The Japan Rugby Football Union confirmed Wednesday that the Brave Blossoms will play Tonga on November 18th at Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse, France. The union also confirmed the game the following week against France will now be played at the U Arena in Nanterre, on the outskirts of Paris.
What a cracking pair of matches coming up!
Japan have played Tonga 16 times, with the Tongans winning 9 matches. Their most recent match was in Burnaby, Canada, in the Pacific Nations Cup on Aug. 3 2015, a game Tonga won 31-20. I think this time it could be a lot closer and I expect the Brave Blossoms to possibly even sneak a win in France.
Joseph’s squad will gather in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, on October 22nd to prepare for the matches and to meet their new defense coach, John Plumtree. He takes over the role from Ben Herring on a temporary basis, and while he has said he would be interested in being involved at RWC 2019, he also said his main priority was Super Rugby’s Hurricanes with whom he is an assistant coach.
It looks like November will be an exciting time for the Brave Blossoms and their journey onto the Rugby World Cup 2019. Teams like Tonga will certainly challenge Japan, so expect a series of crashing tackles up front, with both sides looking to run it from anywhere. France vs Japan however will be a different affair and I sincerely hope the match does not become too much one sided. When playing France, you are never too sure which team could turn up, from the fantastic French flair we love to see to introspective, fault finding and frustrating teamwork…you guess is as good as mine. If Japan play to potential and pride, and France don’t turn up for a match, then it could be closer than many people think.