RUGBY JERSEY – Japan Rugby Test Match 2022 – Japan Brave Blossoms vs Uruguay Los Teros – Round 2

(Author: Azul, June 30, 2022)

The second Japan Rugby Test Match was held at the Mikuni World Stadium in Kitakyushu, Japan on July 25, 2022. The opponent was the same as last week, Los Teros of Uruguay. This was my first trip to Kitakyushu in a long time.

It was the longest distance I had traveled since last autumn at the Oita DENKO Stadium.

I left my house at 8:00 am.

From Hachioji Station via Tokyo Station to Hamamatsucho Station by train, then I took the monorail and arrived at Haneda Airport at 10:30 a.m.

This time, I took an airplane for the round trip.

We departed from Haneda Airport at 11:15. As I expected, the flight was very fast.

I arrived at Kitakyushu Airport at 12:50.

From Kitakyushu Airport, we took an express bus to Kokura Station, the closest station to the stadium, and boarded the bus at 13:15. On that day, Tokyo was hit by a heat wave with temperatures as high as 36 degrees Celsius. The weather in Kitakyushu, however, was rainy. The temperature was 26 degrees Celsius, which was chilly compared to Tokyo.

I took this express bus to Kokura Station. This was my first visit to Kitakyushu City, which is a big city with a population of about one million. I was a bit surprised.

After about 45 minutes on the bus, we arrived at Kokura Station. It takes about 10 minutes on foot from Kokura to Mikuni Stadium. Today’s game starts at 15:00.

From Kokura station to the stadium, there were many supporters wearing the uniform of the Japan national rugby team.

Of course, I was wearing the same Japan national team jersey as these supporters and headed for the stadium.

Mikuni Stadium is usually used as the home stadium of Girabanz Kitakyushu, a professional soccer team. Finally, the Mikuni Stadium came into view.

The supporters’ style of wearing the same uniforms to cheer for the national team at their matches has taken root from this years’ test match. The fact that you can get a Canterbury Japan jersey for an additional 3,000 yen for a match ticket is having a positive effect.

I finally arrived at Mikuni Stadium. I left home at 8:00 a.m. and arrived at the stadium at 2:15 p.m. My seat was on the fourth floor behind the goal on the south side. It was quite a strenuous schedule.

My preference would have been to sit on the first floor behind the goal in order to take pictures of the game, but I was not allowed to do so. And this is a unique feature of Mikuni Stadium, the stadium is adjacent to the sea.

If you come to the stadium without being aware of the ocean, you will be surprised. Yes, this is Ocean View Stadium. Here, when you are watching a game, you can smell the unique smell of the harbor. I don’t remember seeing any other stadium like this, so it left a strong impression on me.

The photo above is the main stand seen from my seat behind the goal.

The number of visitors on that day was 11,664. I thought it was less than last week’s attendance at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, but the total seating capacity of Mikuni Stadium is 15,300, so the attendance was about 76%. This shows the high expectations that rugby fans in Kyushu have for the Japanese national team.

Now, let me introduce the two teams that would be playing on this day.

First, let me introduce the Brave Blossoms, the home team of Japan national rugby team. First, let’s take a look at the starting lineup.

Brave Blossoms
No.NameheightweightageJapan Caps
1Keita INAGAKI186cm116kg3239
2Atsushi SAKADE180cm104kg2927
3Yusuke KIZU178cm112kg263
4Jack CORNELSEN195cm110kg276
5Warner DEARNS201cm117kg201
6Michael LEITCH189cm113kg720
7Ben GUNTER195cm120kg242
8Faulua MAKISI187m112kg252
9Naoto SAITO165cm73kg246
10Takuya YAMAZAWA176cm84kg273
11Siosaia FIFITA187cm105kg236
12Yusuke KAZIMURA181cm95kg261
13Dylan RILEY187cm102kg254
14Gerhard von den HEEVER192cm102kg330
15Ryuzi Noguchi177cm83kg2613

None of the starting members were in last week’s match against Uruguay. The members up to last week were, in effect, the National Development Scod, which is below the current regular members of the national team. Starting this week, the regular members of the team have appeared.

As a regular member of the Brave Blossoms, they will be expected to do better against the same opponent as last week, the Uruguayan National Team Los Teros.

** Players to watch **

Dylan RILEY. 187 cm, 102 kg, 25 years old. He is from Australia. He was unable to win a professional contract as a teenager when he was a member of the Australian high school national team, but later came to Japan, passed the Panasonic Wild Knights’ entrance exam, and has grown up in Japan. He was named League One’s most prolific try getter and Best Fifteen this season. He has improved by leaps and bounds each season, and has the breakthrough ability and explosive speed necessary to play CTB for the Japanese national team.

Now, let me introduce you to our opponents for this match, the Uruguayan national team, Los Teros. After the defeat in the first test match, the Uruguayan team has chosen a number of experienced veterans for their starting lineup.

No.NameheightweightageUruguay Caps
1Juan ECHEVERIA176cm114kg3043
2Guillermo PUJADAS179cm110kg2519
3Ignacio PECULO191cm123kg235
4Eric DOSANTOS186cm100kg279
5Diego MAGNO188cm105kg3383
6Lucas BIANCHI190cm101kg211
7Santiago CIVETTA184cm102kg3817
8Manuel ARDAO175m95kg2315
9Tomas INCIARTE182m91kg2523
10Felipe ETCHEVERY174cm76kg2512
11Bautista BASSO    0
12Andles VILASECA184cm96kg3167
13Nicolas FREITAS176cm93kg2847
14Juan MANUEL178cm84kg2520
15Rodrigo SILVA183cm88kg2969

** Players to watch **

Felipe ETCHEVERY. 174 cm, 76 kg, 25 years old. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay. He is an utility player who can play multiple positions as a BK and also plays for the Uruguayan national 7-man rugby team. As he showed in the first test match, his wide vision and precise handling of kicks as a SO will be a problem for the Japanese national team in today’s match.

Let the match begin.

4 minutes into the first half:

Both teams were full of spirit as they were playing their second test match against the same opponent. Brave Blossoms were always in control of the game, and when they were close to the goal line, they won a lineout on their own ball. Brave Blossoms caught the ball and moved forward in a maul. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 5-0, with Brave Blossoms scoring first.

8 minutes into the first half:

Los Teros formed a maul in the middle of the field, and from there they moved forward, and they were able to use the experience of last week’s game to their advantage. Los Teros then tried to push deep into the enemy territory, but  Brave Blossoms defense held firm and they were unable to break through. The teams played into a tight battle, where Los Teros was penalized for not releasing the ball. Brave Blossoms opted to go for the PG, and SO Yamasawa made a great shot from almost 50 meters out for the score. SO Yamasawa made the score 8-0.

After this, Brave Blossoms’ SO Yamasawa scored PGs in the 16th and 23rd minutes of the first half. The Blossoms scored in small increments to make the score 14-0.

However, despite the point differential, Los Teros was not overpowered at the point of contact by the FWs. The experienced players who were used in the starting lineup were a force to be reckoned with in this regard. However, Los Teros was able to keep the point difference because of Brave Blossoms players showed their technical prowess and forced Los Teros into. The only reason Los Teros was not able to keep the score close was because Brave Blossoms players showed technical skill at key points and forced Los Teros into penalties.

However, for Brave Blossoms fans, this was not the case.  But Brave Blossoms fans would have liked to see their team dominate the match since they had regular players from the Japanese national team on the field.

38 minutes into the first half:

Los Teros got on the board. When the FWs won the ball from a set piece and deployed it, they just couldn’t gain. Again, this time, they got into enemy territory and deployed to the left side, but the CTB dropped the ball in front of him on the way out. This was the Brave Blossoms’ CTB Kajimura kicked the ball wide into the enemy territory. He kicked the ball wide into the enemy territory. Then Brave Blossoms’ CTB Kajimura, Ryley and WTB van den Heever chased down the ball. Ryley held up the ball at the right edge of the in-goal in the enemy territory for the try. The conversion goal after the try was missed. The score was 19-0.

The first half ended here.

Looking back at the first half of this match, Brave Blossoms’ solid performance was remarkable. Based on their solid defense, they exploited their opponents’ errors and holes in their defense, and scored steadily by inviting opponents’ penalties. There were few dramatic moments that could get the entire stadium excited, but the solid defense showed the world No. 10 ranked team’s greatness. We will have to wait until next week to see if this will translate to the next week’s match against France, the second-ranked team in the world.

The photo above is Renji, the mascot of the Japanese national team, who appeared at halftime.

Let the second half begin.

10 minutes into the second half:

Brave Blossoms did not give up control of the match in the second half, as Los Teros tried to push forward with a series of set pieces and attacks, but Brave Blossoms did not allow any big gains. Brave Blossoms got into the enemy territory, and after the foul by their opponents, they were able to secure the ball from their own lineout just before the enemy goal line. Los Teros pushed back several times, but in the end, Brave Blossoms were able to hold on for the win. Brave Blossoms pushed back several times, but in the end, they were able to force their way into the middle of the enemy’s in-goal on the right flank. Brave Blossoms finally scored a try by the flanker Gunter after a strong effort. After the try, the conversion goal was missed. The score was 24-0.

15 minutes into the second half:

Mikuni Stadium is located next to the sea, so the wind can be strong. In this day’s match, Brave Blossoms had a tailwind in the second half. This meant that the SO Yamasawa of Brave Blossoms kicked a touch kick near the center of the field after a penalty kick for a foul by the opponent, and the ball surprisingly extended into the wind. The Blossoms continued to push forward with a maul, and finally, the ball was pushed to the right by WTB van den Heever. He scored a try in the right corner of the in-goal. After the try, the conversion goal failed. The score was 29-0. Brave Blossoms took a big lead.

20 minutes into the second half:

Brave Blossoms finally started to attack in a flowing sequence. After a long pass from the 22-meter line, Los Teros flanker Civetta was forced to commit an intentional knock-on foul. After deliberation, it was determined that without this foul, it would have been a Brave Blossoms’ try. The try was awarded to the Brave Blossoms. The score was 36-0.

Second half, 23 minutes:.

Los Teros fought for the ball on the kickoff after a try. The Brave Blossoms took the ball deep into enemy territory on a penalty kick. They went deep into the enemy territory with a penalty kick. After a lineout, the Brave Blossoms’ No. 8 Makisi made a clean break through the Los Teros defense, and CTB Kajimura followed it up with a try right in the middle of the enemy’s in-goal. The loudest cheer of the match went up to the crowd. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 43-0.

34 minutes into the second half:

Los Teros’ performance on this day was not so much, but  they were outclassed by the Brave Blossoms’ organized defense and attack. Los Teros’ individual penetration when they were close to the goal was never less than impressive. In a series of attacks in front of the goal, the FW players attacked on the flanks, and in the end, No. 8 Ardao scored a try with a powerful move in the in-goal in the middle of the enemy line on the right side. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 43-7.

The score was 43-7, but Los Teros put on a show in the end, and received a big applause from the crowd that day.

The score remained the same, and the match ended with Japan’s second consecutive win in the two test matches between Japan and Uruguay. The regular members of the Japan national team will play two consecutive matches against the European champions, France, starting next week. This will be the first time since 1984 that the French team will be in Japan, except for the RWC 2019. What kind of game will they show us?

** Jersey Collection 60  **

Rugby Jersey of the American Eagles, the United States national rugby team. Estimated to be from around 1987. This reminds me of the first Rugby World Cup in 1987. This is the First Jersey, but the Japanese national team lost to the team wearing the Second Jersey (white). They missed a lot of PGs, and they lost the game they were supposed to lose.

I got this jersey new and used for 4,000 yen on Mercari.

The jersey is thick and can be just the right amount of warmth to wear in the fall.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


RUGBY JERSEY – Japan Rugby Test Match 2022 – Japan Brave Blossoms, Japan vs Los Teros, Uruguay

(Author: Azul, June 22, 2022)

The Japan Rugby 2022 National Team Test Match will be held for four consecutive weeks from June 18, 2022.

The first match against the Uruguayan team, Los Teros, was held at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground in Minato-ku, Tokyo.

The match started at 15:00 on this day. Fortunately, the weather was cloudy and the temperature was around 26 degrees Celsius, very comfortable for this time of the year. I watched the game from a standing-room-only seat behind the goal posts on the north side of the field. These are the cheapest seats, Category 4. However, tickets for Japan’s national team games are expensive. Even Category 4 tickets cost 4,000 yen. Moreover, since they were unreserved seats, I had to be there two hours before kickoff to get a good seat, so I ran to get a seat as soon as the gates opened.

Well, as you can see in the photo above, this is the atmosphere of the standing room. Thanks to my haste to get a seat, I was able to secure a front row seat. The best position to take pictures is in the front row behind the goal.

By the way, the ticket price for the seats in the main stand is 16,000 yen. The number of visitors on that day was 14,448.

The Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium has a capacity of 24,871 when fully occupied, so the attendance rate was about 60%. With an average admission fee of 10,000 yen, the teams would be able to operate in the black if 10,000 people showed up for every game, but it will take a little more time to reach that point.

What surprised me at the game was that most of the spectators were wearing the uniforms of the Japanese national team.

This was a bit surprising. The atmosphere was full of support for the Japanese national team. The future of the national team looked a little brighter.

** Jersey Collection 59  **

I finally got a Japan national team jersey. The tickets for this test match were sold with the jersey included. I didn’t expect the quality of the jersey to be as good as it was, since it was only 3,000 yen. Because the jerseys sold during the 2019 WRC ranged from 10,000 yen to over 50,000 yen.

However, this jersey is brand new with a regular price of 10,000 yen, so it is a good value.

In case you are wondering, the same jersey was sold at the stadium concession stand on the day of the event, and the price was 7,500 yen.

This Japan national team jersey sold so explosively that it is now the best-selling jersey in Japan. (Second place goes to the All Blacks jersey, a Canterbury product.)

Now, back to the match.

This will be the first time that a test match will be held in Japan since last October against Australia in Oita.

Before the match began, the national anthems of both countries were sung.

The mood of combat was heightened by the fact that this was a battle between two countries’ national anthems.

Now, let me introduce the two teams that played on this day.

First up is the home team, the Brave Brossoms of Japan. The Japanese team is ranked 10th in the world.

Today’s lineup is almost the same as last week’s match against Tonga. Many of the players will be getting their first caps for the national team in this match. From this point on, the national team candidates will be selected and the final Japanese players for the 2023 RWC will be decided.

Today’s starting lineup is as follows

Brave Blossoms
No.NameheightweightageJapan Caps
1Shogo Miura180cm113kg267
2Kosuke Horikoshi175cm100kg274
3Shunsuke Asaoka185cm121kg250
4Wimpie Vanderwalt188cm112kg3318
5Yuya Odo187cm104kg314
6Koji Iino190cm110kg270
7Hiroki Yamamoto187cm95kg295
8Tevita Tatafu183m124kg269
9Takahiro Ogawa170cm77kg302
10Yu Tamura181cm92kg3368
11Koga Nezuka173cm82kg230
12Timothy Lafaele186cm96kg3027
13Shane Gates183cm95kg291
14Koki Takeyama175cm84kg250
15Seiya Ozaki175cm85kg263

** Notable Players **

Tevita Tatafu. 183 cm, 124 kg, 26 years old. He is from Tonga, a member of Suntory Sungoliath. He has been a member of the Japan national team since last year’s tour of Europe. His ability to rush and accelerate when he has the ball is outstanding even when viewed internationally. With more experience in international competitions, he can continue to develop.

Next, I would like to introduce the visiting team, Los Teros, representing Uruguay. The Uruguayan national team is ranked 19th in the world, and qualified for the 2023 RWC by winning the U.S. regional qualifying round. In South America, the Uruguayan team is in the second position comparing to Argentina’s Los Pumas.

Most of the players on this year’s team are members of their home club team, Penarol. The team is characterized by the tight-knit teamwork among the players.

The starting lineup for today’s match is as follows:

No.NameheightweightageUruguay Caps
1Mateo Perillo183cm119kg211
2Guillermo Pujadas179cm110kg2518
3Ignacio Peculo191cm123kg234
4Eric Dosantos186cm100kg278
5Carlos Deus188cm103kg200
6Lucas Bianchi190cm101kg210
7Santiago Civetta184cm102kg3816
8Manuel Ardao175m95kg2314
9Tomas Inciarte182m91kg2522
10Felipe Etcheverry174cm76kg2511
11Baltazar Amaya184cm901kg231
12Andles Vilaseca184cm96kg3166
13Nicolas Freitas176cm93kg2846
14Mateo Vinals181cm84kg231
15Rodrigo Silva183cm88kg2968

 ** Players to watch **

Nicolas Freitas, 176 cm, 93 kg, 28 years old. He has a Uruguayan national team cap 46. He was the first Uruguayan to sign a professional contract with SUPER RUGBY powerhouse Jaguares. He was also a key player in the RWC match against Fiji, where he was especially noted for his high defensive abilities. As a captain, he leads the current Uruguayan national team, which is composed mainly of young players.

Now, let’s start the match.

Looking at the starting lineup, the members of the Uruguayan national team are younger than expected, with an average age of 24. Compared to the Argentina national team, which is also from South America, there are fewer tall players. This would give the Japanese team an advantage in set pieces.

10 minutes into the first half:

Brave Blossoms were able to secure their own ball in the first scrum and lineout.

However, Brave Blossoms were unable to convert their FW dominance into points. In front of the goal line, the FW repeated side attacks but without success.

Brave Blossoms steadily secured the ball from their own lineout at the right end near the goal line, which was obtained from a foul by the opposing team. From there, the ball was spread out to the left and finally passed to WTB  Nezuka, who was waiting on the left edge of the field. Nezuka dragged one man over the line and scored a try in the in-goal at the left corner. After the try, the conversion goal failed. The score was 5-0 and Brave Blossoms scored first.

16 minutes into the first half:

Brave Blossoms chose to go for the PG after their opponents committed an foul at the 10-meter line in front of the goal. The SO Tamura scored and added 3 more points. The score was 8-0.

Los Teros also impressed me with their kicking skills, as they seem to be used to kicking each other. Uruguay is indeed a great soccer country.

Los Teros’ continuous attack in front of the enemy goal from the 30th to the 35th minute of the first half was very powerful. There were many occasions when a try could have been scored.

35 minutes into the first half:

Los Teros chose to go for the PG, which the SO Etchevery converted. The score was 8-3 and Los Teros was within 5 points.

39 minutes into the first half:

Brave Blossoms pushed hard from a scrum in the middle of the field, forcing Brave Blossoms pushed hard and drew a foul on their opponents. Brave Blossoms won the ball from a lineout on the right edge of the field and won the ball from a lineout on the far right and moved it to the left, where No. 8 Tatafu received the ball. and accelerated straight ahead. Tatafu easily scored a try right under the goal posts.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 15-3. The first half ended here.

Brave Blossoms’ Tatafu, weighing 127 kg, was able to accelerate after receiving the ball. He was unmatched by the opposing defense. Furthermore, once he gets into top speed, he is unstoppable in a one-on-one match, making him a troublesome player for the opposing team.

Here we are at halftime. How will both teams regroup for the second half?

Now, let’s start the second half.

Early in the second half, Los Teros got into enemy territory. The BK players are passing the ball well, and are getting close to the goal line.

3 minutes into the second half:

Brave Blossoms kicked the ball back from deep in their own territory, and the backs chased it well, putting pressure on the opposition players to get it out. Brave Blossoms got a lineout from the right edge of the enemy 22m line. The Flanker Yamamoto received the ball, got behind the enemy line defense, and then ran to the goal line and passed the ball to the Hooker Horikoshi, who followed up on the ball. He continued to run and scored a try at the right side of the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 22-3.

17 minutes into the second half

Both teams tried to advance with kicks. After several kicks were exchanged, Blave Blossoms WTB Nezuka’s kick was fouled by a Blave Blossoms player who was in an offside position. Los Teros won the ball here and their FW made a series of attacks towards the goal line. Los Teros easily escaped the enemy defense with their second side-attack and finally scored a try by Manu, who was substituted midway through the game. The conversion goal after the try was missed.

23 minutes into the second half.

Blave Blossoms made a big gain as they were closing in on the goal line when their opponents committed an foul. From the lineout, Blave Blossoms were able to maul their way forward, and the Hooker Hino was able to hold the ball in the middle left of the in-goal for the try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 29-8, giving Blave Blossoms a 21-point lead.

31 minutes into the second half.

Blave Blossoms made a strong start to the second half, with WTB Nezuka receiving the ball from near the halfway line and breaking through the opposing team’s defense. The defender stopped him just in time. However, an foul by Los Teros resulted in a lineout, and once again a maul was formed to push forward. The maul was broken up, but Blave Blossoms’ Hooker Hino broke through the crowd and scored a try in the left corner of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 34-8.

36 minutes into the second half:

With time running out, Los Teros came together as a team and attacked boldly in an attempt to get one last shot at the game. Several chances for tries were denied by Blave Blossoms defense. However, Los Teros was able to get on from near the 22-meter line. The SH Albareth of Los Teros broke away the defense line and went close to the goal line. No.8 Ardao followed up and scored a try at the center of the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 34-15.

Los Teros was a young team this time, but the veterans who came on in the second half did a remarkable job, and we look forward to an interesting second test match in a week.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


RUGBY JERSEY~Japan Rugby Charity Match 2022~Emerging Blossoms vs Tonga Samurai Fifteen

(Author: Azul, June 5, 2022)

Starting June 11, 2022, Japan’s national team will play five consecutive weeks of matches until July 9, 2022. The schedule of the matches are as follows

* 6/11  Japan Selected Team vs. Tonga Selected Team

(Venue: Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground, Tokyo)

*6/18  Japan vs Uruguay

(Venue: Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground, Tokyo)

* 6/25 Japan vs Uruguay

(Venue: Mikuni World Stadium, Kitakyushu-city, Fukuoka)

*7/2  Japan vs France

(Venue: Toyota Stadium, Toyota City, Aichi Pref.)

*7/9  Japan vs France

 (Venue: National Stadium, Tokyo)

On June 11, 2022, the first match was held at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Minato-ku, Tokyo. The Kanto area is currently in the rainy season, but fortunately the weather on this day was cloudy.

Today’s match was not an official test match, so the Japan Selected Players will not be given a national cap. However, today’s match is actually the start of the selection process for the RWC 2023 in France, so it is an important match for the players who are aiming for the national team.

The attendance on the day of the match was 8,055, which was not bad.

Another purpose of today’s match is to support the reconstruction of the Kingdom of Tonga, which was damaged by the eruption of an undersea volcano early in 2022. As you can see from the current lineup of Japan’s national team, players from Tonga now form the core of the national team’s strength.

The Japan Rugby League One teams are now made up of players from many different nationalities, but the largest number of players are from Tonga. Tongan students are now playing an active role in Japanese high schools and universities.

Prior to today’s game, the Tongan Ambassador to Japan gave a speech.

The national anthems of both countries were then sung.

The atmosphere at the venue today was appropriate for a representative match.

Personally, I was curious what uniforms both teams would be wearing today.

The Japan Selected Team wore gray and white team uniforms.

The photo above is WTB Takeyama of the Japan Selected Team. The company that produced the uniforms was CANTERBURY.

And the uniform of the Tonga Selected Team

The uniform is composed of two colors, red and white. The production company is MIZUNO, a Japanese company. The photo above is SH Hitora, the only Japanese player called up to the Tongan team. He was called up because there was only one SH in the Tongan selection team. We hope he will take this as an opportunity to do his best.

Before the start of the match, Ikale Tahi, Tonga’s War Cry, was performed.

It lifted the mood before the match started.

Now, let me introduce both teams.

First, let me introduce the home team, the Japan Selected Team, also known as the Emerging Blossoms.

The current Japan team has two levels: the first level players are currently in Miyazaki Prefecture for a training camp. The players who participated in the match today are the so-called second team players. The Rugby Association of Japan calls these players the National Development Scod. They are the reserves, so to speak. Some of them will be given a chance to be promoted based on the results of the matches on June 11 and 18.

The starting lineup is as follows.

Emerging Blossoms
1Shogo Miura180cm113kg26TOYOTA Verblitz
2Kosuke Horikoshi175cm100kg27SUNTORY Sungoliath
3Shunsuke Asaoka185cm121kg25TOYOTA Verblitz
4Wimpie Vanderwalt188cm112kg33Red Hurricanes
5Takayasu Tsuji190cm113kg26SUNTORY Sungoliath
6Sione Lavemai189cm120kg27Brave Lupas
7Naoto Shimada181cm99kg31Yokohama Eagles
8Tevita Tatafu183m124kg26SUNTORY Sungoliath
9Kaino Shigeno170cm75kg31TOYOTA Verblitz
10Yu Tamura181cm92kg33Yokohama Eagles
11Koga Nezuka173cm82kg23KUBOTA Spears
12Harumichi Tatekawa180cm93kg32KUBOTA Spears
13Timothy Lafaele186cm96kg30Kobe Steelers
14Koki Takeyama175cm84kg25Panasonic Wild Knights
15Seiya Ozaki175cm85kg26SUNTORY Sungoliath

** Players to watch **

Nezuka Koga 173 cm, 82 kg, 23 years old. Position = WTB. He belongs to KUBOTA Spears. He won the Rookie of the Year Award and the Best Line-Braker Award in League One this season. He is a graduate of Hosei University, but at that time, he played mostly at CTB and FB. I hope that he will continue to play an active role and be selected for the Japan national team.

Next, I would like to introduce the Tongan Selected Team, the Visitor. The members of this team were selected earlier than the Japanese team, and they have been preparing for this day’s game through training camps.

The members of Tonga Samurai 15 have been the mainstay of each team in League One until just a few days ago. Their potential is not to be underestimated. The Japanese team is expected to have a hard time in this match, especially in terms of their ability to break through. Here is an introduction of the starting lineup for the day.

1Ishileli Nakajima186cm120kg32Kobe Steelers
2Nesta Mahina167cm110kg21Hanazono Liners
3Sila Puafisi185cm135kg34Hanazono Liners
4Talau Fakatava194cm118kg27Black Rams
5Esei Haangana198cm120kg22Panasonic Wild Knights
6Viliami Afu Kaipouli189cm115kg24HONDA Heats
7Sione Vatuvei190cm105kg38KUBOTA Spears
8Lui Naeata193m119kg27Red Hurricanes
9Shinnosuke Oka Tafokitau173m81kg28Scrum Human Power
10Lomano Lava Lemeki178cm96kg32NEC Green Rockets
11Michael Toloke183cm101kg31Munakata Sanix Blues
12Mifiposeti Paea180cm109kg34Red Hurricanes
13Silivenusi Taumoepeau181cm89kg36Shuttles Aichi
14Kruger Latu186cm97kg26Sagamihara Dynaboars
15Larry Sulunga183cm102kg23Red Hurricanes

** Players to watch **

Silivenusi Taumoepeau. 181cm, 89kg, 36 years old. He has played for many Japanese teams, including TOYOTA Verblitz, KINTETSU Liners and Aichi Shuttles. He has 1cap of Tonga national team and was selected for the Top League All-Star team. We hope he will continue to play an active role as a bridge between Japan and Tonga. His soft smile is impressive, but he is a hard contact player.

Let the game begin.

Eight minutes into the first half.

Tonga Samuri 15 had a strong defense in front of their own in-goal, and Emerging Blossoms’ BK made few mistakes in signing plays. The score came when the Japanese team dropped the ball in front of the enemy goal line, which was picked up by Emerging Blossoms’ lock Vanderwalt and advanced. The SO Tamura of the Emerging Blossoms ran in the opposite direction. Vanderwalt then deftly passed the ball to Tamura, who received the ball and dodged two enemy defenders, and scored an in-goal try right in the middle of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the Emerging Blossoms took a 7-0 lead.

23 minutes into the first half:

Looking back at the most recent test match between Japan and Tonga, it was a complete victory by a surprisingly large margin. Tonga Samurai 15 was a team with few turn overs, but they were almost evenly matched except for the scrums at set pieces and in close quarters battles.

Tonga’s first scoring opportunity came from a series of attacks in enemy territory, with a short pass from the prop Nakajima to the lock Haangana, who got behind the enemy defense and scored a try in the center of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was tied 7-7.

26 minutes into the first half:

The Emerging Blossoms attacked the goal line in front of the enemy goal. Tonga Samurai 15 straddled the goal line and formed a ruck. Emerging Blossoms’ SH Shigeno, who had been watching the situation closely, skillfully held the ball as it went into the in-goal. This allowed the Emerging Blossoms to score a try. The conversion goal after the try was missed. The score was now 12-7, a 5-point lead for Emerging Blossoms. SH Shigeno’s calm assessment of the situation was excellent.

36 minutes into the first half:

The Emerging Blossoms were pushed to their own 22m line, but the ball spilled out of their hands of Tonga Samurai 15 and Blossoms counter-attacked. The CTB Lafaele of the Blossoms made a big gain, and then six players connected to bring the ball almost to the goal line of the enemy territory.

However, the Tonga Samurai 15 did a great job of getting back deep into their own territory and preventing the attack.

But after that, The Tonga Samurai 15 then committed an offsides foul, and from a lineout the Emerging Blossoms were able to maul the Tonga Samurai 15. The hooker Horikoshi of the Blossoms scored a try in the middle of the left field. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 17-7, the Emerging Blossoms had a 10-point lead.

The first half ended with this score. This match was better than expected. Above all, Tonga Samurai 15’s concentration on this match was excellent.

We were lucky to be able to watch the game in pleasant weather. After halftime, we expected to have good game in the second half.

Let the second half begin.

Three minutes into the second half:

Right at the start, the Emerging Blossoms started the second half by using the ground as wide as possible to avoid contact without making contact. However, on this day, Tonga Samurai 15 defended very well. Even when the Emerging Blossoms got behind their own defensive net, they were not allowed to score easily. Emerging Blossoms could not easily score even if they got behind the enemy defensive net. Finally, the Emerging Blossoms swung wide left and right. The WTB Takeyama of the Blossoms scored a try in the right corner. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the Emerging Blossoms went up by 17 points, 24-7.

However, from this point on, both teams changed a lot of players, and perhaps this had an effect on the score.

25 minutes into the second half:

The Emerging Blossoms scored through a spread attack, while Tonga Samurai 15 repeated side attacks in front of the enemy goal. Once they scored a try in the left center, but it was cancelled out by the TMO. Shortly after, however, Tonga Samurai 15 drew an infringement in enemy territory and opted for a lineout from a penalty kick, which the Prop Harasiri of Tonga Samurai 15 caught and scored a try in the right-center. Harasiri was able to outflank more than six Emerging Blossoms players to score an amazing try. The conversion goal after the try was missed. The score was 24-12 and Tonga Samurai 15 was up by 12 points.

34 minutes into the second half

The No.8 Tatafu, a member of the Emerging Blossoms, was in the starting lineup for this match and showed no signs of fatigue in the final minutes of the match. He made a series of gains at the crucial point of contact, and when he crossed the enemy 22-meter line, he fended off more than five strong Tongan players and scored a try right in the middle of the field with individual skill. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the Emerging Blossoms made the score 31-12. The score was 31-12.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


RUGBY JERSEY – Japan Rugby League One 2022 Play-offs Final – Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath vs Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights

(Author: Azul, June 7, 2022)

Japan Rugby League One, which started on January 8, 2022, finally reached its final match on May 29.

During the week, there were several big matches before the finals, so let us report the results first.

The Division 1 and Division 2 matchups held at Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka on Friday, May 27 and on Saturday, May 28 were as follows.

(1) Mie Honda HEAT vs NEC Green Rockets

The HEAT won the 2nd match at the score 24-22, however lost the 1st match at the score 10-33.

The Green Rockets was superior to the HEAT on its total winning points. Unfortunately, the HEAT could not move up to Division 1.

(2) Sagamihara Dynaboars vs NTT Shining Arcs

Dynaboars won this match 33-19. As a result, Dynaboars won two straight games in the replacement round, so they will be promoted to Division 1 next season. The Shining Arcs will be relegated to Division 2 next season.

(3) The 3rd Place play-off of League One was held on Saturday, May 28. 

Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay vs Toshiba Brave Lupas Tokyo

Spears won this match 23-15 and placed 3rd. Brave Lupas finished in 4th place.

The final match of the season for League One will be held on May 29 in Tokyo.

The game started at 3:00 p.m., but the temperature was 31 degrees Celsius, which was the temperature of mid-summer. This was the first time this season that the National Stadium was used for League One. Originally, the opening match was scheduled to be held on January 7 at the National Stadium, but it was cancelled due to the fact that many of the participating players became infected with the new Corona. Finally, we are now able to watch the League One games at the National Stadium.

Spectators no longer had to take Social Distance, but were required to wear masks. The attendance that day was 33,604. At first, I thought it would be a full house, but the new National Stadium has a capacity of 68,000, so that means it was almost 50% full. Next season, I hope to fill the stadium.

Now, let me introduce the two teams that made it to the finals.

First, Sungoliath, who came in the first in League One.  They have an overall record of 14 wins and 2 losses in League One. The Sungoliath is the team that has won the first place in League One. The Sungoliath was defeated by the Brave Lupas and the Wild Knights. The Sungoliath will be looking for revenge against the Wild Knights, the team they lost to in the league.

Let’s take a look at the starting members of the final.

Suntory Sungoliath
1Shintaro Ishihara181cm105kg31Japan 11cap
2Takuya Kitade180cm102kg29Japan 1cap
3Shinnosuke Kakinaga180cm115kg30Japan 10cap
4Tui Hendrik188cm110kg26Japan 47cap
5Wataru Kobayashi195cm116kg27 
6Iino Koji190cm110kg27 
7Naoki Ozawa182cm102kg33Japan 4cap
8Tom Sanders190m110kg28 
9Yutaka Nagare166cm75kg29Japan 27cap
10Hikaru Tamura175cm80kg28 
11Tevita Li182cm95kg27 
12Ryoto Nakamura181cm92kg30Japan 30cap
13Samu Kerevi186cm106kg28Australia 38cap
14Seiya Ozaki175cm85kg26Japan 3cap
15Damian Mckenzie177cm78kg27New Zealand  40cap

** Players to watch out for **

Damian Mckenzie, 177cm, 78kg, position = FB. He is a hero of New Zealand with 40 caps for New Zealand. He was also the leading scorer in League One this season. He plays a decisive role in the critical phases of the game.

Next, we would like to introduce Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights, who are aiming for the championship for the second year in a row.

In the league this season, the team lost two games in a row from the opening match due to a new type of corona infection in the team. However, the team then went on a 14-game undefeated streak to advance to the playoffs in second place. In the league, they played with the Sungoliath in the seventh round and won outright with a score of 34-17. They were looking to win back-to-back league titles following last season.

The starting lineup for this final match is as follows

Panasonic Wild Nights
1Keita Inagaki186cm116kg31Japan 39cap
2Atsushi Sakade180cm104kg28Japan 27cap
3Taiki Fujii183cm114kg24 
4Jack Cornelsen195cm110kg27Japan 6cap
5George Kruis198cm123kg32England 32cap
6Ben Gunter195cm120kg24Japan 2cap
7Lachlan Boshier191cm104kg27 
8Shunsuke Nunomaki178cm78kg29Japan 6cap
9Keisuke Uchida179cm86kg30Japan 22cap
10Takuya Yamasawa176cm84kg27Japan 3cap
11Marika Koroibete182cm96kg29Australia 42cap
12Hadleigh Parkes187cm107kg34Wales 29cap
13Dylan Riley187cm102kg25Japan 4cap
14Koki Takeyama175cm84kg25 
15Ryuji Noguchi177cm83kg26Japan 13cap

** Players to watch out for **

Shota Horie Shota Horie is 35 years old, 180 cm, 105 kg. Position = Hooker. This season, he has often played as an impact player in the second half. He has the tactical acumen and skill to turn the tide when his team is down. Though he is 35 years old, he is showing the best performance of his career. He is also expected to be a key player in Japan’s national team at next year’s RWC.

Now, let the final match begin.

This match was called “the strongest spear” versus “the strongest shield,” as one sports newspaper put it. The “strongest spear” refers to the Sungoliath’s offensive prowess, while the “strongest shield” refers to the Wild Knights’ iron-clad defense.

Six minutes into the first half:

From the start of the match, both sides kicked each other, and before RWC2019, the Japanese national team was not good at handling these kicks, often giving up tries to their opponents from counter-attacks when they kicked in. Today, however, the kicking tactic has spread to all teams in League One. This is a sign of the evolution of Japanese rugby.

The Sungoliath entered the enemy territory and came very close to scoring a try, but were repeatedly blocked by the Wild Knights. After a foul by the Wild Knights in front of the goal posts, the Sungoliath opted to go for the PG, which FB Mckenzie converted to give Sungoliath the lead. Sungoliath scored first. The score was 3-0.

11 minutes into the first half:

The Wild Knights were in the enemy territory, and the ball was played to the right by WTB Takeyama. Takeyama received the ball in the right corner. He ran behind the enemy defense and kicked the ball forward. The Wild Knights’ SH Uchida then held up the ball in the in-goal to score a try.

However, a video review revealed a throw forward infringement by the Wild Knights, and the try was called off.

14 minutes into the first half:

The Wild Knights were just entering enemy territory when a scrum led to an infringement by the opposing team, giving them the right to go up for a PG. This was scored by the Wild Knights’ SO Yamasawa, tying the score at 3-3. It was a difficult PG with a distance of about 50 meters.

27 minutes in the first half:

The Wild Knights were able to score again in the second half.

On this day, the Wild Knights looked more powerful in attack than in the league. Once they gained the right to attack, they made steady progress with a series of attacks. After a series of attacks, the Wild Knights moved to the left, and FB Noguchi made a big gain. Noguchi passed to WTB Koroibete, who scored a try in the middle of the right field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 3-10 in favor of the Wild Knights.

31 minutes into the first half:

The Wild Knights attacked again and the Sungoliath was unable to stop the Wild Knights attack, and the ball was passed to Koroibete again, who scored another try in the middle of the right field .

However, a video review revealed that the Wild Knights had committed a knock-on infringement and the try was cancelled.

39 minutes into the first half:

The Sungoliath came close to scoring a try in the closing minutes of the first half. Five meters before the goal line, Sungoliath FB Mckenzie picked up the ball and dived into the opposition in-goal. However, the Wild Knights’ SO Yamasawa got his hands on the ball and Mckenzie dropped the ball just before the try. The Wild Knights’ Yamasawa’s play was worth it. The Wild Knights were able to end the first half with a 7-point lead.

The second half began.

Six minutes into the second half:

The Wild Knights replaced their hooker with Horie. This allowed the Wild Knights to take a lead over Sungoliath.

12 minutes into the second half:

The Wild Knights were fouled in a tight battle in their own half. FB Mckenzie of the Sungoliath scored a difficult PG from 45m long and an angle in the right center of the field. The score was 6-10 and Sungoliath closed the gap to 4 points.

17 minutes into the second half:

The Sungoliath went on the offensive and made a series of attacks in enemy territory, and the Wild Knights were fouled deep in their own territory, giving up a PG to the Sungoliath. The Sungoliath FB Mckenzie scored to make the score 9-10, and Sungoliath finally pulled within one point.

24 minutes into the second half:.

The Wild Knights attacked into enemy territory and quickly  the Wild Knights’ SO Yamasawa scored to make the score 9-13.

26 minutes into the Second Half:

The Sungoliath was able to get into the enemy territory when they drew a foul of their opponents in a tight battle and selected to go for the PG. FB Mckenzie of the Sungoliath scored to make the score 12-13, again within one point.

The game was now in a stalemate as both sides traded PGs. Mckenzie of the Sungoliath had been successful in 100% of their PG attempts to this point.

32 minutes into the second half:

The Wild Knights were somewhat pushed by Sungoliath in a dense battle for a while until late in the game. Finally, from a right-handed deployment, Wild Knights’ CTB Riley pushed with great force and scored a try in the middle of the right field. A conversion goal after the try was missed, and the Wild Knights made the score 12-18.

The score remained unchanged, and Wild Knights became the first League One champion. The Sungoliath had a couple of decisive chances, but in the end, the victory went to Wild Knights.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine