Japan’s preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup became a lot clearer Tuesday with the announcement that the Brave Blossoms will play in a revamped Pacific Nations Cup in July and August.
Jamie Joseph’s side will play two home games — against Fiji in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, on July 27 and Tonga at Osaka’s Hanazono Rugby Stadium on Aug. 3 — before finishing its campaign in Fiji when it plays the United States on Aug. 10.
“It is with great pleasure that two Pacific Nations Cup 2019 matches will be held in Japan, just two months before Rugby World Cup 2019 commences,” Japan Rugby Football Union chairman Noriyuki Sakamoto said.
“We look forward to welcoming Fiji and Tonga to the match venues of Rugby World Cup 2019, Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Iwate and the Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka, respectively.”
The selection of Kamaishi and Hanazono, which will host Fiji and Tonga, respectively, during the Rugby World Cup, will also allow the two venues to run a full dress rehearsal before the World Cup starts on Sept. 20.
“With all roads leading to Rugby World Cup 2019, it is exciting to announce that six participating unions — Canada, Fiji, hosts Japan, Samoa, Tonga and U.S.A. — will feature in the World Rugby Pacific Cup 2019 lineup,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.
“This announcement reflects our commitment to provide a strong preparation platform for these unions immediately prior to our showcase event, to build excitement in two host cities and deliver an important program of testing and readiness ahead of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.”
In addition, it was announced Tuesday that Junior Japan will take part in the Pacific Challenge — which will take place in Suva, Fiji, on March 8, 12 and 16, 2019 — alongside Fiji Warriors, Tonga A and Samoa A.