New Zealand to play Tonga in Rugby World Cup warm-up

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Defending champion New Zealand will conclude its preparation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup with a one-off test against Tonga in Hamilton on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Tonga will leave for the World Cup in Japan the following day and New Zealand a day later as it attempts to win its third consecutive World Cup.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew announced the match on Sunday, saying "we invited Tonga to play this fixture which we saw as an important part of the All Blacks' preparation but also a great way for Tonga to prepare for Rugby World Cup 2019. We envisage this will be an opportunity for fans to provide a colourful send-off for both teams."

The All Blacks concluded their 2018 schedule Saturday with a 66-3 win over Italy in Rome which left them with a 12-2 record for the season. The Tonga match gives them six tests in a limited program in 2019 ahead of the World Cup.

New Zealand meets South Africa in its opening World Cup pool match.

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