RUGBY JERSEY~Japan Rugby League One Division1 Section 14~Yokohama Canon Eagles VS Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights

(Author: Azul, April 30, 2022)

This time (April 23, 2022), I went to Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, to watch the match between Yokohama Eagles and Saitama Wild Knights.

Nissan Stadium refers to the Yokohama International Stadium; during RWC2019, we were not allowed to use the company name. In RWC2019, big matches such as finals and semi-finals were held.

It was only 3 years ago, but it seems like a lot of time has passed, perhaps because of the outbreak of the new Corona and the Ukrainian crisis during this time. I took it for granted that sports are a festival of peace, but it takes a lot of effort from people all over the world to hold such a festival.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


It has been a long time since I visited Nissan Stadium for a League One match, and I felt very nostalgic.

The photo above is a view of the city from Shin-Yokohama station. It was the first sunny day in a long time and the temperature reached 27 degrees Celsius. It was already early summer.

The venue for the match was a large venue with a capacity of over 70,000 people, so there were many spectators.

The Nissan Stadium is a very prestigious stadium. It reminds me of the many great games that have taken place in the past and makes me feel that I have come to the place of decisive battles.

Personally, I would like to see more matches played at Tokyo Stadium and Nissan Stadium, which were the venue for RWC 2019. I would like to see more matches played there, but due to the new corona infection, we have not yet been able to bring back the crowds.

The attendance that day was 8,299, which was a bit sad because the stadium has a capacity of over 70,000 people, so the empty seats were noticeable. Considering that League One averages about 3,000 spectators per game, however, today’s game was a fairly healthy showing.

Let’s check the League One standings before the match.

1Tokyo Sungoliath121056 
2Kubota Spears103049 
3Saitama Wildnights112048 
4Tokyo Brave Lupas95044 
5Yokohama Eagles94041 
6Toyota Verblitz85037 
7Kobe Steelers58027 
8Shizuoka Blue Revs49020 
9Black Rams Tokyo310016 
10Red Hurricanes Osaka311014-248
11Shining Arks Tokyo Bay310014-187
12Green Rockets Tokatsu211013 

WP=Winning Point

GD=Goal Difference

The top three teams are almost guaranteed a spot in the final tournament, but the race for the remaining team is very tight. The three teams currently in fourth through sixth place are vying for tournament qualification. The standings are changing every week. Which team will win the final four places among Brave Lupus Tokyo, Yokohama Eagles, and TOYOTA Verblitz? The final match will be held on May 8.

Now, let me introduce the teams for today’s game.

The host team this time is Yokohama Canon Eagles. They are currently ranked 5th in Division 1 of League One. Their parent company, Canon, is a large global camera manufacturer. The team was ranked low in the Top League in its early years, but has been working to strengthen its team by bringing in a famous coach, Sawaki.

The gap in power with the top teams has been narrowing with each match. In particular, last season’s Top League champion, the Wild Knights, whom they face this day, beat them in their first game last year by a huge margin of 0-47, and also by a complete loss. However, in the playoffs that year, they closed the gap to 17-32, and in this season’s matchup, the score was 3-27. In all of their games, they have lost to the Wild Knights, but in terms of content, they have gradually improved. Can the Eagles make up for it in this day’s match?

The starting lineup for today’s game is as follows

Yokohama Eagles
1Suguru Igarashi171cm101kg28 
2Yusuke Niwai174cm95kg30Japan 10cap
3Rento Tsugayama185cm105kg23 
4Saumaki Amanaki190cm100kg25 
5Cory Hill196cm117kg30Wales 32cap
6Kobas van Dyk196cm108kg27 
7Naoto Shimada181cm99kg30 
8Amanaki Lelei Mafi189cm112kg32Japan 29cap
9Kazufumi Yamasuga164cm78kg24 
10Yu Tamura181cm92kg33Japan 68cap
11Chihito Matsui183cm88kg27Japan 2cap
12Yusuke Kajimura181cm95kg26Japan 1cap
13Jesse Kriel185cm95kg28South Africa 51cap
14Viliame Takayawa184cm103kg25 
15S.P. Marais185cm94kg33 

** Players to watch **

S.P. Murays. 185 cm, 94 kg, 33 years old. From South Africa. Position = FB. He joined the Eagles in 2020 after playing for the SHARKS of SUPER RUGBY. One of the best offensive players in League One, he is a stalwart FB for the Eagles and is a key member of the defense at the back of the line. He will also play placekicker in this match.

Next, let us introduce the visiting team, the Saitama Wild Knights. Last season’s Top League champions. A strong team that competes for the championship every year. Most of the players on this year’s starting lineup have experience as representatives of their home country. This season, they have two losses, but in fact, they are the only undefeated team in League One because they lost a game due to a new corona infection. Their head coach is world-renowned general Robert Deans, and all eyes will be on this season to see which team can stop the Wild Knights’ winning streak. The Eagles are one of the candidates.

Today’s Wild Knights starting lineup is as follows

Saitama Wild Nights
1Keita Inagaki186cm116kg31Japan 39cap
2Atsushi Sakade180cm104kg28Japan 27cap
3Shohei Hirano178cm120kg28 
4Ryota Hasegawa188cm100kg28Japan
5George Kruis198cm123kg32England 45cap
6Itsuki Onishi185cm98kg26 
7Lachlan Boshier191cm104kg27 
8Jack Cornelsen195cm110kg27Japan 6cap
9Keisuke Uchida179cm86kg30Japan 22cap
10Rikiya Matsuda181cm92kg27Japan 29cap
11Marika Koroibete182cm96kg29Australia 42cap
12Hadleigh Parkes187cm107kg34Wales 29cap
13Dylan Riley187cm102kg24Japan 4cap
14Koki Takeyama175cm84kg25 
15Ryuji Noguchi177cm83kg26Japan 13cap

** Players to watch **

Ryuji Noguchi. 177 cm, 83 kg, 26 years old. until just before the RWC 2019, he was a member of the Japan national team. I believe his qualities as a FB, positioning, accurate kicking, and ability to sense danger are No. 1 in Japan. The only thing he lacks is his physique.Compared to the rest of the world, he is a little short in height and weight.

Let’s see how the match went.

9 minutes into the first half:

The Eagles must have had several plans of attack for this match, but they scored the first goal.

The Eagles kicked off the game. The Eagles made steady progress with a series of attacks after entering enemy territory, and then, after an infringement by the opponent, formed a lineout in front of the enemy goal to secure possession. From there, the Eagles attacked in a maul, which has been their scoring pattern this season, and swept into the enemy in-goal, where hooker Niwai held up the ball for the first try.

The Eagles took the lead with a conversion goal by FB Murays to make the score 7-0.

9 minutes into the first half:

The Wild Knights were expected to counterattack, but the Eagles took advantage of a mistake by their opponents and took the ball on a series of attacks. Flanker van Dyk and WTB Matsui broke down the left flank of the enemy line and scored a try in the left corner. A difficult finish from the left corner by Eagles FB Marais gave the Eagles a big 14-0 lead.

The spirit of the Eagles up to this point was so great that minor mistakes on the part of the Wild Knights were noticeable. The Eagles also made full use of various BK sign plays in the first half.

20 minutes into the first half:

The Wild Knights were able to get into the enemy territory a little bit and drew a foul on the opposing team, where they opted to go for the PG. The Wild Knights’ SO Matsuda succeeded the PG to make the score 14-3.

After this, the game went on without either team scoring. However, it was a good game with a lot of highlights.

37 minutes into the first half

With neither team scoring, the Eagles were able to score after a foul on their opponents in front of the goal in enemy territory. This was scored by Eagles FB Marais, making the score 17-3 and giving the Eagles a 14-point lead.

The first half ended with the score remaining unchanged. The Eagles were able to keep their good flow going, thanks to steady defense and placekicks by FB Marais.

At this point, it became halftime.

A look back at the Eagles’ attack in the first half.

In the previous match, the FW third row, led by Mafi, tried to break hard individually, which was a mistake at every turn. In this match, the team was aware of the need to work together with nearby players to make a breakthrough.

In the backs, they played the game with the mindset of using short passes and passing before making contact to gain an advantage in terms of number of players and then deploying.

However, it was a hot day. In the direct sunlight inside the stadium, the temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius.

Then came the start of the second half. How would the champion Wild Knights roll back from this point?

6 minutes into the second half

The two teams went back and forth on offense and defense. The Wild Knights brought the ball in and the Eagles got it back, and then the Wild Knights got it back in the ensuing densely packed battle. Unable to find a way through, the Wild Knights opted for a PG on the penalty kick they got here. SO Matsuda succeeded, making the score 17-6. The Wild Knights were now up by 11 points.

The Wild Knights made all three changes in the first row of the FW. All three were strong and all represented Japan. This depth of players is one of the strengths of the Wild Knights.

7 minutes into the second half

SO Matsuda of the Wild Knights raises a high punt from his own line. Just before an Eagles player was about to catch it, Wild Knights FB Noguchi came around and made the catch. Noguchi succeeded offroad pass to WTB Koloibete before being tackled. Koloibete continued to show his speed and ran over 40 meters to score a try in the left corner. The conversion goal after the try failed. The Wild Knights were now within 6 points of the score, 17-11.

12 minutes into the second half:

The Wild Knights slowly began to take control of the game. The gathering and dispersal of each player became noticeably quicker, and with it, the Eagles began to make frequent mistakes. From their own territory, the Wild Knights attacked the enemy territory with a series of attacks, which led to a foul by the Eagles in front of the goalposts in the enemy territory. The Wild Knights chose to go for the PG instead of forcing a try. The Wild Knights’ SO Matsuda was steadily successful, bringing the score to within three points, 17-14.

15 minutes into the second half :

The Wild Knights’ set plays began to stabilize and the Eagles’ defenders began to noticeably break down. The Wild Knights’ No. 8 Kornersen easily broke through the side of a tight pack that the Eagles had never been able to get past in the first half, allowing Kornersen to run solo for over 40 meters. Kornersen was able to get close to the goal line, but the Eagles managed to hold on. However, the Eagles were quickly pushed over in the ensuing scrum, resulting in a turnover by the Wild Knights. The Eagles allowed CTB Riley of the Wild Knights to break through the middle and score a try. The Wild Knights succeeded the conversion goal after the try to make the score 17-21. The Wild Knights scored 18 points in just 16 minutes from the start of the second half.

Watching from the stands, I felt the last 16 minutes of the second half was like watching magic. The Wild Knights always attack in the second half, but I did not expect the Eagles, who were so dominant in the first half, to be crushed by the Wild Knights in a one-sided affair. For Eagles supporters, this was a nightmare.

29 minutes into the second half :

The Eagles became inconsistent at set pieces after Japan hooker Niwai was injured in the 14th minute of the second half. They were pushed in scrums, and in lineouts, the ball was being steeled.

The Wild Knights went into the enemy territory, and from a penalty kick, they secured the ball in a lineout on their own ball, then moved forward steadily in a maul. Hooker Sakate scored a try at the left corner of the goal line, and succeeded in scoring the conversion goal after the try. The score was 27-16, and the Wild Knights took a 9-point lead.

39 minutes into the second half:

Toward the end of the game, the Eagles repeated a series of attacks to get within 7 points, the requirement for 1 winning point. They deployed to the backs and tried to advance, but the ball was dropped. It was kicked in by Wild Knights FB Noguchi and the Eagles were forced to fall back. The Wild Knights FB Noguchi caught the ball and passed off-load to CTB Ryley who followed up on the ball in front of the goal line. Ryley then scored a try just below the goal post. And the Wild Nights succeeded the conversion goal to make the score 17-33 in favor of the Wild Knights.

42 minutes into the second half:

After the horn sounded for the last play, the Eagles continued to attack. Flanker Harasiri of the Eagles scored a try in the right corner. The Eagles converted the goal and the final score was 24-33. Eagles FB Malays had a 100% success rate for placekicks on the day.

At the end of the day’s matches, the Saitama Wild Knights were in third place and had clinched a spot in the playoffs. The Yokohama Eagles, on the other hand, dropped to 5th place and will play their remaining two games for a chance to advance to the playoffs.

RUGBY JERSEY – Japan Rugby League One Division 1, No.13 – RICOH Black Rams Tokyo vs Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo

(Author: Azul, April 21, 2022)

April 16, 2022. The match I went to see was the Japan Rugby League One Division 1 match between Black Rams Tokyo and Brave Lupus Tokyo. The venue was Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground in Minato-ku, Tokyo, and the game started at 14:30.

The host team for the day was Black Rams.

Before the game starts, let’s check the Division 1 standings just before the game started.

1Tokyo Sungoliath111051 
2Kubota Spears102044 
3Saitama Wildnights93044 
4Yokohama Eagles84036 
5Tokyo Brave Lupas75034 
6Toyota Verblitz75032 
7Kobe Steelers57026 
8Shizuoka Blue Revs48020 
9Black Rams Tokyo39016 
10Red Hurricanes Osaka39014-207
11Green Rockets Tokatsu39014-157
12Shining Arks Tokyo Bay210013 

WP=Winning Point

GD=Goal Difference

Black Rams are currently in 9th place, and if they fall below 10th place, they will have to play in a promotion or relegation deciding match with Division 2, which is only 2 points behind 10th place. Depending on the results of this week’s matches, they will be in 10th place.

Brave Lupus, on the other hand, is currently in 5th place. However, to qualify for the final tournament, they must finish in fourth place. Again, the margin of victory is two points. Depending on this week’s results, it is possible to move up.

This is a game that both teams cannot afford to lose. In their last meeting, Black Rams won. What will happen now?

Before the match, let’s take a look at the most recent team information for both teams.

First, let’s look at the home team, Black Rams.

RICOH Black Rams Tokyo: The parent company is an office equipment manufacturer. Host area is Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. In the Top League, the predecessor to League One, they were ranked in the middle of the standings. Last season, the team finished in fifth place, its highest ranking since its founding. This season, the team had a good start to the season, but after injuries to some of the team’s key players, the team has been in a slump.

Here is today’s starting lineup.

Black Rams
1Yuichiro Taniguchi180cm106kg23 
2Yuki Mori181cm111kg36 
3Sotaro Okawa181cm112kg30 
4Daiki Yanagawa191cm108kg32Japan 1cap
5Michael Stolberg204cm120kg30 
6Shohei Fukumoto181cm93kg29 
7Junpei Yukawa180cm89kg25 
8Amato Fakatava195cm118kg27 
9Matt Lucas172cm82kg29 
10Izac Lucas178cm84kg22 
11Yoshiyuki Koga175cm83kg23 
12Kohei Horigome177cm89kg26 
13Yuki Ikeda185cm98kg26 
14Netani Vakayalia180cm88kg23 
15Taira Main178cm89kg21 

** Player to watch **

Michael Stolberg. 204 cm, 120 kg, 29 years old. Position: Lock. He is from Australia. After playing for Sunwolves and Kintetsu, he joined Black Rams this season. He is a real fighter whose fighting spirit overflows from his body, and he continues to work with dedication on the front line. He is a very prominent player in spite of his humble position as a lock. This means that he is very athletic.

Next, let’s talk about today’s visiting team, Brave Lupus.

In contrast to Black Rams, Brave Lupus had a string of black matches in the early part of the season, but they have been winning in the second half of the season and have improved their ranking to a position where they can aim for the top four. They are a strong team with five Top League championships, so it seems that they are finally coming into their own.

Here is today’s starting lineup.

Brave Lupas
1Yuma Fujino181cm115kg26 
2Shin Oouchi181cm110kg24 
3Yuta Kokaji178cm109kg23 
4Warner Dearns201cm117kg20Japan 1cap
5Jacob Pierce201cm106kg24 
6Michael Leitch189cm113kg33Japan 72cap
7Matt Todo185cm104kg33New Zealand  25cap
8Hiroki Yamamaoto187cm95kg29Japan 5cap
9Yuhei Sugiyama169cm76kg24 
10Tom Taylor186cm92kg32New Zealand  3cap
11Taiki Matsunobu186cm95kg31 
12Hayata Nakao176cm86kg26 
13Nicolas Mccurran188cm93kg25 
14Jone Naikabula177cm95kg27Japan
15Shohei Toyoshima175cm87kg32 

** Player to watch **

Warner Dearns. 201 cm, 112 kg, 20 years old. Position: Lock. Born in New Zealand. After graduating from high school, he joined Brave Lupus and quickly earned a regular position in the team. In League One, he has shown outstanding ability in terms of athleticism and running ability.

Let the game begin.

1 minute of the first half: Brave Lupus always attack at full throttle from the start of every match. On this day, after securing the ball in the lineout after the kickoff, the FW and BK worked in unison, and their momentum did not wane at all. No. 8 Yamamoto scored the first try in the left corner of the opponent’s in-goal. After the try, SO Taylor succeeded in scoring the conversion goal, making the score 0-7, and Brave Lupus took the lead.

10 minutes into the first half

Black Rams made a number of unintentional errors as a result of the pressure from the Brave Lupus up front. The Brave Lupus team simply formed a maul in front of the goal as they had done in the past, but they could do little to push back and easily gave up their second try of the day. It was hooker Oouchi who scored the try in the right center of the field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 0-14, giving Brave Lupus a big lead.

14 minutes into the first half

Brave Lupus won the right to take the PG in enemy territory, and the kicker SO Taylor who is the No. 1 kicker in League One made a steady stream of successes. The score was 0-17, and Brave Lupus took a one-sided lead.

21 minutes into the first half:

Black Rams first score was a PG in enemy territory. Black Rams made a series of attacks in enemy territory, but could not break through, so they chose to go for the PG after a foul on their opponents. The PG was successful by SO Lucas and the score was 3-17.

Black Rams made several big gains in a series of attacks, but were blocked in front of the goal line by Brave Lupus on several occasions. Nevertheless, Black Rams showed persistence in attack, held the ball, deployed to the right, and when SO Lucas received the ball, he drew several defenders from the opposing team and passed to No. 8 Fakatava. He went on to score a try right down the middle. The conversion goal after the try failed, and the score was 8-17, with Black Rams within 9 points.

28 minutes into the first half.

Black Rams are finally on the offensive. A quick tempo move to the left was intercepted by WTB Naikabula of the Brave Lupus, and Naikabula ran more than 50 meters solo to score a try in the middle of the right field. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 8-22.

The first half ended with this score.

In the games that I have seen of Brave Lupus so far, their pattern of losing is that if they continue to attack without thinking about the pace from the first half, they run out of steam in the second half. However, during their recent winning streak, they have maintained their fitness in the second half. Now, let’s see what will happen.

At halftime, Ram Maru, Black Rams’ mascot, showed up and put on his charm. He is the No. 1 mascot in the League One mascot popularity poll.

So let’s get the second half underway.

Four minutes into the second half:

On a penalty kick resulting from an infringement by the opponent, Brave Lupus elected to go into touch, resulting in a lineout in front of the opponent’s goal, which was their own ball. From here, Brave Lupus won the ball and tried to advance with a maul. Black Rams showed more tenacity than in the first half, when they scored in a similar attack, but were unable to push back and scored another try right in the middle by Brave Lupus hooker Oouchi. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 8-29.

19 minutes into the second half

Black Rams attacked after entering enemy territory, deployed to the right side, and connected the ball from SO to WTB on the right edge, from where they made a significant gain to the goal line. There, a penalty kick was awarded for a foul on the opposing team, resulting in a lineout of their own ball in front of the enemy goal. The team won the ball from there and formed a maul to advance. The maul was joined by BK players, who pushed the ball all the way to the in-goal, where hooker Onishi, who came on as a substitute, scored the try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 15-29. The Black Rams were now 14 points behind.

25 minutes into the second half

Brave Lupus, confident in their FWs, seemed to have been fired up by Black Rams’ maul try, and they attacked the enemy line and relentlessly repeated the FW side attack. In the end, LO Pierce scored a try in the middle of the left field with a strong effort. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 15-36, giving Brave Lupus a big lead.

33 minutes into the second half

Black Rams took a long touch kick out of their own half by SO Mcgahan, who took over from his own team, and as he crossed the enemy 22 meters, the ball went out of the area for a lineout of their own ball. It was an exquisite touch kick. FB Lucas passed the ball behind him to WTB Kurihara, who took over and scored a try in the left center of the field. After the try, the conversion goal was also successful, making the score 22-36. Black Rams were now 14 points behind.

37 minutes into the second half: Black Rams scored a try.

With Black Rams having scored a try earlier, the bonus point awarded to the Brave Lupus team for scoring three or more tries against the opposing team disappeared. Therefore, with little time remaining, they were determined to score a try, no matter what.

On the other hand, if Black Rams scored seven more points, they would be awarded one winning point even if they did not win the match, so they had to desperately try to score a try. Otherwise, there was the worst case that they would end up in the replacement game.

With less than five minutes remaining, the game suddenly became heated. Both sides were trying to advance, even from their own positions. However, it was Brave Lupus who scored the final try. After a series of attacks, the ball was turned to the left and WTB Kuwayama, who came on during the game, scored the final try in the left corner. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the final score 22-43.

As a result, Brave Lupus gained 5 points. However, the fourth-placed Canon Eagles also won, so they remain in fifth place with two points difference.

Black Rams, on the other hand, remained in ninth place after the teams ranked 10th through 12th all lost. However, they are only two points behind.

The next round of the tournament will also be completely unpredictable.

Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

RUGBY JERSEY – Japan Rugby League One Division 2 Final Section- MHI Sagamihara Dynaboars vs Mie Honda Heat

(Author: Azul, April 14, 2022)

April 9, 2022 marked the final day of Division 2 of Rugby’s League One, which began on January 9 and will end about three months later, in mid-April.

Let’s take a look back at the standings through last week.

The final section, Section 10, will mark the end of the season, and the standings will be assigned.

Division 2
1Sagamihara Dynaboars90042 
2Hanazono Kintetsu Liners72035 
3Mie Honda HEAT63027 
4Hino Red Dolphins36017 
5Kamaishi Seawaves RFC1807 
6Mazda Skyactivs Hiroshima1804 

The only difference is that the top 3 teams and the bottom 3 teams will be separated. After this, a playoff will be held to determine the final ranking for the replacement round. Therefore, even if a team finishes the season in first place, if it loses in the playoffs, it may drop to third place in the final standings. Furthermore, if the teams do not win the replacement round, the top three teams will not be able to move up to Division 1, and the bottom three teams will be relegated to Division 3 if they lose in the round-robin tournament. A very tough battle awaits the teams after this.

Now then, let me introduce the two teams that will be playing today.

First, let’s take a look at the home team, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Sagamihara Dynaboars.

They are currently ranked No. 1 in Division 2. They are undefeated in their last 9 games. Their final opponent is Mie Honda Heat, who are currently in third place, but in their last matchup, they led until the halfway point before finally pulling off a comeback victory. They are not an easy opponent. In addition, in the Top League until last year, the Dynaboars had lost five straight matches to Honda Heat, and with a rematch confirmed for the first round of the playoffs in late April, this is a matchup that neither team can afford to lose.

Let’s take a look at today’s starting lineup.

1Hayato Hosoda173cm103kg26 
2Yuya Otsuka171cm98kg26 
3Jun Morimoto175cm112kg25 
4Ryoma Tokuda188cm105kg32 
5Epineri Uluiviti198cm118kg28 
6Heiden Bedwell-Curtis194cm110kg30 
7Noriya Kobayashi185cm105kg37 
8Dylan Nel185cm110kg30 
9Ippei Oshima172cm78kg26 
10Nicholas Ealey180cm90kg33 
11Gosuke Kawakami173cm92kg27 
12Takumi Sugiura176cm90kg23 
13Yusho Takeda177cm87kg28 
14Keita Sekimoto174cm90kg28 
15Kazuki Ishida173cm85kg26 

I was a bit surprised to see today’s starters. Dynaboars didn’t use any of their main players for this match, but instead went into the game with reserve players. It looks like they are focusing more on the next match to decide the ranking than on the match today.

** Players to watch **

Dylan Nel, 185 cm, 110 kg, 30 years old. Position: No. 8, from South Africa, He joined the team this season after working for the SUPER RUGBY Chiefs and other teams. He is expected to play an active role in the dense competition.

Next, I would like to introduce Mie Honda Heat, a varsity team. Until last year, they belonged to the Top League. They are a team with large players in key attacking positions and they have a very strong defense, and it is very difficult to break down their defensive network at set pieces.

Here is today’s starting lineup.

1Tatsuhiko Tsurukawa182cm114kg26 
2Shota Nishizawa176cm103kg25 
3Matthys Basson190cm116kg26 
4Franco Mostert200cm112kg31South Africa 49cap
5Naoya Nakagawa191cm104kg25 
6Ryota Kobayashi182cm98kg30 
7Ryo Furuta183cm99kg26 
8Paddy Butler191cm107kg31 
9Kenta Yamaji171cm73kg32 
10Songgi Pak179cm89kg28 
11Kanta Omata171cm82kg27 
12Kaito Morikawa176cm87kg33Japan 1cap
13Soki Watanabe175cm89kg24 
14Nobutaka Ubukata169cm82kg33 
15Matto Duffie192cm95kg31New Zealand  2cap

While Dynaboars lost a member for today’s game, Honda Heat’s lineup is almost the same as usual, except for the absence of No.8 Kaipouli.

** Players to watch **

Nobutaka Ubukata. 169cm, 82kg. right WTB. 33 years old.

He is a former member of Japan’s 7-man national team. He is not a big man, but he is the team’s try getter who shows his determination when the time comes.

Let’s take a look at the match in Section 10.

The venue for the match is Sagamihara Guion Stadium, the home stadium of the Dynaboars.

The weather that day was clear and sunny. The temperature was 26 degrees Celsius, and most of the spectators were wearing short sleeves. It might be a little hard for the players.

I arrived at the venue at 10:30 a.m., although the game was scheduled to start at 12:00 p.m. The bus service here is not so good, so I arrived earlier than usual.

Today, I was seated on the lawn behind the goal. The reason why the bus access is not so good is that there are only about 2,000 spectators, so there are not many extra buses. The capacity of the stadium is 15,300 people, so I hope we can gather more. If they win the replacement match and advance to Division 1, I think the number of games will increase and the number of spectators will grow.

Now, let the games begin.

Today’s Dynaboars team started mainly young reserve players, but all the backs players were in the 170cm height range, and it was not easy to break through HONDA Heat’s defenders. However, the small backs were well-trained defensively, and they tackled hard to hold off the big HONDA Heat players.

First half, 19 minutes in.

Honda Heat had a PG opportunity deep into enemy territory with the goal in front of them. SO Pak scored. Honda Heat takes the lead 0-3.

First Half 24 min.

The Dyna Boars attacked into the enemy territory and made a series of attacks, but Honda Heat’s tight defense in front of the goal made it difficult for them to score. In the end, No. 8 Nel made a strong individual breakthrough in front of the enemy goal and scored a try in the left center. After the try, SO Ishida succeeded in scoring the conversion goal, making the score 7-3, and Dynaboars succeeded in reversing the score.

First half 27 min.

Honda Heat moved deep into the enemy territory and launched a series of attacks. However, they could not break through the Dyna Boars’ defensive net and could not make any headway. On their second attempt, a kick by Honda Heat’s FBDuffie was deflected in by the Dynaboars No. 8 Nel charged and caught the ball. As it was, he ran more than 50 meters on his own and scored his second try of the day in the right center. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 12-3, and the Dynaboars took a 9-point lead.

31 minutes in the first half:

From the kickoff after the try, HONDA HEAT attacked into enemy territory. In the midst of a series of attacks, the Dynaboars committed an foul in a crowded area, for which HONDA HEAT was awarded a penalty kick. Since the penalty was in front of the goal, HONDA Heat chose to go for the PG, which SO Pak succeeded steadily. The score was 12-6, and HONDA Heat The team was within 6 points.

The first half ended with this point difference.

It was now half time. At halftime, the official cheerleader of the Dynaboars, Dyna Stars performed a cheering dance to open the event.

As far as the first half of the game is concerned, there is no big difference in strength between the two sides. Since the Dynaboars did not have their core players in the match, it would not be surprising if HONDA Heat turned the tables in the second half. Can the Dynaboars finish the season undefeated?

Let’s start the second half.

Six minutes into the second half:.

In the second half, the HONDA Heat players showed a lot of momentum when attacking. They began to try to advance on every contact play and even run as hard as they could when receiving a pass. The Dyna Boars defense, though small in numbers, did their best to hold them off, but gradually the HONDA Heat began to move forward. FB Duffie broke through the opponent’s defensive network, and came close to scoring the goal in enemy territory. In the end, No.8 Butler scored a goal in the middle of the left field. The try was scored. The conversion goal after the try was unsuccessful, but the HONDA Heat were within one point, 12-11.

12 minutes into the second half.

From the kickoff after the opposing team’s try, the Dynaboars quickly attacked, and from a dense battle, they drew a foul on the opposing team, earning the right for a PG. FB Ishida scored it to make the score 15-11, giving the Dynamo Bears a 4-point lead.

From this point on, the game became a stalemate with neither side giving an inch. However, the Dynaboars could not break through the HONDA Heat’s defensive net, although they repeatedly ran around and developed their game. This was the limit of the power of the small backs of the Dynaboars today.

34 minutes into the second half.

HONDA Heat got out of a scrum five meters in front of the enemy goal line with the FW’s side attacked to advance. They came close to the goal line, but Dynavores bounced back several times. From there, HONDA HEAT moved to the left, and the final pass was passed from right WTB Ubukata to left WTB Omata, who scored a reverse try in the left corner of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed. However, with only a few minutes remaining, HONDA Heat turned the score around, trailing by just one point, 15-16.

With only one point difference with four minutes remaining, a PG or DG was all that was needed to turn the tide. HONDA Heat continued to hold onto the ball and the match ended as it did.

HONDA Heat’s victory was a victory of persistence. The Dynaboars had their nine-game winning streak come to a halt, but they still maintained their hold on the top spot in Division 2.

The playoffs were to be a lot of fun. There is no difference in strength among the top three teams, so it is not surprising no matter who wins.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

RUGBY JERSEY – Japan Rugby League One Division 1 Section 11 – Green Rockets TOKATSU vs Toyota Verblitz

(Author: Azul, April 3, 2022)

On March 27, 2022, this week I went to Kashiwanoha Park General Stadium in Chiba Prefecture to watch the Green Rockets Tokatsu vs Toyota Verblitz game.

It was my first time to go to Kashiwanoha Stadium. The train and bus connections went smoothly, but it still took me 2 hours and 30 minutes. JR Hachioji Station → JR Ochanomizu Station → JR Akihabara Station → Tsukuba Express Kashiwanoha Campus Station. It was a route.

About Kashiwanoha Stadium: The stadium opened in 1999. It was originally planned as the home stadium of Kashiwa Reysol of the J-League soccer team. However, when it first opened, it gradually fell into disuse due to reasons such as poor accessibility from the nearest station and the fact that it was not a dedicated soccer stadium. Then, after some twists and turns, the Rugby League One’s NEC Green Rockets TOKATSU’s home stadium. For the Green Rockets, it can be used almost exclusively, and the stadium is expected to finally have a home team and become a trump card to eliminate the deficit. The nice thing about this stadium is that it is fully roofed, so you don’t have to worry so much about rain. Also, the access to the stadium has improved considerably with the construction of Kashiwanoha Campus Station as the nearest station. The capacity is 20,000 people.

And most importantly, the number of local fans is increasing. If the team becomes stronger, the future will be brighter.

Let’s first check out where both teams stand in the Division 1 standings.

1Tokyo Sungoliath91042 
2Kubota Spears82039 
3Saitama Wildnights82036 
4Yokohama Eagles73032 
5Toyota Verblitz64027 
6Tokyo Brave Lupas55025 
7Kobe Steelers46021 
8Black Rams Tokyo37016 
9Shizuoka Blue Revs37014-86
10Red Hurricanes Osaka37014-137
11Green Rockets Tokatsu28013 
12Shining Arks Tokyo Bay2808 

The Green Rockets are currently in 11th place. This means that if they stay in this position, they will have to play the replacement game at the end of the season and win it. If they lose, they will be relegated to Division 2 next season. In contrast, the visiting team, Verblitz, is in 5th place. The immediate goal of the top teams is to finish in the top four by the end of the season and advance to the final tournament. Both teams have immediate goals, so this is a match that neither team can afford to lose. However, it is said that in the sport of rugby, giant-killing, as in soccer, is not likely to occur. It is highly likely that the top team will win the match in order of merit. Therefore, the Verblitz is favored as a pre-match prediction.

Now, let me introduce each team.

First, the home team, NEC Green Rockets TOKATSU. The parent company is NEC. One of the leading electric manufacturers in Japan. In the Top League era, they were rather low ranked. In addition, they lost all the games in the Top League last year. This season’s record shows two wins, but in reality, they are unearned wins due to a new type of corona infection of the opposing team. In other words, the team has not won any games since last year, a disgraceful record.

However, the Green Rockets have made significant reinforcements for their entry into League One. More than 10 new players with national team or Super Rugby experience have joined the team. Their personnel costs are among the highest in League One.

Let’s take a look at the starting lineup for this week’s match.

Green Rockets
1Gakuto Ishida178cm110kg24 
2Shin Kawamura172cm102kg34 
3Takahiro Doi182cm113kg35 
4Daiki Yamagiwa198cm103kg24 
5Jake Ball199cm121kg30Wales 50cap
6Yoshiya Hosoda192cm103kg34Japan 2cap
7Tatsuru Owada178cm95kg30 
8Whetukamokamo Douglas190cm110kg30 
9Kwisuke Yamada170cm75kg30 
10Taisetsu Kanai178cm88kg25 
11Hiroyuki Miyajima182cm85kg29 
12Maritino Nemani181cm101kg30 
13Kentaro Kodama183cm90kg30Japan 4cap
14Teruya Goto177cm80kg30 
15Tom Marshall183cm94kg31 

Looking at the games played so far, they have not lost a single game against higher ranked teams, and they are good enough in terms of attack. However, since they have brought in a lot of new players, they have not been able to work together as well as they would like. Also, they have been committing too many penalties in every game, which is the reason why they are losing games. However, they seem to be gradually gaining in ability after being toughed out in Division 1. They have lost all of their games, but they have lost a few games by 7 points or less, where they have earned winning points.

** Players to watch **

Tom Marshall. 183 cm, 94 kg, 31 years old. Position = FB. from New Zealand. From this season, he is a new member. Joined Green Rockets after Super Rugby with Chiefs and Crusaders. When he has the ball at the end of the line, he is a match winner who counter attacks quite often. He is a player who is always in a belligerent mood and is a pleasure to watch.

And now, let me introduce today’s visiting team, Toyota Verblitz. Currently ranked 5th in Division 1, they need to move up in the standings in order to advance to the final tournament. They have been in contention for the championship every year, but the championship itself has not been possible in the Top League since 2004, and for Verblitz, winning the League One championship is a long-cherished dream. Compared to the top three teams of this  season (Wildnights, Sungoliath, and Spears), Verblitz is one step behind in terms of decisiveness in attack and a solid defense.

Today’s starting lineup for Verblitz is as follows

1Gaku Shimizu174cm108kg23 
2Yoshikatsu Hikosaka178cm99kg31Japan
3Shunsuke Asaoka185cm121kg25Japan
4Daichi Akiyama192cm110kg25Japan
5Michael Allaradice200cm112kg30 
6Peter-Steph Du Toit200cm120kg29South Africa 58cap
7Masato Furukawa179cm95kg25Japan 2cap
8Kazuki Himeno170cm78kg27Japan 22cap
9Kaito Shigeno173cm80kg25Japan 13cap
10Lionel Cronie184cm92kg32 
11Taichi Takahashi180cm91kg25Japan
12Charlie Lawrence172cm87kg23 
13Rob Tompson184cm103kg30 
14Masakatsu Hikosaka177cm92kg31 
15Dai Ozawa183cm90kg32 

** Players to watch **

Taichi Takahashi, 180 cm, 91 kg, position = WTB. He was even selected as a candidate for Japan’s national team. He is expected to replace the retired WTB Fukuoka. He is highly physical and is expected to be able to break through to some extent. He was injured in the first half of this season, but has finally returned to the team. We look forward to his future success.

Now, let the game begin.

8 minutes into the first half:

Verblitz started the game with a series of attacks and gradually made progress. Finally, Verblitz  expanded to the right and CTB Lawrence scored a try right in the middle of the field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and Verblitz was up 0-7. The lead was taken.

13 minutes into the first half:

As in the previous attack, Verblitz won the ball and gradually moved forward. The Green Rockets could stop the player with the ball, but could not stop their opponent from advancing. So Verblitz gradually advanced. Finally, they moved left in front of the goal, and WTB Takahashi got through the opposing defense and scored a try in the middle of the left field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 0-14, Verblitz leading by 14 points.

21 minutes into the first half:

Verblitz SO Cronje scored a PG to make the score 0-17 and give Verblitz the lead for good.

25 minutes into the first half:

Greenrockets were pushed back to their own goal, but  Verblitz foul pushed them back to the halfway line. From there, Greenrockets won the ball from a lineout on the right side of the field, and then took it to the left where Greenrockets CTB Nemani broke behind the opposing defense and made a big gain. From there, he passed the ball to CTB Kodama, who scored a try in the middle of the left field area. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 5-15, and Greenrockets were within 10 points.

30 minutes into the first half:

From the kickoff after the opposing team’s try, Verblitz attacked in succession. SO Cronie’s short punt kick was handled by Greenrockets FB Marshall. He picked up the ball and then dropped it. This was followed by Verblitz’s CTB Rawrence, he picked it up and scored his second try of the day in right-center. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, putting Verblitz up by a score of the team took a big lead, 5-22.

36 minutes into the first half:

Greenrockets made a series of attacks in their enemy area, but Verblitz’s SO Cronie intercepted the ball. He ran through and scored a try right under the goalposts. After the try, Cronie kicked the conversion goal by himself, and Verblitz’ score was 5-29.

The first half ended with this score.

As predicted before the match, Verblitz, the superior team, scored more points in order. As for Greenrockets the team was able to hold off their opponents’ attacks, but were slowly being pushed forward. However, the attack led by CTB Nemani and Kodama was working. They have the ability to score if they seize attacking opportunities.

Then, the second half began.

8 minutes into the second half: In the first half, the score difference was too big. As for Greenrockets the first goal of the second half was the one they wanted to get. This desire was evident when a scrum near the halfway line led to a Verblitz committed a foul and Greenrockets’ penalty kick was successfully touched almost before the enemy’s goal. From here, Greenrockets had several close attacks continuously.

After some persistence, Greenrockets were able to get the ball from a lineout in the right corner, the FWs pushed forward as one, and succeeded in scoring the first try of the second half in the right center. The conversion goal after the try was unsuccessful, but the score was 10-29.

This try may have been the catalyst for Greenrockets and the team continued to play patiently defensively, although  the game almost became a one-sided affair for Verblitz.  Greenrockets made the game spectacle. The score remained deadlocked until late in the game.

Many of the fans in the audience in the photo above were wearing uniforms from their Top League days, cheering them on. In other words, longtime NEC Greenrockets. It means they are cheering for them. The attendance of this day was 1,902. It was a little sad to see empty seats, but for the passionate fans, go for it!

37 minutes into the second half: Verblitz could not score in  the second half of last week’s game. However, they finally managed to score in the last minutes of the game. Verblitz’   FW players repeatedly attacked in front of the goal, and finally scored a try by No.8 Himeno to the left center. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the game ended 10-36.

After the game, on the bus on the way back home Greenrockets’ fans were heard to say, “I can’t wait to see a winning game.

** Others **

 Greenrockets. While watching the pre-game practice, I noticed an unusual staff member.

The female staff member in the photo, a water attendant, was actively involved in assisting the practice as well as water supply, and even volunteered to join the pre-game circle. I was personally impressed because I had not seen such a scene at any other games.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine