Cross-Border Rugby 2024 – A New Chapter For Japan and New Zealand Rugby
The Cross-Border Rugby 2024 competition is due to kick off in February and is set to mark a new era of Japanese and New Zealand rugby relations at the club level.
These were the sentiments of Japan Rugby League One chairman Genichi Tamatsuka, who added: “Hosting two New Zealand Super Rugby clubs is a major step forward for the relations between New Zealand and Japan, at both national and club level. All those who were involved in the discussions that created the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) are to be congratulated for what they achieved,”
The MoU was signed between the Japan Rugby Football Union and New Zealand Rugby in 2023.
Mr Tamatsuka expanded, saying, “This is the start of a special relationship, something that I hope will move forward and develop into an important part of the club calendar in both Japan and New Zealand.”
Japan Rugby League One chief operating officer Hajime Shoji, who was one of the administrators whose work helped facilitate The Cross-Border Rugby, also said “It is inevitable that people remember Japan for the Sunwolves’ involvement in Super Rugby but while that was historic, and a great opening for Japan, The Cross-Border Rugby is completely different.
The Sunwolves were a combination of players from different clubs; these matches provide Japan’s premier clubs with the chance to play: their own colours, their own brands, their own teams, their own fans.”
Less than two weeks to go until the Cross-Border Rugby 2024 🔥
The League One v Super Rugby ultimate showdown!
📆 3, 4 & 10 February
— JAPAN RUGBY LEAGUE ONE (@LeagueOne_EN) January 21, 2024
Cross-Border Rugby 2024 Schedule
The new competition forces a break in the JRLO season and on February 3, 2024, will see Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath meet the (Auckland) Blues at Prince Chichibu Rugby Stadium in Tokyo, while Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights host the Gallagher (Waikato) Chiefs the following day at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.
The two NZ Super Rugby sides will then play Yokohama Canon Eagles and Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay on February 10 2024.
The Chiefs made the final of Super Rugby in 2023, while the Blues bowed out in the semifinals, both falling to the Crusaders, who were unavailable for The Cross-Border Rugby 2024.
New Zealand sides will combine these matches with training camps to prepare for the start of DHL Super Rugby Pacific, which begins on February 23 2024.
The Japan Rugby League One chairman said that the tournament allows for the top teams from each country who have been rewarded for their performance last season. Mr Tamatsuka expects the matches to be competitive even though the Japanese sides are well into their campaigns while the New Zealand sides are still in pre-season.
“I have never seen a player who does not want to win every time they play, and I’ve no doubt that The Cross-Border Rugby will be fully competitive with each of the teams going for the win;” Mr Tamatsuka said. “Many of the New Zealand players will never have experienced either playing in Japan, or playing against Japanese opposition, so these matches are a great experience for them.”
These matches are also a great opportunity for the home sides. “For our own players, it is the chance to test themselves against New Zealand’s best in a game they will never forget. If they are good enough to win, they will create a piece of history for their club that will rank alongside its’ finest achievements,” added the chairman.
Mr Shoji said of the Japanese sides – “The Canon Eagles have built up a strong following since they moved to Yokohama and the Wild Knights have had a great run of success in recent years, are well coached and have top players. We are hoping that a lot of fans will come along to both stadiums to enjoy the historic occasion.”
The Wild Knights, have only lost once in five years at home and have a man experienced with NZ Super Rugby in the form of five-time Super Rugby-winning coach Robbie Deans. The former JRLO champions are unbeaten in the JRLO Division 1 this season, with Sungoliath third, the Eagles fourth, and the Spears (defending champions) in 7th.
The Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay themselves have a former Super Rugby-winning coach in Frans Ludeke, who won with the Bulls in 2009 and 2010.
How To Watch Cross-Border Rugby 2024
JRLO announced that the Cross-Border matches will be broadcast in Japan live on J SPORTS On Demand, while TV Kanagawa will broadcast one game.
- For fans in the Pacific Islands – Digicel
- Fans in New Zealand – Sky Sport
The latest news is that international fans from beyond these territories will be able to watch the matches live on NZR+, the New Zealand Union’s digital channel.
- February 3rd 2023 – Tokyo Suntory Goliath vs Blues @Prince Chichibu Rugby Stadium (The first match will be held concurrently with the 10th National Women’s Rugby Football Championship Final) 12 PM
- February 4th 2023 – Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights vs Gallagher Chiefs @Kumagaya Rugby Stadium 2:30 PM
- February 10th 2023 – Yokohama Canon Eagles vs Blues @Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium, Yokohama, 12.10 PM
- February 10th 2023 – Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay vs Gallagher Chiefs @Prince Chichibu Stadium, Tokyo, 2.30 PM
More details on the ticket information and broadcast schedule can be found on the Cross-Border website.
2024 International Rugby – Japan And NZ
In 2024, both the Maori All Blacks and the All Blacks are set to play matches against Japanese sides:
- Japan XV vs The Maori All Blacks – June 29 2024
- Japan XV vs The Maori All Blacks – July 6 2024
- Brave Blossoms vs All Blacks – October 26 2024
Japan Rugby News 2024
- Cross-Border Rugby 2024 – JRLO & Super Rugby NZ Teams Confirmed.
- World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024.
- New Pacific Nations Cup Gets Underway In 2024 – Japan Hosts The Finals.
- Dubai – World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024 Results