DUBLIN, Ireland, April 26 – World rugby union's governing body, the IRB, has relocated all but one of the Pacific Nations Cup 2011 matches from Japan to Fiji following last month's earthquake and tsunami that hit the north-east coast of Japan.
The decision was taken jointly with the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) after a detailed review of the logistical, administrative and operational requirements for hosting four international teams and six Test matches, the IRB said Tuesday.
The IRB added that the decision would now enable the JRFU to "fully focus on its core business and Rugby World Cup 2011 preparations as Japan starts the extensive rebuilding process".
The tournament will retain the same dates with the opening round taking place on July 2, the second round on July 9 and the final round of matches on July 13. The match between Japan and Samoa on July 2 will remain in Tokyo with the five remaining matches relocated to Lautoka and Suva.
"This has been a hard decision for everyone involved, given that the Japan Rugby Football Union has shown great enthusiasm for hosting the IRB Pacific Nations Cup this year, but all stakeholders agreed that it is in the best interests of the Union, the nation and the tournament," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said.
JRFU chairman Tatsuzo Yabe added: "The relocation of matches was a difficult decision to take for the Japan Rugby Football Union and the IRB.
"It was a great disappointment, given our commitment to delivering an outstanding tournament, but it was the logical decision.
"However, we are pleased that we will be playing Samoa in Tokyo as scheduled and will use the match as a sign of support for the Japan Rugby community, while showing our ability to deliver a superb Test match."