Cross-Border Rugby 2024 – JRLO & Super Rugby NZ Teams Confirmed
The JRLO has confirmed the details of a Cross-Border Rugby 2024 competition which will take place in February in Japan and features; Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay, Tokyo Suntory Goliath, Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights, Yokohama Canon Eagles, and New Zealand’s Gallagher Chiefs and Blues.
Updated 24th January 2024
Japan Rugby League One Chairman Motoichi Tamatsuka said of the competition “We are very happy that it has been decided to hold THE CROSS-BORDER RUGBY 2024. This is a memorable first step toward future exchanges and competitions with club rugby teams around the world.
It is sure to be a tournament that rugby fans around the world will be paying close attention to. We see this as an opportunity to widely announce the existence and value of Japan Rugby League One to the world, and we are preparing to make it a great tournament with an eye to expanding the tournament in the future.”
The four selected Japanese teams were the sides that finished top four in the 2022-2023 NTT League One, while both New Zealand teams compete in the Super Rugby Pacific. The matches will be held on February 3rd, 4th, and 10th 2023 when there are no matches in the League One 2023-24 Division 1.
- February 3rd 2024 – 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 2024 – Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights vs Gallagher Chiefs @Kumagaya Rugby Stadium 2:30 PM
- February 10th 2024 – Yokohama Canon Eagles vs Blues @Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium, Yokohama, 12.10 PM
- February 10th 2024 – Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay vs Gallagher Chiefs @Prince Chichibu Stadium, Tokyo, 2.30 PM
More details such as the ticket information, and broadcast schedules for the Cross-Border matches are online.
The announcement of the new competition comes on the eve of the NTT Japan Rugby League One 2023-24 Pre-Opening Media Conference which takes place on Friday 24th November 2023.
JRFU & New Zealand Rugby Partnership
This cross-border 2024 competition comes off the back of an MoU being signed between the Japan Rugby Football Union and the New Zealand Rugby Union in May 2023 to build cooperation and develop the game of rugby throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
As part of this, preseason matches in Japan are expected to become regular fixtures for New Zealand Super Rugby teams.
New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Mark Robinson also added his thoughts: “I think it’s great that the Gallagher Chiefs and Blues will be able to play a match in Japan. This was one of the objectives of the MOU we signed with the JRFU at the beginning of this year, so I’m glad we can make it happen. Our goal is to enable more teams to play in Japan more often, and we look forward to seeing Super Rugby Pacific and Japan Rugby League One grow together”
Blues chief executive Andrew Hore also said, “We’ve seen the evolution of Japanese rugby in recent times and it’s a market we see significant value in as it grows in popularity and we start to redefine our own competition.”
There has been much speculation of the JRLO and Super Rugby sides forming some sort of new league, as the latter’s popularity has dipped over recent seasons, while the league in Japan continues to attract high-calibre international players and is seen as having greater commercial potential.
How To Watch Cross-Border Rugby 2024
- 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 –
Rugby Club World Cup 2028
A Japanese and NZ club competition could also be seen as more building blocks towards a Rugby Club World Cup which has now been delayed until at least 2028, according to European Professional Club Rugby chairman Dominic McKay.
In November 2023 he said: “We’re looking at doing something in 2028 or 2032 if possible. We’re working towards that and we’re having great conversations with our colleagues in the Southern Hemisphere.”