Historic game set to take place between Japan and England

Adam Kyriacou
England scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet against Japan

History will be made on June 22 next year when England and Japan face off in an international on Japanese soil, it has been announced.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) confirmed the news in what will be an historic occasion for the two rugby nations.

Thursday’s announcement marks exactly one year until the match between the sides.

First Test between sides in Japan

While England toured Japan in 1971 and 1979, those games did not hold Test status. The two nations have since faced off in a further three international fixtures (1987, 2018 and 2022), but this will be the first ever Test match between the pair hosted by Japan.

The fixture is the result of a strengthening relationship between the two unions, after England played the Brave Blossoms at Twickenham Stadium during last year’s Autumn Nations Series and previously in 2018.

Discussions for a venue and kick-off time ahead of next year’s fixture are ongoing, with broadcast agreements also to be announced in due course.

RFU chief executive, Bill Sweeney, said: “We are delighted to announce England will play its first ever Test match against the Brave Blossoms in Japan. This is a landmark occasion for our two rugby nations.

“After hosting Japan twice at Twickenham Stadium in recent years, we’re eager to continue building our strong relationship with the JRFU. We have a lot of respect for Japanese rugby, and I know there will be mutual excitement between fans from both countries for this fixture.”

Executive director of performance rugby, Conor O’Shea, said: “This Test match will be something for Steve [Borthwick]’s playing group to really build towards and an historic event. An occasion like this is one of those special matches players remember fondly during, and long after their careers.

“Rugby in Japan continues to grow enormously and so too do their on-pitch performances, so a tough test awaits the England team.”

Have great respect for England

JRFU president, Masato Tsuchida, said: “We are delighted to welcome England to Japan next year for this historic Test match and to have the opportunity to test ourselves against one of the world’s best teams.

“The JRFU and Japanese rugby fans have great respect for English rugby and recognise England as the birthplace of our great sport.

“We fondly remember England’s performances at the World Cup in 2019, especially their incredible semi-final victory in Yokohama.

“English fans made a fantastic contribution to the atmosphere of the tournament, making up the largest contingent of visiting international fans.

“They left a wonderfully positive impression on the Japanese public, and we look forward to welcoming the team and English fans back to Japan and renewing the great rugby connection between our two nations.”

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