Warren Gatland's side will face the Brave Blossoms before their tour to South Africa next year

British & Irish Lions to play Japan

The British & Irish Lions will play Japan at BT Murrayfield next year before they depart for their tour of South Africa.

This is the first time the Lions have faced Japan and the match will take place on Saturday 26 June, with the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup on offer for the winners.

With the 2020-21 Gallagher Premiership final also due to take place that day, Lions head coach Warren Gatland will likely be without his full squad for the Test but it does provide an opportunity for players to get game time ahead of the eight-match tour to South Africa.

Related: Schedule for 2021 Lions tour to South Africa

Japan impressed at last year’s World Cup, where they reached the quarter-finals for the first time and Gatland is expecting a fast-paced Test next summer.

“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.”

Japan coach Jamie Joseph has described the fixture as “a truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players”.

This will be only the third Test match that the Lions have played on home soil, after the fixtures against a Rest of the World XV in 1986 and Argentina in 2005.

Tickets will go on pre-sale on Tuesday 3 November, but supporters are able to register their interest at lionsrugby.com/Vodafone-1888-Cup from today.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley said: “One of our objectives is to give Warren and the playing squad as much meaningful preparation as possible before departing on tour, so we are delighted to have agreed this fixture.

“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.”

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