RUGBY JERSEY~Japan Rugby Test Match 2022~Japan Brave Blossoms VS France Les Bleus~ Round 2

(Author: Azul, July 16, 2022)

One week after the first test match between Japan and France on July 2, 2022, the second test match was held at the National Stadium in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

The temperature was a summer-like 31 degrees Celsius. It was not the murderous heat of last week’s match at Toyota Stadium. There was a slightly cool breeze, and it was cooler in the shade. However, if you stayed in the sun, it was still quite hot, and if you did not take proper precautions, you might suffer from heat stroke.

The Japan Rugby Union announced in advance that more than 50,000 advance tickets had already been sold, making it the largest attendance in Japan’s Test Match history. This means that this year’s Test Match has finally regained the same level of popularity as the RWC in its final round.

The photo above shows the Japan Olympic Museum near the National Stadium. It is located between the National Stadium and the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, and is a good place to meet up.

Today’s game will start at 14:50. Unfortunately, I have never seen the Japanese national team beat a higher-ranked country in a match I have watched. Will this day’s match put an end to that record?

On this day, I entered the stadium one hour before the game started. Based on my experience at Toyota Stadium last week, I took a seat behind the goal on the north side this time. However, it turned out to be a mistake. The National Stadium was still exposed to direct sunlight at this time. We should have chosen the south goal back, which was shaded by the sun.

First, let’s start with the home team, the Brave Blossoms of Japan. The starting lineup is as follows.

Brave Blossoms
No.NameheightweightageJapan Caps
1Keita INAGAKI186cm116kg3241
2Atsushi SAKADE180cm104kg2929
3Asaeri Ai VALU178cm112kg265
4Warner DEARNS201cm117kg203
5Sanaila WAQA202cm120kg252
6Michael LEITCH189cm113kg3374
7Ben GUNTER195cm120kg244
8Jack CORNELSEN195cm110kg278
9Naoto SAITO165cm73kg247
10Seungshin LEE176cm85kg212
11Siosaia FIFITA187cm105kg238
12Shogo NAKANO186cm98kg255
13Dylan RILEY187cm102kg256
14Gerhard von den HEEVER192cm102kg332
15Ryohei Yamanaka188cm98kg3323

The changes from last week’s first test match are

Rock DEARNS and WAQA are in the starting lineup. Both of them are over 2 meters tall. They surpassed the French team in height.

This is quite reliable.

And SAITO came in at SH. SAITO was a starter in the game against the Uruguayan national team, but he was absent last week due to a positive test for the new strain of corona. With SAITO in the team, we will be able to see Brave Blossoms’ strength, which is their quick succession of attacks.

** Players to watch out for **

Ryohei Yamanaka is 188 cm, 98 kg. 33 years old. He is a FB who boasts international standards in both size and speed. He was a SO in his high school and  university, so he also has good vision in the game. One drawback is that his form is a bit erratic. If he could increase the certainty of his play during games, he could become a great player unrivaled by any other.

Next up is Les Bleus, the French representative on the Visitor Team.

This day’s starting lineup was as follows.

No.NameheightweightageFrance Caps
1Jean-Baptiste GROS185cm110kg2320
2Peato MAUVAKA184cm116kg2415
3Demba BAMBA185cm118kg2424
4 Thibaud FLAMENT197cm114kg258
5Thomas JOLMES203cm127kg261
6 Dylan CRETIN195cm102kg2519
7Charles OLLIVON199cm114kg2924
8 Yoan TANGA186m107kg251
9Maxime LUCU177m79kg288
10 Matthieu JALIBERT184cm84kg2716
11Matice LEBEL184cm104kg233
12 Yoram MOEFANA182cm95kg227
13 Virimi VAKATAWA185cm100kg3031
14Damian PENAUD188cm93kg2533
15Max SPRING174cm76kg210

The starting lineup is the same as in the first test, except for SPRING, the FB. What will Les Bleus show in today’s match? Will they push around with their powerful FWs, or will they show their ability to develop their attack in a variety of ways?

** Players to watch **

Damian PENAUD, 188 cm, 93 kg, 25 years old. This year’s French national team was made up mainly of young and inexperienced players. However, PENAUD is the ace of the French BK players, boasting Cap 33 at the age of 25. As his record shows, he is a decisive player who is difficult to stop when free or in one-on-one situations.

Let the match begin.

9 minutes into the first half:

After conceding the first score in the first test match last week, Brave Blossoms wanted to score first in today’s match. From the start of the match, the two teams went back-and-forth. After a few minutes, SO JALIBERT kicked the ball to the right end where no Blossoms players were present. Ymanaka caught up to him, but he was too busy holding the ball himself to get it out. This was an exquisite touch kick, and Les Blues had a lineout of their own ball at the right edge of the enemy in-goal. The Bleus won it and moved left to WTB LEBEL on the left edge of the in-goal. Both WTBs of Les Bleus were decisive. The conversion goal after the try was successful, making the score 0-7, and France took the lead again in the second test match.

12 minutes into the first half:

From a scrum after Les Bleus kicked off, SO JALIBERT kicked deep into the enemy territory. From here, the Blossoms launched a counter attack. The ball went from WTB to FB to CTB to CTB→WTB→WTB→FB, and finally FB YAMANAKA received the ball and got a try at the left center of in-goal of the enemy territory. The crowd of 57,000 people was screaming with excitement. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 5-7.

The score was 5-7. It was a great attack, typical of the Blossoms.

18 minutes into the first half.

The Blossoms continued their offensive attack after this. Unlike in the first test match, the Blossoms mixed their attack with kicks. After several kicking exchanges between the two teams, the Blossoms’ WTB von den HEEVER counter-attacked deep to the right of his own half and dodged some enemy players, then kicked the ball deep into the opposite side. Les Bleus barely escaped with a touch kick from their own in-goal. The Blossoms continued to attack, and from a lineout, they made a series of attacks in front of their own in-goal. The Blossoms’ SO LEE took the penalty kick and made the score 8-7.

As a side note, Mr. Adamson of the Scottish Association was the referee for this match. He was a very strict referee, and both teams were given many Not Straight penalties at the lineout. It was difficult to deal with these infractions in the match, as they could change the tide of the match.

40 minutes of the first half:

The Blossoms had another sparkling attack in the closing minutes of the first half.

As Les Bleus entered the enemy territory, they deployed to the right and the ball was passed to WTB PENAUD, their trump card on the right edge of the field. Blossoms FB YAMANAKA was on the mark. He was once untackled, but he was able to chase down PENAUD was pushed off the sideline. The Blossoms attacked from the own ball lineout. The ball came out of the cluster and flowed from SO → FB → Hooker → CTB → Right flanker → Left flanker → FB. And finally FB YAMANAKA received the ball at the last moment and ran around the center of the enemy’s in-goal to score a try.

During the entire attack, the stadium was filled with the screams of the crowd.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 15-7. The Blossoms ended the first half in the best possible way.

Here we are at halftime. Looking back at the first half, Brave Blossoms have been refining their attacking shape for this match. They scored two tries from brilliant passing and sent the crowd into a frenzy. One set piece that was not so well executed was the lineout. We had two 2-meter jumpers in our lineup, but this was a waste of their talent. At the very least, I would like to see the teams secure 100% of the ball in their own lineouts.

Both teams will make sure to make corrections at halftime, and we look forward to a good game in the second half.

Let’s get the second half underway.

4 minutes into the second half:

A great Blossoms started the second half with a series of good tackles and Les Bleus started the game with sharp counter attacks. The Blossoms were then penalized for offsides deep in their own territory. Les Bleus then chose to go for the PG and SH LUCU made a solid shot from the front of the goal post to make the score 15-10.

Up until this time, the Blossoms were very solid defensively. In the first test match, the Blossoms’ defensive network, which had been broken by the quick rushes of the Les Bleus’ FWs, did not collapse this time. The two sides therefore remained in a scoreless stalemate.

20 minutes into the second half:

The two sides engaged in a densely contested turnover, which made for a very entertaining match. However, Les Bleus was able to get deep into enemy territory. And their attack made the Blossoms to draw a penalty, Not release the ball, and Les Bleus elected to go for the PG. SO JALIBERT made a steady kick to make the score 15-13. Les Bleus was now within 2 points.

31 minutes into the second half:

Les Bleus pushed for a scrum a little way into enemy territory. The Blossoms held on, but Les Bleus kept the ball on the edge of the scrum, and when a stalemate ensued, replacement SH COUILLOUD broke through from the right edge of the scrum. The Blossoms were unable to catch COUILLOUD scored a try right under the goal post. Les Bleus finally succeeded in turning the tables. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 15-20.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in the match, the 50,000-plus crowd at the stadium was ready for the Brave Blossoms’ final offensive push. 

31 minutes into the second half:

The cheers of the crowd were too much for the Les Bleus players. The crowd’s support weighed heavily on the Les Bleus players. After the try, the Blossoms kicked off the ball to Les Bleus FB Bleus FB Spring, the FB of Les Bleus, unexpectedly dropped the ball. The Blossoms had an opportunity to scrum for their own ball in front of the enemy goal line without much effort. From there, they deployed a series of attacks to push forward. Les Bleus committed a penalty and the Blossoms opted for a penalty kick to score a try. The ball went to the No.8 TATAFU, who dragged three opposing defenders down the field and scored a try right in the middle of the field.

At this moment, there was a huge shout from the crowd and everyone was convinced that Brave Blossoms had won the game. I, too, forgot that I was watching the game wearing a French jersey and started yelling as loud as I could.

However, the TMO made a video decision, and the Blossoms’ try by TATAFU was disallowed due to a knock-on penalty. What a pity.

After this, the Brave Blossoms had two chances to score, but were unable to do so. The final score was 15-20 in favor of the French team, Les Bleus. With this victory, Les Bleus will be ranked No. 1 in the world in a few days.

After the match, I heard some female fans on the way home saying, “I thought we would lose by a bigger margin, but it was so close. The RWC2023 in France is only about a year away. I hope for the success of the tournament and remarkable progress of Brave Blossoms.

** Jersey Collection 62 **

This is a replica jersey of the French national rugby team from an estimated 1996. I bid 6,350 yen for it on Yahoo! Auctions. The French national team jersey is very popular, so there is always a bidding war. This time, too, there were three bidders, and the price went up. I wanted to bid around 4,000 yen, but in the end I was too stubborn. I wanted to get this jersey at any cost, because they are rarely sold.

The base color is white, so it is a second jersey.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


RUGBY JERSEY~Japan Rugby Test Match 2022~Japan Brave Blossoms VS France Les Bleus~ Round 1

(Author: Azul, July 7, 2022)

The Japan Brave Blossoms Rugby Team’s 2022 Test Match Series began on July 3 with the fourth match against Les Bleus of France.

The Japanese national rugby team has never won a match against the French national team, with a total record of 0 wins, 9 losses, and 1 draw. The current French national team is ranked No. 2 in the world and is the strongest team in Europe, having won the most recent Six Nations Rugby tournament.

The current France national team is the favorite to win the 2023 RWC, and the extent to which the current Japan national team can compete with this superior team will give us an idea of the current national team’s strength.

The venue for the first test match is Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture. Hence, this week’s match-watching was also a long-distance expedition.

8:00a.m. Departure from Hachioji Station to Shin-Yokohama Station

9:20a.m. Transfer to Shinkansen from Shin-Yokohama Station to Nagoya Station

10:40a.m. Arrival at Nagoya Station.

10:45a.m. Transfer to Subway Meitetsu Line to Toyota City Station

11:40a.m. Arrive at Toyota-shi Station.

Many rugby fans had already arrived at the station, but the game was scheduled to start at 15:00, so I decided to have lunch at a nearby shopping mall.

I had tonkatsu set meal for lunch that day. It was quite crowded with rugby fans, and we waited for about 30 minutes before finally entering the restaurant. However, the food was delicious. The price was 1,000 yen.

The temperature in Toyota City that day was 35 degrees Celsius, and I was afraid I would get heat stroke if I entered the stadium too early, so I killed some time at a shopping mall.

Around 1:30 p.m., I headed for the stadium. Naturally, it was very hot.

Last week, like many supporters, I wore a Japan national team jersey, but this time I wore a France national team polo shirt.

** Jersey Collection 61 **

I thought about which jersey I would wear to cheer on the French national team when they came to Japan this time, but all my French national team jerseys are long-sleeved, so it was a little hard to wear them in the middle of summer, so I bought this shirt on Yahoo Auction right before the team arrived. It is a polo shirt, but it is quite well made, and I personally like it. The price was 2,700 yen, which is cheap for a new used item. The estimated production date is 2017. On the way to the stadium, I was approached by a French supporter. I think I will wear it to the next game.

It was about a 15-minute walk from Toyota City Station to Toyota Stadium. However, it took a little longer because more than 20,000 people were walking to the stadium.

On the way, we crossed the Toyota Ohashi Bridge, which spans the Yahagi River. This bridge was quite architecturally elaborate, and many fans were taking pictures.

The Toyota Ohashi Bridge was beautiful, but what caught my eye even more was the venue for today’s game, Toyota Stadium. It was designed by Kisho Kurokawa, an international architect. He designed the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the Toshiba IHI Pavilion at the Osaka Expo.

This protruding corner catches the eye. Once you see it, it leaves a strong impression.

At around 14:00, we finally arrived at Toyota Stadium. This stadium has a capacity of 44,380 and was the site of the Japan vs. Samoa match in the 2019 RWC.

Even in this intense heat, there were a variety of events taking place around the venue. This stadium is the home of League One’s TOYOTA Verblitz, so players there were holding various rugby promotion events.

The player in the black shirt in the center of the photo is Himeno, the captain of Verblitz and a member of the Japanese national team. Unfortunately, he did not participate in this test match due to illness.

I entered the stadium around 14:00, an hour before the match. My seat today was row 16 on the first floor of the south side stand. The position of the seats was not so bad, but these seats were exposed to the sunlight of this hot summer heat, and I would get heat stroke if I did not take measures against heat. In hindsight, I should have chosen the north side stand.

But the worst part is the people watching the games in the back stands. My seat behind the goal was category 4, the cheapest at 4,000 yen, but the people in the back stand had to pay 16,000 yen and endure this scorching hell for more than two hours. Even if they endure with water and hats, those who are not in good physical condition are likely to collapse.

As the start of the match was approaching, players from both teams appeared on the field.

As expected of the French national team. Each play they made during practice was powerful. And the atmosphere is more serious than a friendly match.

Now, let me introduce the two teams that will be competing on this day.

First, let’s start with the Japanese national team, Brave Blossoms.

Actually, the Japanese team had an accident a few days before the match. Among the regular members of the team, the following four players tested positive for the new strain of corona.

Hooker Shota Horie




All four players are members of Japan’s main squad, but were unable to play in the first test match. It is undecided whether they will be able to play in the second test match.

As a result, the starting lineup has changed considerably since last week’s match. Below is the list.

Brave Blossoms
No.NameheightweightageJapan Caps
1Keita INAGAKI186cm116kg3240
2Atsushi SAKADE180cm104kg2928
3Asaeri Ai VALU178cm112kg264
4Wimpie Vanderwalt188cm112kg33 20
5Jack CORNELSEN195cm110kg277
6Michael LEITCH189cm113kg3373
7Ben GUNTER195cm120kg243
8Tevita Tatafu183m124kg26 10
9Kaito Shigeno170cm75kg31 14
10Seungshin LEE176cm85kg212
11Siosaia FIFITA187cm105kg237
12Shogo NAKANO186cm98kg254
13Dylan RILEY187cm102kg255
14Gerhard von den HEEVER192cm102kg331
15Ryohei Yamanaka188cm98kg3322

** Players to watch **

Seungshin LEE, 176 cm,85 kg,21 years old. Position SO. 21 years old and a talented player who plays SO for the prestigious Kobe Steelers. He was selected for this major role at short notice due to the new corona infection of YAMAZAWA, the regular SO. Conversely, it is a sign that the head coach trusts him to fulfill this role with at least some experience.

Next, I would like to introduce the Visitor team, Les Bleus, representing France.

More than half of the regular members of the team did not take part in this tour because of the French rugby league playoffs that coincided with the dates of the tour of Japan. However, 19 of the members of the team that won an impressive match against England just before this expedition participated in this test match, and there is no doubt that the team is of a higher caliber than the Japanese national team.

Today’s starting lineup for Les Bleus is as follows

No.NameheightweightageFrance Caps
1Jean-Baptiste GROS185cm110kg2319
2Peato MAUVAKA184cm116kg2414
3Demba BAMBA185cm118kg2423
4 Thibaud FLAMENT197cm114kg257
5Thomas JOLMES203cm127kg260
6 Dylan CRETIN195cm102kg2518
7Charles OLLIVON199cm114kg2923
8 Yoan TANGA186m107kg250
9Maxime LUCU177m79kg287
10 Matthieu JALIBERT184cm84kg2715
11 Matice LEBEL184cm104kg232
12 Yoram MOEFANA182cm95kg226
13 Virimi VAKATAWA185cm100kg3030
14Damian PENAUD188cm93kg2532
15 Melvyn JAMINET182cm80kg2311

** Players to watch **

Matthieu JALIBERT. 184 cm, 84 kg, 27 years old. He is a talented player who is competing with Ntamack for the regular SO position in the current French national team.

When he sees an opening, he cuts through it with a sharp step. However, if this player is allowed to control the game at will, the Brave Blossoms’ defense will have to find a way to stop him.

Then came the pre-match ceremony, where the national anthems of both countries were sung. The first was from the French nation La Marseillais.

As expected, the French national team has a flair. The RWC was a great success for the French national team, and the tournament was very exciting. I wonder how they will play today.

Then the Japanese national anthem Kimigayo was sang.

Three years have passed since RWC2019 was held in Japan, and next year we will welcome RWC2023 in France. In Japan, the Brave Blossoms have been strengthening their players through a new league, League One, and have been preparing for this tournament through training camps and a test match against the Uruguayan national team. Expectations are high.

Let the game begin. The kick-off time was 15:05.

The French national team kicked off and the game started.

3 minutes into the first half:

Les Bleus kicked off, WTB FIFITA caught the ball and Brave Blossoms went forward, made a point once there, and then expanded right, CTB NAKANO cut in, and both teams formed a tight group. In the end, the Blossoms could not get the ball out, so it was Les Bleus’ ball and a scrum ensued. They then deployed to the right and SH LUCU showed that they were going to cut inside and then deployed outside. A long pass was passed from SO JALIBERT to WTB PENAUD, who easily scored a try in the right corner. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Les Bleus took the lead with the score 0-7.

6 minutes into the first half:

Brave Blossoms won their own ball lineout from the kickoff after a try, where SO LEE caught a long throw ball. The Blossoms were able to force a foul on their opponents and had a PG opportunity near the 10-meter line in enemy territory. SO LEE scored the PG from nearly 40 meters out to make the score 3 The score was 3-7.

14 minutes into the first half:

This period of attack was ideal for the Blossoms and for Japanese rugby fans.

The Blossoms made a series of attacks into enemy territory, with FL GUNTER moving forward on the right and WTB von den HEEVER moving forward again. The Blossoms then moved into a tight battle, and after closing in on the enemy in-goal, No. 8 TATAFU weaved his way through a swarm of French defenders to score a try just under the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 10-7 in favor of the Brave Blossoms.

19 minutes into the first half:

The Blossoms were penalized for not playing away, and Les Bleus opted to go for the PG, which FB JAMINET converted to tie the score at 10-10.

24 minutes into the first half.

The Brave Blossoms took control of the game in this period. They were gaining ground left and right. This led to a foul on Les Bleus and a PG opportunity near the front of the goal at the enemy 10m line. LEE scored the PG from nearly 40 meters to give the Blossoms the lead again, 13-10. The Blossoms took the lead again with the score 13-10.

29 minutes into the first half:

The Brave Blossoms were still in control of the game at this time, but a mishandling of a ball kicked into their own territory resulted in a foul that gave Les Bleus a PG right in front of the goal posts. FB JAMINET scored it to make the score 13-13 and tie the game again.

After this, a back-and-forth battle ensued, but in the end neither team was able to increase the score, and the first half ended with the score tied.

Looking back at the first half, Brave Blossoms put up a strong fight. A sign play by Les Bleus cost them a try early on, but No.8 TATAFU caught up with them with a try, and the teams went back-and-forth for the remainder of the half. So far, the Blossoms defense has been working. However, Les Blues, despite being pushed in the game, never pull away. This is a team effort that shows their underlying strength. The second half of the match will be interesting to see if the game will remain in the same balance.

Before the second half began, something amazing happened.

My seat was covered with shade. This made me feel like I had come from hell to heaven because I could concentrate on the game. However, in the back stand, I felt sorry for the people sitting there, who were exposed to the direct sunlight until the sun went down.

So, let’s get the second half underway.

5 minutes into the second half:

From the start of the second half, the Brave Blossoms were in control of the region. However, Les Bleus entered the enemy territory, created a cluster on the left edge of the 22m line, and from there, SO JALIBERT easily slipped in behind the Blossoms defense and followed WTB LEBEL, who received the ball and scored a try right under the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 13-20, with Les Blues scoring the first points of the second half.

12 minutes into the second half:

At this time of the game, Les Bleus was on the offensive, and the game was being played in enemy territory more often than not. A penalty kick was scored by Les Bleus FB JAMINET and the score was 13-23.

14 minutes into the second half.

The Brave Blossoms kicked off after an enemy PG, connected with the ball, and advanced to the center of the opposition’s territory. Here, Les Bleus was fouled for offside and the Blossoms elected to go for the PG. SO LEE made steady progress on this one, making the score 16-23.

18 minutes into the second half:

It was a war of attrition, with both teams pushing forward, but getting turnovers along the way. Les Bleus CTB MOEFANA broke a Blossoms tackle and made a big gain. WTB PENAUD followed up on this and scored a try right in the middle of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 16-30 in favor of Les Bleus.

21 minutes into the second half.

Les Bleus’ offensive drive was now underway. CTB MOEFANA received the ball near the center of the field to the right and kicked it forward. He caught the ball by himself and scored a try right in the middle of the field. After the try, the conversion goal failed. The score was 16-35, giving Les Blues a 19-point lead.

The Blossoms’ defensive network, which had worked in the first half, began to break down in places, probably due to fatigue from the heat.

28 minutes into the second half:

Les Bleus had been scoring from the openings in the second half, but for the first time in the match, they scored from a set piece by the FWs.

A Blossoms foul on Les Bleus at the 10-meter line led to a penalty kick to take possession, and from inside the 22-meter line, Les Bleus won the ball in a lineout. Les Bleus pushed forward and scored a try. The try was scored by hooker BOURGARIT. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 16-42.

43 minutes into the second half

Brave Blossoms were now 26 points down and were desperate to score one last try and they did just that. However, the French defense was solid, and they bounced back again and again. After a few more attempts, WTB FIFITA ran diagonally to the goal line from the opposite side of the field, received the ball, and scored a try in the right center of the field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 23-42.

The game was over at this point, as the horn had already sounded.

Brave Blossoms lost the game, but gained some points from their brave challenge against the European champions, Les Bleus. Brave Blossoms will look for revenge in the second test match next week.

Today’s attendance, announced by the tournament organizers, was 24,570. The stadium has a capacity of 48,000, so the attendance was about 50%. I hope that the popularity of rugby will continue to grow.

After the game, rugby fans left the stadium and headed home. There was a pleasant afterglow in the air after the game.

The game ended at 17:00, and it was 20:17 when I got on the Shinkansen from Nagoya.

Next week, the second test match will be held at the National Stadium in Tokyo. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of game they will show us.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine