The Māori All Blacks will play two matches against the Japan XV as part of the Lipovitan D Challenge Cup 2024.
The two matches will be played on Saturday, 29 June and Saturday, 6 July next year and will mark just the fourth time the Māori All Blacks have played in Japan and first since 2014.
Facing an All Blacks XV over the past weekend, the two countries have continued to strengthen their relationship following the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the JRFU and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) in May.
Next year’s clash will be the third year in a row where a New Zealand representative side travels to Japan.
Remember this moment from 2018? The Maori All Blacks set down the challenge with intense Haka. USA have fantastic response. pic.twitter.com/K0itvFNyGN
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) December 30, 2018
Speaking following the announcement, New Zealand Māori Rugby Board Chair Dame Farah Palmer said: “It is great news to have these two international fixtures confirmed and it will be a special occasion for the Māori All Blacks to visit Japan again and to share our respective cultures and traditions next year. It’s exciting for Māori rugby to have two big international matches on the calendar following the thrilling home series against Ireland in 2022.”
Echoing Farah’s sentiments, NZR CEO Mark Robinson confirmed that New Zealand were looking forward to strengthening their relationships in Asia.
“It is great to announce the Māori All Blacks will be playing two matches in Japan next year, they are a team of huge importance to New Zealand Rugby. We look forward to continuing to grow and strengthen rugby in the Asia-Pacific region, while also sharing our culture and history through these two matches.” Robinson concluded.
Confirming their positivity around the further strengthening of the relationship between the two rugby nations, Japan Rugby Football Union Chairman, Kensuke Iwabuchi said:
“Following our recent announcement that the Brave Blossoms will host the All Blacks next Autumn, and with the All Blacks XV currently in Japan, we are delighted to now announce next year’s tour by the Māori All Blacks. Playing such powerful teams consistently is a major component of our strategy to grow the competitiveness of our national teams. We extend our deep thanks to our partners at New Zealand Rugby for their commitment to support the growth of Japanese rugby.”