Asia Rugby Champions Japan will play World Cup champions New Zealand at the Chicabu Stadium in Tokyo on November 2 before heading to Europe for matches against Scotland, Russia and Spain.
Japan, who won their sixth straight HSBC Asian 5 Nations title in May, have represented Asia in every Rugby World Cup since its inception in 1987 and will host the 2019 edition.
Former Australia boss Eddie Jones succeeded All Blacks legend John Kirwan as Japan coach last year and in November the ‘Brave Blossoms’ recorded a first-ever victory over Wales. In June this year, Japan beat newcomers USA and Canada in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup following earlier losses to Fiji and Tonga.
Japan will be among the tier-two nations playing a record total of 20 Test matches in November as the build-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England continues.
Bernard Lapasset, Chairman of the IRB (International Rugby Board), said: “I am anticipating a truly captivating November series of matches. This is an exciting time for rugby worldwide and thanks to the ongoing commercial success of the Rugby World Cup, the IRB has been able to invest record sums in the game.
“The November 2012 and June 2013 programmes really showcased the tremendous competitive strides tier-two unions are making, with Samoa defeating Wales, Scotland and Italy, Tonga defeating Scotland and Japan recording a first-ever victory over Wales.”
The November schedule for tier-two national teams released by the IRB includes the first-ever Test between Brazil and Portugal, while Samoa and Tonga will visit Georgia and Romania respectively for the first time.
The programme is financed and supported by the IRB, which announced that it invests more than US$16 million each year in high-performance programmes and competitions for tier-two countries, including the expansion of the Pacific Nations Cup to include USA and Canada.
The success of the Rugby World Cup as a major global brand has enabled the IRB to finance and deliver more matches for tier-two nations in the important June and November windows.
“The November fixtures are playing a massive role in the development of unions who have been identified by the IRB as part of a major Strategic Investment Programme,” said Mark Egan, IRB Head of Competitions and Performance.
“These IRB World Ranking matches will enable coaches to assess players in a competitive environment, while giving the IRB the opportunity to benchmark the progress of the top ranked tier-two unions against both each other and, in some cases, against tier-one opposition.”
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