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All Blacks could tour Japan before European tour

Richie McCaw could play Japan's Brave Blossoms in Japan later this year

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Article Published: Thursday 30 May 2013

Rugby World Cup winners New Zealand could play their first tour match against Japan in 26 years on their way to Europe later this year.

According to Reports in the Sankei Sports daily, the All Blacks will take on the Brave Blossoms national side in Tokyo on November 2 ahead of their matches against France, England and Ireland later in the month.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said a game in Japan was under discussion.

"New Zealand Rugby and All Blacks management have been considering the value of another Test this year as part of a much wider strategy focusing on the team's development heading towards 2015" and the World Cup, he said in a statement.

"As a result we have been exploring an option with the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) for the All Blacks selected for the European tour to play Japan en route to Europe.

"There is nothing to confirm at this stage and discussions are continuing."

The JRFU in Tokyo were similarly tight-lipped, saying they had "no information" on the subject.

A game with the world-dominating All Blacks would be a huge boost to Japanese rugby, which is trying to raise its profile and quality before hosting the 2019 World Cup.

The Sankei said the November match, if realised, would be the fifth meeting between the teams and the first since the 2011 World Cup. The two teams' only game in Japan was in 1987.

Japan have lost all four previous encounters, including a 17-145 drubbing in the 1995 World Cup.

New Zealand, who had 12 wins, one draw and one defeat in test matches last year, won the 2011 World Cup at home to keep their number one ranking.

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