Japan Rugby League One, which started on January 8, 2022, has reached its fourth round this week. Let’s take a look at the standings of Division One until the third round.
Looking at the picture above, the first place for the Sungokiath is in order, but the NEC Green Rockets in 5th place and the Toyota Verblitz in 6th place are in the top group, even though they have not won a single match. This is due to the fact that they have non-conference wins due to the new Corona. NEC Green Rockets, in particular, had lost all of their games in last year’s Top League, so they were at the bottom of the pre-war rankings. At the moment, they have an unexpected tailwind. The bottom three teams will face a replacement game, so can they really stay in Division 1? This is very interesting.
I was scheduled to watch the match between Shining Arcs Tokatsu and NEC Green Rockets at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium last week, but the match was cancelled due to the outbreak of a new corona infection in Shining Arcs. I was very sorry. It’s a shame.
And now, let’s get back on track.
Brave Lupus Tokyo vs Toyota Verblitz
at the Komazawa Athletic Stadium in Tokyo.
The temperature was a cool 8 degrees Celsius, but it wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be since there was almost no wind and my seat was in the sun for the whole game. Today’s game was a home game for the Brave Lupus, so there were related decorations near the entrance gate.
The photo above is the entrance gate.
Decoration of WTB Naikabura (Japan national team candidate) of the Brave Blue Pass.
A balloon of Lupus-kun, the mascot of the Brave Lupus.
And I entered the stadium. My seat for today was in the South Stand, row S1, number 97. Oh, I was able to sit in the first row again. It’s a great seat for taking pictures.
Before the game starts, let me introduce the two teams.
＊＊ Brave Lupus Tokyo ＊＊
Founded in 1948. The team has won the Top League championship five times in the past. A strong team with four candidates for the Japanese national team and many experienced national team players. The team’s traditional style of play is to push forward with power, centering on their powerful FW.
＊＊ Toyota Verbritz ＊＊
The team was established in 1941. Although they have not won any championships in the Top League in recent years, they have won five championships in the National Corporate League before that. They have the ability to make it to the top every year. This team also has a strong lineup with five candidates for the Japanese national team, two candidates for the South African national team, and many others with national team experience. The team’s style of play is similar to that of the Brave Lupus, but they have a strong FW team in front of them. The highlight of the season is the new addition of South African flanker Dutoit. He is 200cm tall and the best player in the world for 2019.
So, let the match begin.
Both teams are full of energy from the start, as their team color is rugby of power. In particular, the power of the Brave Lupus to come forward is amazing. Will they be able to hold it till the end with such a rush?
The first goal was scored in the 10th minute of the first half. The Brave Lupus attacked into the enemy territory and formed a maul in front of the opponent’s goal. Gradually, they pushed forward, and finally, SH Ogawa passed two players from the side of the maul and scored the first try in the middle right corner. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 7-0 in favor of the Brave Lupus.
The game remained deadlocked for the rest of the game, but there were some great plays during the stalemate.
15 minutes into the first half: Verblitz flanker Du Toit chased down Toshiba WTB Hamada, tackled him, knocked him down, and then jackaled him in a series of moves. Normally, this is a two-step process: tackle, reposition, and jackal. Furthermore, despite being a giant of a man, standing 2 meters tall and weighing 120 kilograms, he was able to tackle at his feet with an extremely low posture. As expected of the world’s best player.
Also 15 minutes into the first half: SH Ogawa of the Brave Lupus kicked the ball 50:22 out of a scrum in his own half. Fifty-Twenty kicks is a new rule. If the ball is kicked from the team’s own area and bounces once in the opposing team’s area then go out from the touch line of the opposing team, the next lineout starts with the kicker’s ball. If this is decided, you will be able to start the lineout with your own ball in front of the opponent’s goal, which will give you a chance to score at once.
20 minutes into the first half: SO Taylor of the Brave Lupus succeeded in a PG. The score is now 10-0 in favor of the Brave Lupus.
28 minutes into the first half: The Verblitz finally responded. WTB Okada cut in from the left side to the center and scored a try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 10-7, with the Velbritz closing the gap to three points.
31 minutes into the first half, Taylor scored a PG to make the score 13-7, giving the Brave Lupus a six-point lead.
33 minutes: After a foul by the opposing team, Verblitz won a lineout deep in the enemy territory and formed a maul. Verblitz’s hooker Kato scored a try in the middle left corner. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 13-14. The score is now 13-14, and the Velbrits have finally turned the tables.
40th minute of the first half: Verblitz scored a PG at the end of the first half to make the score 13-17, and the first half ended with Verblitz taking a 3-point lead.
Today’s game reminds us that rugby is a contact sport. Towards the end of the first half, Verblitz came into their own, and the game became worth watching.
According to the tournament office, the number of spectators today was 2,841. It’s a bit sad for a stadium that can hold up to 20,010 people, but the increase in the number of new corona infections is now reaching its peak, so it’s a good thing that the games were not held without spectators.
Let’s start the second half.
2 minutes into the second half: The Brave Lupus are looking to get back into the game and are attacking hard at the start of the second half. After a series of attacks, the Brave Lupus moved to the right, and CTB Tamanivalu threw a pass to the outside. WTB Naikabura caught the pass and used his individual skills to get past three players to score a try in the center.
The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 20-17, and the Brave Lupus turned the tables and took a three-point lead.
Both sides were determined not to lose, and both sides scored PGs in the middle of the game.
6 and 14 minutes into the second half: Verblitz scores a PG. 20-23, Verblitz again.
17 minutes into the second half: Brave Lupus scored a PG to tie the score at 23-23.
20 minutes into the second half: Verblitz scores another PG to take a three-point lead, 23-26.
23 minutes into the second half: The decisive try of the game. Verblitz’s SH Fukuda picked up a spilled ball in his own half and ran over 80 meters solo. Just before the goal line, he was caught by Tamarivalu, CTB of Brave Lupus, but Tamanivalu was sent off for 10 minutes for an illegal tackle.And seven points were added to the score for what would have been a try for the Verblitz had it not been for the foul. As a result, the score was 23-33, and the Verblitz had a 10-point lead.
After that, the game was deadlocked again, and the Brave Lupus came close to scoring several times, but could not score. The game ended with a final score of 23-33 in favor of the Verblitz.
The Player of the Match for this match was Kenta Fukuda, SH of the Velbrits, who graduated from Meiji University in 2019 and joined the Velbrits, finally being able to play in an official match. The fact that even university stars can’t become regular players right away shows the depth of the Verblitz squad.
Japan Rugby League One is clearly more powerful than last year, with stars from around the world coming together, and I am looking forward to the future matches.
Next week, February 5, at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo
Shining Arcs Tokyo Bay Urayasu vs Saitama Wild Knights
Lastly, at the entrance of the stadium, there was a collection of donations for the Kingdom of Tonga due to the recent eruption of an underwater volcano in Tonga. I was able to contribute a small amount of money. I pray for the earliest possible recovery.
＊＊ Jersey Collection 54 ＊＊
This is a French tricolor jersey. This is not a replica of the rugby team, but as a fan of the French national team, I can’t help but want one when I see a jersey in the tricolor blue. I bought it for 3,980 yen on Yahoo! Auctions.
January 9th, 2022. On this day, the National University Rugby Championship reached its final match. Representative schools from all over the country competed for supremacy, and there were two schools that made it to the final. The two schools that made it to the final are the Teikyo University Rugby Club and the Meiji University Rugby Club.
The venue for the final was the New National Stadium in Tokyo, the same place as the semifinals. It is the most appropriate stadium to compete for Japan’s best in domestic sports.
In contrast to the freezing cold weather of last week, the temperature was over 10 degrees Celsius, making it easy to watch the game. The kick-off time was 13:15. As in the semi-finals, the match was played at the New National Stadium, but the difference from last week was the Social Distance. Until last week, spectators had to sit with one seat open, but this week, there was no social distance. And the audience was already packed and seated.
The new Corona is starting to rage again, and I wonder if it will be okay. I’m a little worried.
Before we get to the games, let me introduce the two teams that have advanced to the finals.
The absolute champion of the past has returned to the final stage. They have won all seven of their matches in the Kanto University Rivalry.
Quarterfinal: vs Doshisha University – 76-24
Semi-final: vs Kyoto Sangyo University – 37-30
In the previous week’s game against Kyoto Sangyo University, they won a close game for the first time this season. Have they been able to use this game as a stepping stone to improve their team strength? Or are they still in a wounded state after last week’s fierce battle? Nobody knows until they actually play the game.
Next, let’s take a look at Meiji University.
The traditional school which has supported Japanese Rugby for long time. Nearly 80% of today’s spectators are also Meiji University fans. The thickness of the player layer is the best in Japan. The star player of the high school rugby is lined up.
The result of this season ended in the third place in the Kanto University Rivalry group. At the end of the season, they were defeated by rival schools Teikyo University and Waseda University in succession.
4th round: vs Tenri University – 27-17
Quarterfinal: vs Waseda University – 20-15
Semifinal: vs Tokai University – 39-24
This season, Meiji University defeated Tenri University, which they were defeated in last year’s University Championship, and then Waseda University, which they were defeated in this season’s rivalry. Will they be able to take revenge against Teikyo University in the final match, betting on the pride of Meiji University that they will not lose to the same opponent in a row?
Let the match begin.
5 minutes into the first half:
Teikyo University secures the ball at a lineout into enemy territory, develops the ball, and CTB Oshikawa cuts in for a try in the middle left side. The conversion goal failed, and Teikyo University took the lead at 5-0. Teikyo University, as usual, came out firing from the start.
12 minutes into the first half:
Teikyo University pushed forward in front of the enemy’s goal, and Meiji University defended well until the fifth attack, when Teikyo pushed to the right and WTB Shirakuni receives the ball on the outside of the goal. The conversion goal failed. The score was 10-0, and Teikyo University took the lead.
23 minutes into the first half:
As expected, Meiji University’s engine started to rev up around this point, and the two teams continued to play evenly. This was where Teikyo University hooker Era shines. Meiji University developed the ball from a lineout in enemy territory, and with a sign play prepared, SH Iinuma ran out and WTB Ishida cut in from the opposite direction. Teikyo University hooker Era made a great reaction and turned over Ishida, the trump card of Meiji University, with a single tackle. It didn’t lead to a score, but it was one of the highlights of the game.
26 minutes into the first half:
Meiji University’s continuous attacks were working around this time, and they started to break through Teikyo’s thick defensive network several times. Meiji’s backs players were able to get past several Teikyo defenders and came close to scoring again. However, each time, Teikyo University finally took the ball away from Meiji team and they missed their chances.
However, if they continue to miss scoring chances, the flow of the game will be taken over by the opponent.
32 min. of the first half:
Teikyo University continued their attack in the enemy territory, developed to the right, No.8 Okui broke through, and in front of the goal, made a perfect pass to WTB Shirakuni, who scored a try in the right side. The conversion goal failed. The score was 15-0, and Teikyo University took the lead.
Still, today Meiji University was unable to get their own ball in the final move of the attack. On the contrary, Teikyo University’s defenders crushed all of Meiji’s decisive chances. From the 35th minute of the second half onwards, such scenes were seen again and again.
Wanting to score a try in the first half, Meiji University won the ball in a lineout and tried to advance with a maul, but could not make much progress. When Meiji’s CTB threw a long pass, Teikyo University’s WTB Shirakuni intercepted it. Then he scored a try in the middle of the right side. The conversion goal failed. This was the fourth failure in a row. However, the score was now 20-0, and Teikyo University had taken a big lead. Meiji University was now in a tight spot.
This was the end of the first half.
In this year’s University Championship, I have seen many teams that have succeeded in recovering from the second half. I would like to see Meiji University make a comeback worthy of the final game.
And now, the second half of the final game began.
8 minutes into the second half:
Meiji University, refreshed at halftime and looking to gain momentum, entered enemy territory and won the ball in a lineout, then proceeded to form a maul. As they moved forward in the maul, hooker Tamori rushed forward alone. He dragged two Teikyo players behind him and scored a try in the middle right side. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score was 20-7.
From here, Meiji University stepped up their offense and cut the gain line several times. They came close to scoring a try if they could get one more player over the line. However, Teikyo University’s hooker Era and No.8 Okui, who are the key players of Teikyo University’s defense, regained the ball at key points and did not allow Meiji University to score more points.
25 minutes into the second half:
Teikyo University broke the stalemate that had lasted for a while. Flanker Tongatama, who came on as a substitute midway through the second half, was an impact player and crossed the gain line several times. When Teikyo University came close to scoring, No.8 Okui broke through five Meiji defenders and scored a try in the left middle. Teikyo University SO Takamoto finally succeeded in the conversion goal, making the score 27-7, giving Teikyo University a 20-point lead.
33 minutes into the second half:
Meiji University’s slogan for this season is “Meiji Pride”. Not to be defeated, Meiji University closed in on Teikyo University’s goal and persisted with a series of FW side attacks. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score was 27-14.
However, this was the final score of the day. Teikyo University won this season’s National University Rugby Championship. It was their 10th victory in total.
This is the end of the season for the university rugby, but after this, the JAPAN RUGBY LEAGUE ONE will start. I would like to go to the stadium and watch the game as much as possible.
＊＊ Jersey Collection 53 ＊＊
Replica model of the France jersey from the 3rd RWC in 1995. I got it on Mercari for 3,980 yen. This jersey is a typical jersey that has a very different valuation between overseas and domestic auctions. Overseas, the price is over 400 euros, but in Japan, the price is at most 4,000 yen (= 40 euros). There is a person selling this jersey at a Japanese auction with a price of 50,000 yen, but after two years, no one is buying it.
Rugby, one of the professional sports in Japan, has started as “Japan Rugby League One” from 2022.
In comparison to the Top League era
In the Top League, 16 teams participate, and in League One, all 12 teams participate.
In the Top League era, each team played 11 matches a year in a league format. The top eight teams then played in a tournament to determine the winner.
In League One, each team plays six games a year in the Home & Away format. The top four teams will then play in a tournament to determine the winner.
There is a plan for the winning team to play an exchange match with the winning club of the league overseas (details to be determined).
Until 2020, the Sunwolves from Japan participated in the Super Rugby of the southern hemisphere in parallel with the Top League, but this team has now disappeared.
The Sunwolves’ participation in Super Rugby, the world’s premier professional league, had the role of strengthening the Japanese national rugby team, but with the disappearance of the Sunwolves, this role has come to be demanded of League One. As a result, we have signed a number of famous overseas players to help raise the level of professional rugby league in Japan.
Each team has many players at the national level, and fans can expect to see high-level matches. In League One, each team will be required to make a community-based sales effort as an independently financed professional team rather than a corporate team as in the past.
On January 7, the opening game of the League One season was scheduled to be played at the National Stadium in Tokyo, between Kubota Spears Funabashi-Tokyo Bay and Saitama Wild Knights. However, the game was cancelled due to the outbreak of a number of new corona cases in the Wild Knights. Therefore, the next day, January 8, became the actual opening day of the League One. I went to watch the game between Tokyo Suntory Sangorias and Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo at the Tokyo Stadium in Chofu City.
The photo above is a publicity poster that was posted at Fuchu Station. Both Sungoliath and Brave Lupus have their training grounds in Fuchu City, so this game is also called the Fuchu Derby. Both teams are popular, so we expect a good game.
The game was scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. Before the game, I stopped by Fuchu Station to make a New Year’s visit. Fuchu City has the historic Okunitama Shrine in front of the station, and there was a good crowd on January 8th.
I went there to pray for good health and safety in my home. Afterwards, I drew a fortune at the shrine. The number that came out of the box was “44,” and I had a bad feeling about it. Because I had gotten a “bad” fortune before, and had gotten very sick that year. When I exchanged this “44” for a fortune, the fortune in the picture below came out.
Oh, as long as it’s not “bad luck,” I’m fine. Thank goodness.
Now, let’s go to Tokyo Stadium. I found something interesting in front of the station. The mayor of Fuchu City is a former member of Rikkyo University’s rugby club, and the city is planning to revitalize itself with rugby as “Rugby City Fuchu. There was a commemorative monument in front of the station.
Then, I took the Keio Line from Fuchu Station to Tobitakyu Station. This was the main venue for the RWC 2019, and I watched many games at the Tokyo Stadium. More than two years later, I was able to watch rugby games at this stadium again. Thanks to the new corona outbreak, the rugby boom in Japan has been put on hold.
In 2019, the RWC flag was flown at the ticket gate of Tobitakyu Station, but now the flag of FC Tokyo, a J1 League soccer team based in this stadium, is hung. FC Tokyo’s flag is now hanging.
This square in front of the station was crowded with foreign supporters during the RWC, but as expected, not so many spectators have come.
Still, it was nostalgic to walk along this street. It took me about seven or eight minutes to get to the stadium.
As I was walking, I noticed that the city of Chofu changed the manhole cover to RWC use to commemorate the RWC.
The Tokyo Stadium came into view. It’s quite crowded. Today’s game is between two teams that both play at Tokyo Stadium, but today is treated as a home game for Sungoliath.
Fortunately, the temperature today was 13 degrees Celsius and there was no wind, making it feel like spring. That’s great for the spectators.
The stadium is usually named Ajinomoto Stadium, but during the RWC, we couldn’t use the corporate name, so we called it Tokyo Stadium.
Here are the opposing teams for this match.
＊＊ Tokyo Suntory Sangorias ＊＊
Runner-up in the Top League last season. They are the candidates for the League One championship this season, with nine current Japanese national team players, two Australian national team players, and one New Zealand national team player. The team has a strong attacking core in both FW and BK, and boasts the No.1 attacking power in the league.
＊＊ Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo ＊＊
Ranked 9th in the Top League last season. A prestigious team that has won the Japan Championship six times. The team has four current Japanese national team players. The team’s color is based on the breakthrough power of its powerful FW players. In this match, the team is looking for the humiliation of losing last year’s match.
Entering Tokyo Stadium for the first time in two years and four months, the excitement of the 2019 RWC still comes back to me. I am happy to be able to watch the match here again.
Before the start of the match, League One was declared open by President Tamazuka. Since yesterday’s opening game was cancelled, the opening declaration was made at this day’s game.
The main attraction for the spectators was the appearance of NZ’s Mackenzie, who is the highlight of the season. At 177cm tall and 78kg, he is small for a rugby player, but he is one of the core players of the All Blacks, so his every move attracted a lot of attention. The number of visitors for the day was announced to be 10,075.
The match kicked off at 15:30.
Suntory Sungoliath, the home team, took the lead in the match. From a ruck in enemy territory, the ball went right through FB McKenzie to WTB Ozaki who scored a try on the left side. McKenzie’s first conversion goal was missed, but the score was 5-0 in favor of Sungoliath.
Eight minutes into the first half, Toshiba Brave Lupus struck back. From a lineout in enemy territory, a series of attacks led by the FW team resulted in a try by 19-year-old rookie LO Deans, who dragged an opponent under the goal posts. Deans is a 2-meter LO, a long-awaited player for the Japanese national team. He is only 19 years old, but I hope that he will continue to grow and become a key player for the national team.
After the try, the Blave Lupus scored a conversion goal to make the score 5-7 in favor of Japan.
In the 15th minute of the first half, the Sungoliath got a PG opportunity, and FB McKenzie scored his first goal in Japan. The score was 8-7, a one-point lead for the Sungoliath. The game was a scrappy affair, with both sides exchanging points.
Here is a quick look at the scoring sequence.
17th minute: Brave Lupas’s new LO Pierce kicked the ball over the goal line for a try. The conversion goal is successful. The score is 8-14.
After this, both teams scored a PG. The score was 11-17.
26th minute: Sungoliath attacked, WTB Ozaki broke away from the right side, and №8 McMahon scored a try. The conversion goal was successful. The score is now 18-17 and Sungoliath has turned the game around.
28min: Sungoliath deploys BK in their own half, but the ball is dropped. Toshiba’s WTB Naikabura picked up the ball and scored a try. The conversion goal was also successful. The score was 18-24, and Toshiba was back on top.
The score was 18-24 in favor of Brave Lupas, and the two teams scored a PG each to take the lead at the end of the first half, 24-27.
In last year’s matchup, Brave Lupas suffered a humiliating defeat by nearly 70 points, so they were fired up for this game.
In the second half, Sungoliath’s No.8, McMahon, played a big role.
He scored consecutive tries in the 4th and 9th minutes to complete his hat-trick for the day. With his efforts, the score was 36-27 and Suntory took a 9-point lead.
Soon after, Brave Lupas’s LO Pierce scored his second try of the day to put Sungoliath on the back foot. However, Sungoliath’s attackers began to show their true colors. Brave Lupas scored a try and Sungoliath scored three more, and by the 29th minute of the second half, the score was 60-34.
After the game was almost decided, Toshiba scored two more tries and the final score was 60-46 in favor of Suntory in the opening game.
By the way, Suntory’s player base is too thick compared to other teams. Here are some of the problems I see.
＊Japan national team candidate CTB Kajimura, who used to be a member of Suntory, moved to Eagles in search of playing opportunities.
＊Japan national team CTB Nakano wants to gain experience as a CTB, but the team is too thick. He has been playing as a WTB for a while. As a WTB, he moves like a WTB of the past, i.e., if he is a left WTB, he rarely moves to the other side. The modern WTB is required to appear in any direction, right or left, when the opportunity arises. Suntory’s CTB is Nakamura, a steadfast CTB for Japan, and another CTB is Australia national ‘s Kerevi, so there is no room for Nakano at the moment.
＊McKenzie, who joined from the NZ national team this season, is hoping to play SO for Japan, and has been a stalwart SO for the Chiefs in Super Rugby until last year. At 178 cm, McKenzie is more suited to the SO position. He throws a great pass that no one else can imitate, and I hope the Sungoliath players will learn that skill. Japanese BK players’ flying passes have a mountainous trajectory, but McKenzie’s passes fly in a straight line, even over long distances.
＊＊ Jersey Collection 52 ＊＊
This is not a replica model, but it is a jersey created in France colors. adidas original product. The basic color is blue with the three lines of the French flag in blue, white and red. This item in the photo was purchased for 3,980 yen at Yahoo Auction. It is a used product. If you buy it new, it will cost you more than 10,000 yen.
As the first rugby game of the year 2022, I went to see the semifinal game of the National University Rugby Championship at the New National Stadium in Tokyo on January 2nd. Today’s game started at 12:25. This is the second time I have been to the New National Stadium. I haven’t had much of a chance to visit this stadium since the Tokyo Olympics was a no-show game.
A brief overview of the new national stadium:.
The National Stadium was built as the main stadium for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and was renovated after the 2020 Olympics were decided. The capacity is 60,000 people. The stadium has been renovated and the spectator seats are covered by a roof, so spectators can watch the games without rain gear, even in the rain, as long as it is not accompanied by wind. The nearest stations are Sendagaya Station and Shinanomachi Station on the JR Line and New National Stadium Station on the subway Oedo Line.
The capacity of the new national stadium is about three times that of the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, so when I got off at Sendagaya Station, a huge number of spectators streamed out of the ticket gates. From here to the stadium, it took about 7-8 minutes of slow walking to reach the entrance gate.
Here are the semi-final matchups for the day.
Game 1: Tokai University (Kanto University Rugby League Group 1st place) vs Meiji University (Kanto University Rugby Rivalry Group 3rd place)
Second match: Teikyo University (Kanto University Rugby Rivalry Group 1st place) vs Kyoto Sangyo University (Kansai University Rugby A Group 1st place)
In the semifinals of this year’s University Rugby Championship, the champions of the Kanto and Kansai leagues have won in order. In sports tournaments, it is said that the most heated games are played in the semifinals, and I hope to see heated games again this year.
Let’s start with the first game.
Here is a brief introduction of each team in the first match.
＊＊ Tokai University Rugby Club ＊＊
The Tokai University Rugby Team is ranked the first in the Kanto University Rugby League Group, and except for a draw against Nihon University, which is ranked second, they have come through without any problems. In the first game of the University Championship, they won in order against Keio University 27-12. They have a strong and stable FW team, and also have a BK team with the ability to develop, led by SO Muto. The school is a regular participant in the top ranks of recent university championships, but it has never won a championship.
＊＊ Meiji University Rugby Club ＊＊
Third place in the Kanto University Rugby rivalry group. In this season’s rivalry, they lost to Teikyo University and Waseda University consecutively at the end of the season, but as they entered the University Championship, they defeated last year’s student champion Tenri University and Waseda University, the second place team in the rivalry group, both in close games, and have gradually improved their team strength. In terms of popularity of domestic rugby, they are the twin peaks along with Waseda University.
Now, let’s kick off the first game. Tokai University took the lead. In the 11th minute of the first half, CTB Maruyama of Tokai University scored a PG in enemy territory to make the score 3-0, and Tokai University led by 3 points.
12 minutes into the first half. From a lineout in the enemy’s territory, Meiji University expanded to the right, and in the first attack, WTB Ishida easily got through and scored a try right under the goal post. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score was 3-7 in favor of Meiji University.
In the first half, Meiji University took control of the game, and in the 25th minute, WTB Ishida scored his second try of the day, and the conversion goal was also successful. In the 35th minute of the first half, Meiji University’s WTB Ishida again made a big gain to close in on the goal line, and No.8 Oishi scored a try. The conversion goal was successful. The first half ended with Meiji University taking a big lead, 21-3.
What happened to Tokai University? Are they still the champions of the Kanto University League? Looking at the games they’ve played so far against Meiji, it seems like they’re a much lower ranked opponent.
I don’t think my heart was in the right place, but Tokai University rallied in the second half.
In the first minute of the second half, Tokai University kicked off and went into enemy territory. CTB Itoh easily scored a try. The conversion goal was also successful, and Tokai University closed the gap to 15 points, 10-25.
Just three minutes later, in the fourth minute of the second half, Tokai University caught the ball kicked by Meiji University and passed it to SO Mutoh, who then launched a counter attack. Muto made a big gain and went deep into the enemy territory, but Meiji University’s defenders stopped Tokai University’s advance, but Tokai University developed to the left, and CTB Maruyama kicked a pass. Tokai University’s WTB Taniguchi caught the pass and scored a try in the left corner. After this try, CTB Maruyama scored a conversion goal from a difficult angle. The score was now 17-21, and Tokai University had closed the gap to 4 points.
Tokai University was finally showing its true potential. The game was now heating up.
Then, 9 minutes into the second half. Meiji University’s WTB Ishida, the main player who took a big lead in the first half, was injured and had to leave the field. This is not good for Meiji University.
In the 14th minute of the second half, it was a bit of a stalemate in front of Meiji University’s goal, but Tokai University’s SO Muto took advantage of an overlap in Meiji University’s defensive network and scored a great try. The conversion goal was also successful, making the score 24-21, and Tokai University finally turned the game around.
Then, 21 minutes into the second half. In the 21st minute of the second half, Meiji University scored a PG in enemy territory and CTB Hirose scored to tie the score. The score was now 24-24.
After 20 minutes of the second half, both teams finally started to show their true potential. This was a game worthy of the semi-finals. Both teams attacked each other consecutively, but their strength was so close to each other that they repeatedly took turns moving forward and entered a physically demanding stalemate.
In the 26th minute of the second half, Meiji University won the ball in a lineout and deployed it to the right, where SO Ito of Meiji University tried to break through. However, once the Tokai University defensive net loosened up, he rushed forward and scored a try in the middle right corner. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score became 24-31, and Meiji University took a 7-point lead again. In such a tightly contested game, a new hero emerges. Meiji’s Ito, who had been invisible in the past as he played the role of a link, did a great job at the critical moment. The morale of the entire Meiji University team was lifted.
In the 32nd minute of the second half, flanker Fukuda made a big gain on the left side from the center of the field. Then, expanding to the right, FB Kumoyama of Meiji University rolled an exquisite kick into the opponent’s in-goal. At the last moment, Meiji University CTB Saito held the kick in the in-goal, and the try was scored. The conversion goal was also successful. The score was 24-38, and Meiji University finally took a 14-point lead. Later in the game, Meiji University scored a PG after a foul by Tokai University, and CTB Hirose scored a try. The game was over. The final score was 24-39 in favor of Meiji University.
Meiji University has decided to advance to the finals of the University Championship. It was a good game, with both teams showing their strengths, as befitting a semifinal game.
After a 40-minute break, we went to watch the second game of the day.
Game 2: Teikyo University (Kanto University Rugby Group 1) vs Kyoto Sangyo University (Kansai University Rugby Group A)
The following is the progress of the match between the two schools so far.
＊＊ Teikyo University ＊＊
Teikyo University won the Kanto University Rivalry Group matches undefeated, and advanced to this semi-final with an overwhelming victory (76-24) over Doshisha University, ranked 4th in the Kansai League, in the quarterfinals of the University Championship. This season, Teikyo University has been flying from the first half of the game, and there has never been a game where the other team has taken the lead. The team’s colors are strong in both FW and BK, and there seems to be no weaknesses in the team. According to the pre-match predictions, there were many reports that Teikyo University would win in order. What kind of game will Teikyo University play this time against the champions of the Kansai League? Since the first game was a tumultuous affair, expectations are high for a heated battle.
＊＊ Kyoto Sangyo University ＊＊
The champion of the Kansai University Rugby League this season. Like Teikyo University, it is undefeated until the semifinals of the University Championship. However, while Teikyo has won many games by overwhelming margins, Kyoto Sangyo University has won many games by narrow margins. In terms of team tactics, all players in both FW and BK will continue to play through contact without hesitation in order to advance. The source of scoring is the PG of FB Takeshita.
The second match was about to begin. Teikyo University made the same start as usual, attacking from the beginning. In the 5th minute of the first half, Teikyo University attacked into the opponent’s territory and developed to the right, and finally FB Yanaka scored a try. The conversion goal failed, and Teikyo University scored first, 5-0.
In the 12th minute of the first half, Kyoto Sangyo University scored a PG goal from inside the opponent’s territory, and FB Takenaka scored steadily. The score was 5-3, and Teikyo University led by two points.
Next, in the 20th minute of the first half. FB Taninaka drew the opponents back, and WTB Shirakuni made a brilliant switch play to score a try in the middle left. The conversion failed. The score is 10-3, and Teikyo University leads by 7 points.
23 minutes left in the first half. Kyoto Sangyo University had another PG opportunity in the opponent’s territory, and FB Takeshita scored. The score was now 10-6, and Kyoto Sangyo University was trailing by 4 points.
Up to this point, as predicted before the game, Teikyo University was ahead in the early stages of the game, and Kyoto Sangyo University was catching up by accumulating PG scores. However, from this point on, the potential of the Kyoto Sangyo University players began to awaken due to the attacks of Teikyo University, the leading candidate for the championship. In the previous games, Teikyo University players rarely lost a match. However, the Kyoto Sangyo University players, famous for their intense training, gradually outperformed the Teikyo University players in individual contact play.
29th minute of the first half. From a scrum in front of the goal, CTB Vakalahi tried to break through the center of the field and was stopped by a tackle, but he broke through again and scored a try by the goal post. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score was 10-13, giving Kyoto Sangyo University a three-point lead.
At this point, Kyoto Sangyo University started to overwhelm Teikyo University in the game development, with 70% of the ball control. Teikyo University had never played against a team that was so strong in individual contact play. I don’t know why the Kyoto Sangyo University players awakened, but perhaps this is the magic of the semifinals.
In the 38th minute of the first half, FB Takeshita scored his third PG of the day for Kyoto Sangyo University, making the score 10-16. In the closing minutes, Kyoto Sangyo University made a lineout deep in enemy territory and advanced by mauling. In the end, prop Hirano scored a try in front of the goal. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score was 10-23, giving Kyoto Sangyo University a 13-point lead at the end of the first half. From the middle of the first half, the momentum of the game was in Kyoto Sangyo University’s hands.
The way they scored the last try of the first half, it was as if Teikyo University had become a lower-ranked team. Teikyo University was in a tight spot. Do they still have the power to turn the game around like they did against Meiji University in the first game?
However, just like Tokai University’s comeback from the second half in the first game, we have seen several times in tournament games where a team that was inferior to the other team comes back to life in the second half.
Then, the second half started.
Teikyo University was the first to score. Five minutes into the second half, Teikyo University won the right to take a penalty kick in enemy territory, and SO Takamoto scored to make it three points in favor of Teikyo University. The score was 13-23 in favor of Teikyo University, and they were up by 10 points.
In the 9th minute of the second half, Teikyo University won the ball in a lineout in front of the enemy’s goal, and launched a maul attack, their specialty. Kyoto Sangyo University’s FW put up a strong fight against this attack. Teikyo University’s mauling move was stopped by Kyoto Sangyo University’s FW, but they gradually made progress. As Teikyo University approached the goal line, hooker Era broke free and scored a try in the left corner. The conversion goal after the try was a difficult one from the left corner, but SO Takamoto successfully converted it. The score was now 20-23, and Teikyo University had closed the gap to three points over Kyoto Sangyo University.
With this, I thought the game would gradually move at Teikyo University’s pace. However, Kyoto Sangyo University was strong. Their fighting spirit never waned. From here, they started to regain their footing. Once in enemy territory, they continued to dominate the ball in dense battles. Kyoto Sangyo University also gradually pushed Teikyo University in a maul. In the 16th minute of the second half, Kyoto Sangyo University’s WTB Funabiki received the ball near the center of the enemy area, and despite being surrounded by six Teikyo defenders, he broke through to the center of the field and advanced 2 meters to the goal post. Kyoto Sangyo University WTB Funabiki ran hard and the stadium erupted in cheers. Finally, he connected with prop Hirano to score a try in the middle of the field. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score was 20-30, giving Kyoto Sangyo University a 10-point lead over Teikyo University again.
Kyoto Sangyo University’s unflagging determination to win this game gave me goose bumps. Will Kyoto Sangyo University be able to win this game?
Then, 20 minutes into the second half. Teikyo University introduced Hosoki, who is said to be the No.1 student prop, as an impact player. His appearance made us feel that rugby is a sport of fighting spirit. The expressions on the faces of the Teikyo University FW players changed with Hosoki’s appearance. Hosoki has a great deal of trust from his teammates.
From this point on, Teikyo foolishly chose to use scrums in their set plays. The scrums, which had been evenly matched until then, began to show a clear advantage with the addition of Hosoki.
Then, in the 64th minute of the second half. Teikyo moved forward at once with a scrum, and Teikyo’s SH Lee picked up the spilled ball and scored a try in the middle left corner. The conversion goal was also successful, making the score 27-30. Teikyo University was again up by three points.
With the arrival of Hosoki, Teikyo University’s fighting spirit was infectious, and the entire team was filled with energy.
In the 31st minute of the second half, Teikyo University once again gained the upper hand in the scrum and earned the right to play PG in front of the enemy goal. SO Takamoto scored steadily, and the score was finally tied at 30-30.
Even if the game ended in a draw, the team with the most tries would win, according to the tournament rules, so Teikyo University had a mental advantage.
With Teikyo dominating in the scrum, they pushed the game forward in the opponent’s territory. The balance of power between the two sides was broken in the 38th minute of the second half. Teikyo University made a series of attacks in front of the goal and developed to the right, and finally WTB Tuinakauvadra scored a try in the right corner. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score became 37-30, and Teikyo University finally turned the game around just before the end. Teikyo University finally made a comeback just before the end of the game, and the game ended. Teikyo University will advance to the final game on January 9.
Both teams played a great game with a lot of spirit. It was a good game that showed the full potential of both teams. I believe that Teikyo University was able to perform so well because of this game against Kyoto Sangyo University.
The pairing for the University Championship final on January 9 is Teikyo University versus Meiji University. This was a showdown between two teams belonging to the Kanto University rivalry group. Will Teikyo University regain its position as the university champion for the first time in four years? Or will Meiji University get their revenge for three consecutive games? I’m getting excited now.
＊＊ Jerseys Collection 51 ＊＊
This is a replica jersey of the 2012-13 French national rugby team uniform, made by Adidas. I think it’s relatively easy to get this jersey since it’s pretty common. I wear it mostly when I play futsal.