The Cross-Border Rugby 2024 – Round 2 Preview
The second and final round of The Cross Border Rugby 2024 sees the Chiefs looking to respond against Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay, while the Blues bid to complete their visit to Japan unbeaten by defeating Yokohama Canon Eagles on Saturday 10th February.
The Cross Border Rugby – Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay vs Gallagher Chiefs – Saturday 10 February 2024
Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium, Yokohama, 12.10 PM
Only Liam Williams was selected of the three players we spoke to this week for the Cross Border match against the Chiefs, with Foley and Coles both helping the team prepare.
The New Zealand-based Chiefs will want to leave Japan on a happier note than their 38-14 loss to Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights last weekend and All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown returns to captain the Chiefs teaming up in the midfield with international colleague Quinn Tupaea.
Lienert-Brown will be in his 11th season with the Chiefs and is also joined by one cap All Black Josh Ioane on his debut in The Cross Border Rugby.
In total, Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan has made nine changes to the starting XV that lost at Saitama, with three All Blacks featuring in the run-on side.
Kubota Spears coach Frans Ludeke doesn’t have the services of Wallaby flyhalf Bernard Foley or All Black hooker Dane Coles, but Wales fullback Liam Williams gets his first look at a side from Super Rugby. South Africans’ hooker Schalk Erasmus, second rowers JD Schickering and Ruan Botha, and centre Rikus Pretorius all feature for the Japanese side.
Liam Williams has only appeared twice in Japan but the 89-test cap fullback was a try-scorer in the second of those matches and the 32-year-old is excited to play Super Rugby opposition for the first time.
Former Western Province and Bulls hooker Erasmus is an uncapped 25-year-old who will also make his debut against New Zealand opposition in Super Rugby.
The Cross Border Rugby – Yokohama Canon Eagles vs Auckland Blues – Saturday 10 February 2024
Prince Chichibu Stadium, Tokyo, 2.30 PM
In Tokyo, the Blues are targeting consecutive victories when they face a Canon side which is missing the injured Springbok pair, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and centre Jesse Kriel.
Blues boss Vern Cotter has also made nine changes to the side that beat Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath. All Black winger Caleb Clarke is the most notable addition.
The Japanese team still features fullback Jumpei Ogara and utility forward Sione Halasili from the Brave Blossoms’ Rugby World Cup squad along with Wallaby-tournament representative, second rower Matthew Phillip.
Yu Tamura at flyhalf was seen as one of the stars of Japan’s home run to the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals in 2019, and the experienced 35-year-old has also proved a deadly accurate goal-kicker this season. Outside of him lurking on the wing, Fijian age-grade player Burua Inoke scored 14 tries last year from 17 outings and this season has five tries from six appearances.
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
International fans from beyond these territories should be able to watch the matches live on NZR+, the New Zealand Union’s digital channel.
- 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