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Chiefs, Blues to play Japanese clubs

NEWS: The Waikato Chiefs and Auckland Blues will travel to Japan in February for games against top local teams in preparation for the Super Rugby Pacific season, officials said Friday.

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The Blues will play Suntory Sungoliath in Tokyo on February 3 and the Chiefs take on the Wild Knights the next day in Saitama.

The following weekend the Kubota Spears Funabashi, who recently signed All Blacks hooker Dane Coles, host the Chiefs with Yokohama Canon Eagles tackling the Blues.

“Get ready for world-class rugby,” said Genichi Tamatsuka, chairman of Japan’s Rugby League One competition.

“This marks the realisation of our plan to host matches between top-level club teams and League One teams.”

In May rugby chiefs in Japan and New Zealand signed a wide-ranging deal to see their national teams play each other more.

The agreement included plans for New Zealand’s franchise teams to play Japanese sides outside the Super Rugby season.

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The new Super Rugby campaign kicks off on February 23 when the Chiefs host defending champions the Canterbury Crusaders.

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