All Blacks to play Wallabies in Yokohama in October

Kyodo

Japanese rugby fans will get a double dose of world champion New Zealand later this year following the announcement Wednesday that the All Blacks will play Australia in Yokohama on Oct. 27.

The game at Nissan Stadium comes a week before Steve Hansen’s team takes on the Brave Blossoms at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium and marks the second time a Bledisloe Cup game has been held in Japan, with the trans-Tasman rivals having played at Tokyo’s National Stadium in 2009.

Ticketing details and kick-off time for the Yokohama game, as well as the All Blacks vs. Japan test, will be announced at a later date by the Japan Rugby Football Union.

“It gives us great pleasure to host the Bledisloe Cup, a long-established and classic rugby match, for the second time in this country, in the year before the Rugby World Cup 2019, at the same venue as the tournament’s final,” JRFU president Tadashi Okamura said.

“We certainly look forward to two of the world rugby’s leading teams moving their stage into Japan and showcasing another fierce, great battle. At the same time, it’s our great hope that this match will build momentum towards Rugby World Cup 2019.”

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the huge support the All Blacks have in Japan was one reason NZR has given up a home test to allow the game to be played in Yokohama.

“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 . . . (and) will be important for the team as we build support ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019,” he said.

New Zealand, winner of the World Cup in 1987, 2011 and 2015, plays its opening match of the 2019 tournament against South Africa in Yokohama and takes on an African qualifier in Tokyo.

“It will be great for the team to prepare in two of the Rugby World Cup cities and play at the same venues,” said Hansen, who is currently in Japan visiting some of the tournament venues.

The Wallabies, winners of the World Cup in 1991 and 1999, have not won the Bledisloe Cup, which is generally played over three games, since 2002. They are making a quick return to Yokohama, having beaten Japan 63-30 at the same venue in November 2017.

“We are looking forward to returning to Japan in October for what will be an incredible event, with one of the greatest rivalries in our game being fought out a year before the same venue hosts the Rugby World Cup Final,” said Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle.

“The Bledisloe Cup clash at Yokohama offers a great opportunity for the Wallabies to play a major test on Japanese soil in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup and will build the excitement in the host nation ahead of the showpiece event next September.”

The first Bledisloe Cup test will be played in Sydney on Aug. 18, with the return match a week later at Auckland’s Eden Park.