The Japan Rugby Football Union confirmed Monday that the Brave Blossoms will not be in action in 2020, citing a lack of preparation needed to take on Tier 1 nations and continued uncertainty regarding international travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will be no international matches this year,” JRFU Chairman Kensuke Iwabuchi said at an online press conference.
“Following the team’s great achievement at last year’s World Cup (when they reached the quarterfinals) we wanted to play Tier 1 nations. But we struggled to find a way to realize the matches and prepare and train the squad to the level required.”
Having seen the pandemic force the Top League to be stopped in February and the cancellation of the summer tests against Wales and England, Japan were initially set to play Scotland and Ireland in the autumn.
When the entire series of autumn tests were called off, the Brave Blossoms were, despite their lack of competitive rugby this year, asked to join a one-off tournament featuring the Six Nations — England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales — and Fiji.
Japan Rugby Football Union Chairman Kensuke Iwabuchi (Kyodo)
However, with the team unable to train together — in part because government regulations prevented some of coach Jamie