Whilst all eyes will be firmly locked on the two Rugby Championship matches that will take place on Saturday night, earlier in the day the Pacific Nations Cup will provide amply entertainment for any rugby fans.
Of particular interest will be the match between Japan and Fiji, played in Kamaishi.
Fiji are flying high after an excellent 2018 that saw them knock over France in France for the first time ever. Two weekends ago they also tipped over the Maori All Blacks for the first time in over half a century.
The Flying Fijians could be on the cusp of causing even more pain to the French, as a win this weekend by more than 15 points would see them jump ahead of Les Bleus on the World Ruby rankings into 8th place.
Japan have not quite kicked on as some would have hoped since earning their world-stopping win over South Africa at the last World Cup. Still, just last year the Brave Blossoms managed to tip over Italy and came close a second time too. They also recorded a 35-15 loss to England at Twickenham, which is not a poor result for a Tier 2 team at all.
A win for Japan could also see them rise to their highest every ranking of 9th – but that would be dependant on Argentina also getting trounced by Australia.
Given that Fiji and Japan used to do battle every year, it’s a bit of a surprise that these two sides haven’t faced off since 2016, when Fiji triumphed 38-25. 2011 was the last time that Japan actually managed to topple Fiji – so don’t be surprised if a big win does come Fiji’s way, given that they’ve had considerably better build up too.
The other major outcome of the weekend (though somewhat less likely), could be Wales topping the rankings for the first time. Only three teams have ever been at the plateau, England, South Africa and New Zealand. If South Africa manage to best the All Blacks by more than 15 points then Wales would find themselves with the #1 ranking.
New Zealand’s biggest-ever defeat at home is just 15 points, so the Springboks would have to at least equal that record if they want to help Wales to top spot.
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