New Zealand and Japan strengthen rugby relationship
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to deepen the relationship between the two national unions and grow the game across the Asia Pacific region.
The MoU will see the two unions explore strategic and commercial opportunities including more regular matches between the All Blacks, All Blacks XV and Māori All Blacks and Japan Rugby’s Brave Blossoms and Japan XV.
The All Blacks, Māori All Blacks and All Blacks XV will play the Brave Blossoms and Japan XV on a regular basis in Japan, from 2024 to 2027.
There will also be a commitment to explore opportunities for New Zealand-based Super Rugby teams to play Japan League One outside of core DHL Super Rugby Pacific competition windows, and for the Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens to play the Japan Sevens outside of existing tournaments.
In the women’s rugby space, opportunities will be discussed around the inclusion of some of Japan’s top women’s players to play in the Sky Super Rugby Aupiki and Bunnings Warehouse Farah Palmer Cup competitions.
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said:
“It is great to formalise our relationship with Japan Rugby, we have a long-standing and strong history of collaboration and mutual respect on and off the field, as well as a shared love for rugby and the values our game.
“The MoU provides us with opportunities for our Teams in Black, commercial partners, and other professional teams and competitions to work more closely together. The intention is for teams across the spectrum to play more regular matches, while also looking at how our men’s and women’s competitions could work together in the longer term.”
JRFU CEO, Kensuke Iwabuchi said:
“Japan Rugby acknowledges the heritage of New Zealand Rugby and the shared respect for the integrity of our respective teams and competitions. We have a shared love of rugby and the values that the game stands for on and off the field, including teamwork, hard work, honesty and integrity.
“In working more closely together, NZR and JRFU acknowledge the importance of maintaining and respecting the heritage, competitiveness and commercial operations of existing rugby competitions played in Japan and New Zealand or involving teams from Japan and New Zealand.”
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