(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.
|Gerhard von den HEEVER
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.
＊＊ 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.
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