. “We are looking forward to playing up here in front of 40,000 people. It’s going to be a great occasion for Sapporo and a great occasion for England rugby so we are very excited about it and very pleased to be playing here.”
“The climate up here is going to be very similar to England so we won’t have to do too much adaption. I think we are well equipped to handle the conditions.”
He added: “We have a tough game against Tonga. We know the surface is going to be perfect. We know the conditions are going to be perfect. So it is all set for a very good game of rugby.”
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