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All Blacks, Australia to clash in Japan before World Cup

Japanese fans will get two tastes of the famous Haka when the All Blacks take on Australia in Yokohama and local side Brave Blossoms in Tokyo © AFP/File / FRANCK FIFE

TOKYO, Japan, Jan 31 – World champions New Zealand will play fierce rivals Australia later this year in Japan, both sides announced Wednesday, as the Japanese seek to build support ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The third Bledisloe Cup match between the two Southern Hemisphere superpowers will take place on October 27 at the 72,000-seater International Stadium in Yokohama near Tokyo, where the Rugby World Cup final will be staged on November 2, 2019.

It will be the second clash between the pair in Japan after the All Blacks beat Australia 32-19 in Tokyo in 2009.

The head of the Japanese Rugby Union, Tadashi Okamura, said: “It’s our great hope that this match will build momentum towards Rugby World Cup 2019.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who is in Japan touring facilities, said this match — and a fixture the following week against the Brave Blossoms in Tokyo — would give his side valuable experience before the World Cup.

“It will… give the team a chance to have a really good ‘dummy run’ of the facilities and experience the unique Japanese culture,” said Hansen in a statement.

The first Bledisloe Cup Test will be played in Sydney on August 18, with the return match a week later at Eden Park in Auckland.

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