Japan gets first crack at 2021 B&I Lions
NEWS: The British and Irish Lions will host a ‘Test’ match against Japan at Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June 2021 for the Lions 1888 Cup.
The first-ever clash between the world’s greatest touring side and the Brave Blossoms will raise the curtain for the Lions’ eagerly awaited Tour to South Africa, which culminates in a three-Test series against World Cup champions, the Springboks.
“One of our objectives is to give Warren and the playing squad as much meaningful preparation as possible before departing on Tour, so we are delighted to have agreed on this fixture,” said Ben Calveley, Managing Director of The British & Irish Lions.
“A Lions Test is one of the most iconic events in world sport, but a huge number of fans from the Home Nations never get the chance to see one live.
“The Lions 1888 Cup match will give even more supporters the opportunity to be part of the next chapter in Lions history.
“It will be an ‘I was there’ moment, against an entertaining and highly-respected opposition.”
A view shared by Shigetaka Mori, President of the Japan Rugby Football Union, who anticipates the fixture will attract a global audience.
“It is a great honour for us to be able to play a Test match against the British & Irish Lions,” commented Mori.
“I hope that many rugby fans from around the world will witness the historic match between the Lions and Japan and enjoy the brand of rugby to be showcased by each side.”
Meanwhile, Lions Head Coach, Warren Gatland, believes the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarterfinalists will provide a stern test for his squad before they depart for South Africa.
“We saw Japan play some excellent rugby during the World Cup and they will come to Edinburgh fully-motivated to win,” said Gatland.
“They are a talented side who play high-tempo rugby, so it’ll be a good challenge for us ahead of the Tour, and a chance for the matchday squad to put their hands up for Test selection.”
Japan Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, is also relishing the prospect of the fixture: “We are very much looking forward to playing a Test against the Lions next year,” added Joseph.
“It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players, and we can’t wait for it to come.”
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Scottish Rugby’s 67,000-seater stadium in Edinburgh will host only the third Lions Test match on ‘home’ soil, following games in Cardiff against Argentina in 2005 and against a Rest of the World XV in 1986. Mark Dodson, Chief Executive of Scottish Rugby and Lions Board Director, believes the iconic ground will provide an ideal backdrop for the Test.
“We are very proud to be welcoming the Lions and Japan to the home of Scottish Rugby next June,” said Dodson.
“Murrayfield Stadium has a long history of hosting major sporting events and is renowned among rugby fans as one of the iconic stadiums in the world game.
“The deep connection Scotland enjoys with the British & Irish Lions has helped to shape the rich history of the team with players, coaches and support staff all contributing to the success of the side down the years.
“Scottish Rugby and the whole rugby community in Scotland will extend a warm welcome to the Lions and Japan and we look forward to hosting fans for this unique ‘home game’ at what will no doubt be an enthralling match.”
The Lions’ eight-game tour to South Africa kicks off on Saturday 3 July 2021 when they play the Stormers in Cape Town.
Three weeks later Soccer City in Soweto will host the first Test – a venue which previously hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.
The second Test follows on Saturday, July 31 at the Cape Town Stadium – the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997 – before the British and Irish tourists return to Gauteng for the final Test on Saturday, August 7 at Ellis Park, the storied venue of the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final.
The Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four-Test series, lost eight with one drawn. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.