Sport | Māori All Blacks

‘We have to play in the hottest spot in Japan’ - Eddie Jones on rematch

Japanese rugby head coach Eddie Jones is eager for another clash with the Māori All Blacks as early as next year.

“But we have to play in the hottest spot in Japan,” he said playfully at a post-match press conference.

This comes on the heels of Japan’s historic 26-14 victory over the Māori All Blacks in the 36-degree Celsius game at Toyota Stadium in Tokyo.

“This victory marks a significant milestone for Japanese rugby,” Jones said. “We have never beaten the Māori All Blacks before.”

For Māori All-Black players like Kurt Ecklund and Taha Kemara, the cultural experience was profound. “I picked up a few sayings and learned some karakia for fishing,” Ecklund shared.

Kemara, reflecting on their tour, said, “Before this, I felt a bit ashamed for not being immersed in te ao Māori. This experience was an eye-opener, and I aim to be a leader for the Māori kids coming through.”

Despite the intense heat at Toyota Stadium, both teams gave their all. “We had one player with full-body cramps after three hours of training,” Jones revealed.

Kurt Ecklund commented on the challenging conditions: “The ball was slippery, and it was hard to catch our breath but there are no excuses. We all played under the same conditions.”

This historic victory and the cultural exchanges between the players have set the stage for a promising future for Japanese rugby, with fans eagerly anticipating the next encounter between these two spirited teams.