The British & Irish Lions will play Japan for the first time in a one-off Test match at Murrayfield that will precede the team flying out to the South Africa to face the Springboks.
As reported by TRP in May, The home of Scottish rugby will host the match on Saturday June 26 prior to the squad journeying to Cape Town for the first of five clashes against provincial sides and then playing the world champions in a three-Test series.
It will be only the third occasion that the Lions have played on home soil of one of its four unions, after they played Argentina in Cardiff prior to the calamitous tour of New Zealand in 2005 and a Rest of the World side in 1986.
“One of our objectives is to give Warren (Gatland) and the playing squad as much meaningful preparation as possible before departing on Tour, so we are delighted to have agreed this fixture,” said Ben Calveley, managing director of the British and 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 Vodafone 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.”
The Lions and Japan will play for the Vodafone 1888 Cup at Murrayfield on the day that the Premiership will host its 2020-21 final.
No players from any Premiership club who are named in the Lions squad will be eligible to play in Edinburgh by Premiership Rugby, as the match falls outside of World Rugby test windows.
World Rugby could compel Premiership Rugby to relax their policy through its Regulation 9, which concerns availability of players.
Or, as is the case with the RFU, the Lions could pay Premiership Rugby compensation to release players for selection.
Lions head coach, Warren Gatland, believes 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists Japan 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 match day squad to put their hands up for Test selection.”
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