ABs heading to Japan?

 May 30,2013
Written by: Editor

New Zealand could play Japan later this year on their way to a European tour, according to reports, in what would be their first trip to the country in 26 years.

The All Blacks are set to take on the Brave Blossoms in Tokyo on November 2, the Sankei Sports daily reported, in the run-up to matches against France, England and Ireland later in the month.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said a game in Japan was under discussion.

"New Zealand Rugby and All Blacks management have been considering the value of another Test this year as part of a much wider strategy focusing on the team's development heading towards 2015 and the World Cup," he revealed in a statement.

"As a result we have been exploring an option with the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) for the All Blacks selected for the European tour to play Japan en route to Europe.

"There is nothing to confirm at this stage and discussions are continuing."

The JRFU in Tokyo were similarly tight-lipped, saying they had "no information" on the subject.

A game with the world-dominating All Blacks would be a huge boost to Japanese rugby, which is trying to raise its profile and quality before hosting the 2019 World Cup.

The Sankei said the November match, if realised, would be the fifth meeting between the teams and the first since the 2011 World Cup. The two teams' only game in Japan was in 1987.

Japan have lost all four previous encounters, including a 17-145 drubbing in the 1995 World Cup.

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