RUGBY JERSEY -2022-23 League One Section 8:

Kubota Spears Funabashi TOKYO-BAY vs Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Sagamihara Dynaboars

(Author: Azul, February 26, 2023)

18 February 2023. This time I went to the Edogawa Athletics Stadium in Edogawa, Tokyo, to watch the League One Section 8 match, Kubota Spears vs Sagamihara Dynaboars.

The stadium is a 15-minute walk from Nishi-Kasai Station on the Tozai Subway Line.

Volunteers from the home team, the Spears, stand at each point to give directions from the station. Thank you.

The match was a 14:30 kick-off. I misread the train time and arrived at the stadium just before the game started.

Pictured above is the Spears mascot, Suppy. The attendance that day was 3,534.

In my case, many of the games I have watched at Edogawa Athletics Stadium in the past have been rained out, but on this day, the weather was almost clear and the temperature was 16°C, making it a perfect day to watch the game.

On this day, I was watching the game from

I was in the grass seats behind the goal. The main and back stands are more comfortable, but I mostly sit behind the goal because it is difficult to take photos.

First, let’s check the League One standings in Section 8. Spears, who we play today, are in second place and Dynaboars are in seventh.

2022-23League One Order2023.2.18
1Saitama Wildnights80035157
2Tokyo Sungoliath71032143
3Kubota Spears60128127
4Yokohama Eagles52126121
5Tokyo Brave Lupas4402183
6Kobe Steelers340151
7Sagamihara Dynaboars33115-60
8Toyota Verblitz35014-44
9Shizuoka Blue Revs2411410
10Black Rams Tokyo2609-75
11Green Rockets Tokatsu1705-165
12Hanazono Riners0801-298
WP=Winning Point
GD=Goal Difference

Let’s take a look at the latest news on both teams playing today.

First up are home team KUBOTA SPEARS.

This season, they have shown more consistent strength than last season and are definitely favourites to win the championship. Their rival is last year’s champions, Saitama Wildknights. They finished third at the end of last season when hooker Malkolm MARX, a mainstay of the team, left the team due to injury, but this season they have a line-up that can challenge for the championship. The big game for the championship will be against WildNights on 4 March, but until then, neither side wants to lose a single game. And at their home ground, Edogawa Athletics Stadium, they currently boast an unbeaten eight-match winning streak. All eyes will be on how far they can extend this record.

Today’s starting line-up is as follows.

1Kota KAISHI172cm102kg28Japan 1cap
2Malkolm Marx189cm117kg28South Africa 57cap
3Kengo KITAGAWA178cm110kg30Japan 3cap
4Yuki AOKI188cm105kg30 
5David BULBRING199cm113kg33 
6Peter Labuschagne189cm106kg33Japan 14cap
7Takeo SUENAGA178cm98kg28 
8Faulua Makisi187cm112kg25Japan 5cap
9Kazuhiro TANIGUCHI164cm73kg27 
10Bernard Foley182cm89kg33Australia 75cap
11Haruto KIDA176cm90kg23 
12Rikus PRETORIAS193cm104kg23 
13Haratoa VAILEA187cm105kg23 
14Koga Nezuka173cm82kg24Japan 1cap
15Gerhard Van Den Heever192cm102kg33Japan 5cap

** Player to watch **

Haruto KIDA. 176 cm, 90 kg, 23 years old. Position=WTB. He is a graduate of Ritsumeikan University. He has represented Japan at various age levels, including Japan High School, Japan U20 and Junior Japan, and boasts a brilliant record. As befits his achievements, he is a regular member of the highly-regarded SPEARS squad this season, and is currently second or third in the League One try-scoring rankings. In games, he has the nous to score tries and the decisiveness to score them at the end. Depending on how well he performs this season, it would not be a surprise if he is called up for the national team.

And now, let me introduce today’s visiting team, Sagamihara Dynaboars.

Despite having just been promoted from Division 2 this season, the team has been the eye of the storm in the early stages of the season, racking up wins against last year’s top teams from the start of the season. However, towards the middle of the season, they have suffered back-to-back defeats against higher-ranked teams due to injuries to key players leaving the team, but I hope they can show a return to form here in order to stay in Division 1.

Today’s starting line-up is as follows.

1Hayato HOSODA173cm103kg27 
2Yuki MIYAZATO179cm103kg25 
3Tomoaki ISHII182cm120kg27 
4Naoya NAKAGAWA191cm109kg25 
5Epineri URUIVITI196cm122kg25 
6Sam Chongkit198cm108kg27Japan 7th
7Masataka TSURUYA186cm105kg32 
8Dylan NEL187cm111kg30 
9Kota Iwamura182cm87kg29 
10Matt TOOMUA182cm90kg32Australia 59cap
11Honeti TAUMOHAPPAI180cm94kg30 
12Nozomi NARA180cm93kg26 
13Alaia’sa Solarorand177cm94kg27 
14Jonmun HAN185cm90kg26 
15James SHILLCOCK178cm88kg25 

** Player to watch **

Matt TOOMUA. 182 cm, 90 kg, 32 years old. Australian national team 59 cap. position = SO, CTB. the biggest highlight of the Dynaboars’ reinforcements this season. played in the RWC 2015 and 2019.

Possesses the qualities required of an SO at a high level – passing, kicking and running. Last season, the Dynaboars suffered from the departure of their main SO due to injury, so we hope that TOOMUA will be able to play as a mainstay without injury.

Let’s kick off the first half.

SPEARS scored the first PG in the third minute of the first half. The kicker was Australia’s SO FOLEY, followed by another Australian international, SO TOOMUA of the Dynaboars, who equalised with a PG in the sixth minute of the first half.

15 minutes into the first half:

The Spears attacked into enemy territory and an infringement by their opponents led to a lineout in front of the in-goal in the deep right corner, where the Spears mauled their way forward and then went left. The Spears backs then sent a man advantage to the left corner, where FB Van den Heever passed to left WTB KIDA, who took it easy and scored a try in the left corner of the in-goal. Eighth try in total. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and Spears made the score 13-3.

33 minutes into the first half:

Dynaboars attacked deep into enemy territory on the left flank, with FB SHILLCOCK showing some impressive individual skills. From here, the Dynaboars, after several side attacks by their FWs, deployed on the right and SO TOOMUA fired a kick-pass down the left flank. Dynaboars flanker CHONGKIT won a race against the opposition defence and made a brilliant catch just in front of the in-goal, where Dynaboars’ CHONGKIT fell down but passed to CTB NARA who came running in and NARA scored a try in the right corner of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was 13-8.

The first half ended with this score. It had been a close game so far, with plenty of highlights for both sides. Now, can the Dynaboars halt Spears’ winning streak at the Edogawa Athletics Stadium?

At half-time, Spears threw merchandise signed by the players into the stands as part of their fan service.

The second half started.

1 minute of the second half:

Spears showed a line attack and WTB NEZUKA made a sharp breakthrough, which was stopped by Dynaboars WTB TAUMOHAPPAI in a strong tackle. However, the tackle was ruled a dangerous no-bind tackle and TAUMOHAPPAI was temporarily sent off for 10 minutes.

However, this sending off backfired for the Dynaboars. They were then to concede four tries in just ten minutes.

Spears’ try in the second minute of the first half from a maul attack was a try that Spears powered over, but

4 minutes into the second half:

The big 193 cm CTB PRETORIAS, who replaced Spears’ CTB TATEKAWA who was absent for the match, made a powerful line break and a big gain and finally FB Van den Heever scored a try right in the middle.

The fan in the photo above is holding up the initial G for Gerhard Van Den Heever. Probably.

7 minutes into the second half:

The Dynaboars were trying to recover their position with a kick when they were attacked in their own half, once they got the ball back in a tight battle. However, Spears WTB NEZUKA caught the ball and counter-attacked, getting behind the opposition defence and the Spears FW followed up one by one and connected with the opposition in-goal, with Spears SH TANIGUCHI scoring try in the right midfield finally.

10 minutes into the second half:

Spears enter enemy territory and develop on the right flank, where once again Spears CTB PRETORIAS breaks through the opposition defence for a big gain, and the Dynaboars gather in numbers in this tight formation to stop the try. Spears’ SO Foley saw this and kick-passed to the opposite side. Spears’ left WTB KIDA, who was waiting in this position, then dodged one of the opposition defenders and scored a try in the middle left of the in-goal field.

For the Dynaboars, the 10 minutes of the second half when a man was sent off turned out to be a nightmare.

At the start of the second half it was 13-8, but

Just ten minutes later, the score was 41-8, with Spears scoring four tries and four goals in the process, deciding the game for good.

15 minutes into the second half:

The Dynaboars finally got their man back and were looking to show some determination by getting back on the scoresheet. After a long period of inactivity, they had a scrum deep in enemy territory and were pushed over by Spears, which led to a Spears infringement, where SH IWAMURA quickly cut deep into enemy territory to the right and connected with CTB NARA, who scored his second try of the day in the middle right of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also a success.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 41-15.

23 minutes of the second half:

Once Spears had gained momentum, they were hard to stop. MAKISI received the pass and scored a try in the middle on the left. The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was 46-15.

25 minutes of the second half:

From the kick-off after the try, the Dynaboars had a scrum in opposition territory. Dynaboars lock URUIVITI successfully charged down an attempted kick by Spears replacement SH FUJIWARA and URUIVITI picked up the spilled ball to score a try just under the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 46-22.

29 minutes of the second half:

Spears pushed forward into the opposition’s in-goal and came close to scoring a try through sheer force, mainly from their FWs, with the Dynaboars showing determination and defending three times before Spears midfield prop HELU twisted his body into the middle right of the in-goal to score the try finally. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 53-22.

37 minutes into the second half:

Spears had a lineout on their own ball on the right near the enemy 22m line. Yamamoto scored his first try in League One. However, Yamamoto’s running form was both well-rounded and fast. We can’t wait to see what he can do in the future. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and the score was 60-22.

Although the Dynaboars suffered a heavy defeat in terms of score in this match, they did not give up the fight and their determination to score points right to the end gave us hope for the next round of matches.

Spears have now won nine consecutive games at their home ground, Edogawa Athletics Stadium, since joining League One. The home fans will be eager to see how far they can take this record.

** Jersey collection 73 **

KUBOTA SPEARS staff jersey, manufactured by Cotton Traders. Got it on Yahoo Auctions for ¥ 3,980. I am proud of the embroidery of the number 28 on the left arm. I guessed it was for support staff as the players are up to number 23.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


RUGBY JERSEY – 9th National Women’s Rugby Football Championship Final

Tokyo Thank you Phoenix vs Nihon Taiiku University

(Author: Azul, February 19, 2023)

This week on Febrauary 5, 2023, I went to the Odawara City Shiroyama Athletics Stadium in Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, to watch the Women’s Rugby Japan Championship Final. Odawara City is a famous tourist destination and has an image of being far away, but from my home (Hachioji City), it takes about the same amount of time to get there as it does to get to Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground. The distance is about 65 km, and the journey takes 90 minutes by train.

The day was blessed with fine weather, making it a perfect day for sightseeing and watching the match. Since I had come all the way to Odawara, I visited Odawara Castle, the main sightseeing spot here.

Odawara Castle is about a 10-minute walk from Odawara Station, and you can reach the entrance.

As you exit Odawara Station, Odawara Castle can be seen on the right. From here, follow the signs and you will see the moat of the castle.

You can then enter the entrance and enter the castle. It has been about 10 years since I visited Odawara Castle. Compared to when I was here before, it was much cleaner and better maintained.

During the Warring States period, the castle was said to be impregnable, and indeed there are a number of gates from the outer moat to the keep.

During the Warring States period, enemy troops had to break through these thick gates, which was quite hard work. I was sweating just walking onwards.

The castle is quite large, so a guide map is provided along the way. Odawara Castle in its present form was built in 1633 by the Hojo clan, who were warring feudal lords. It was once demolished in the early Meiji period (late 18th century), but the castle’s main citadel and other parts were later restored.

The photo above shows the second circle of Odawara Castle and Sumiyoshi Bridge. As the situation with the new corona infection is now on the wane, people have returned to the tourist attractions in Japan.

The photo above shows the copper gate of Odawara Castle. It is still a long way to the castle tower. Well, it’s a long way, and if it were summer, you’d be drenched in sweat.

In Ninomaru, there was also this sightseeing facility. This is the Ninja Museum. Historical materials about the Fuuma Ninja Army, a group of ninja who served the Hojo clan, were on display. I didn’t have enough time to see inside the museum, but next time I come to Odawara, I would like to visit.

And finally, the castle tower. From the entrance to here, it took 30 minutes. Now it’s time to head to the match venue.

The kick-off time for the match on 5 February was 13:00.

The match venue, Shiroyama Athletics Stadium, is located on the other side of Odawara Station. And when you get to the other side of the station.

Oops, there was a bronze statue of Soun Hojo, a famous war lord, here. To the citizens of Odawara, Soun Hojo is a hero. With this statue by my side, I headed towards the stadium. Then, about 15 minutes’ walk from here, the Shiroyama Athletics Stadium, the venue for the match, came into view.

The stadium here has a capacity of 15,000, according to the data. The capacity of the main stand is thought to be approximately 1,500. The number of spectators on the day was approximately 700.

The National Women’s Rugby Football Championship was previously known as the National Women’s Rugby Football Exchange Tournament, rather than the Japanese Championship, due to the small number of women playing rugby. With the increase in the number of players, the name was changed to the current name in 2014. The winning and runner-up teams from the Kanto tournament and the winning and runner-up teams from the Kansai tournament (including Kyushu) are eligible to participate.

The results of the semi-finals are as follows. The venue was the Suzuka Football and Rugby Stadium in Mie Prefecture.

1/22 Game 1: Kyushu Nagato Joint Team vs Japan University of Physical Education Club Women.

(Nihon Taiiku University Rugby Club Women won 0-33 to advance to the final.)

1/22 2nd match: PEARLS vs Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix Rugby Club

(The Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix Rugby Club won 19-34 to advance to the final.)

Let’s introduce the two teams that will play on this day.

First up are Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix.

The Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix is a club team based in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, founded in 2002. At the time of its foundation, the team was formed mainly by OGs of Nihon Taiiku University, which we will be playing today. This is the first time the team will try to win the Japanese championship as a stand-alone team.

Today’s starting line-up is as follows.

Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix
1Megumi TAKAGI159cm88kg29 
2Natsuki KASHIWAGI158cm75kg24 
3Ayumi KOKAJI158cm75kg22 
4Jade CORTIS178cm78kg24 
5Yuna SATO169cm75kg24Japan
6Michi KURAMOCHI155cm58kg24 
7Nana NAGATOSHI159cm64kg21 
8Misaki SUZUKI163m63kg30Japan 31cap
9Yumeno NODA164cm61kg25 
10Aoi KUROKAWA164cm67kg25 
11Minami SHIKAO159cm58kg25 
12Mana FURUTA167cm68kg25Japan 18cap 
13Suzuha OKAMOTO155cm60kg20 
14Triver NIA167cm68kg24 
15Yume OHKURODA157cm62kg28Japan 7th

** Player to watch **

Misaki SUZUKI. 163 cm, 63 kg, 30 years old. Position = FL, No. 8, Japan national team cap 31. A leader in women’s rugby with a pioneering spirit, she was selected for Japan’s national team in 2010 and has been a long-time one of the leader of the national women’s team. She was also the captain of the team in the final on that day.

Next, I would like to introduce the Nihon Taiiku University(=NTU) Women’s Rugby Club.

The club was founded in 1988. Initially, the club had only two members and practised alongside the men’s rugby team. In 1999, the club was finally promoted to an official rugby club. In 2002, Phenix, the team we play today, was born as an OG team. Today’s match is, so to speak, a showdown between the same team from Nihon Taiiku University(=NTU). Since the Japan Women’s Rugby Championship was established to decide the best women’s rugby team in Japan, NTU’s women’s rugby team has won the championship five times.

Today’s starting line-up is as follows.

Nippon Sport Science University
1Nanako USHIJIMA164cm77kg20 
2Mei ZIZOUDOU164cm75kg21Japan
3Hinata KOMAKI166cm78kg21 
4Sumika ABE168cm73kg22 
5Mio NISHIMURA168cm83kg20Japan
6Soyoka KINOSHITA160cm67kg22 
7Sakurako KOURAI167cm70kg19Japan
8Yuua HORIKAWA168cm73kg22 
9Sara  TAKAHASHI153cm57kg21 
10Yurina SHINNO178cm88kg25 
11Honoka TSUTSUMI153cm57kg25 
12Miho HITORA163cm66kg22 
13Rinka MATSUDA170cm78kg21Japan 9cap
14Akari HIGASHI170cm78kg21 
15Natsuki OHUCHIDA163cm62kg20 

** Player to watch **.

Nanako USHIJIMA. 164 cm, 77 kg, 20 years old. Position = prop. A graduate of Kanto Gakuin Rokuura High School. A candidate for the Japan national team. Started playing rugby in the first year of primary school, and her rugby sense shines through, backed up by her experience. She is also a very good runner and has played well in 7-man competitions. Her current position is prop, but she is also expected to play an active role in the FW third row.

So, let the game begin.

Let’s get the game underway.

Phoenix actively supplied the ball to the backs and launched open attacks. In contrast, NTU attacked with SO SHINNO’s kicks as the starting point.

On the physical side, Phoenix were slightly better at set pieces. In the first half, Phoenix attacked almost exclusively in the opponents’ territory, creating numerous scoring chances. However, they just couldn’t get past the NTU defence in front of the in-goal.

27 minutes into the first half:

NTU won the ball and each BK player advanced their position with a kick. When NTU kicked the ball into their own half, Phoenix FB OHKURODA tried to kick it back, but NTU CTB MATSUDA charged and the ball rolled deep into enemy territory. Phoenix managed to secure the ball and when SO KUROKAWA tried to kick it back, NTU CTB MATSUDA charged again, MATSUDA caught the ball and ran into the enemy in-goal to score a try. NTU SO SHINNO scored the conversion goal after the try to make the score 0-7.

35 minutes into the first half:

NTU’s tactic of gradually advancing from their own line with kicks saw them move deep into enemy territory. From here, NTU developed from a tight pack on the left edge and CTB HITORA kicked a pass which WTB HIGASHI caught well to score a try in the middle of the enemy in-goal on the right. The conversion goal after the try failed, leaving the score 0-12.

43 minutes into the first half:

Phenix SO KUROKAWA kicked out of their own half, which went out beyond the enemy 22m line, so the 50-22 rule was applied and Phoenix had their own lineout just beyond the enemy 22m line. From this point, Phoenix made numerous attempts to advance, mainly through the FWs, in an attempt to score, but they were unable to cross the goal line. However, in the closing minutes of the first half, in a tight battle in front of the enemy in-goal, hooker KASHIWAGI dived into the middle left of the in-goal to score a try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 7-12.

At the end of the first half, Phoenix had a slight physical advantage over NTU and had the upper hand in the set-piece, keeping the game in opposition territory for most of the first half, but were unable to break through their opponents’ defence and score. In contrast, NTU made the most of the few chances they had to get behind their opponents with kicks, which effectively led to scores. However, depending on their tactics in the second half, the game could go either way.

So let’s get the second half underway.

2 minutes into the second half:

The second half began with the Phoenix kick-off. In the first half, NTU boasted an iron-clad day defence, but early in the second half, the defensive net broke down in places and was breached three times, allowing Phoenix to come close to scoring in-goal. Phoenix, from a cluster formed in front of the goalposts, developed to the left and the ball was passed from the SO to the left WTB, with left WTB SHIKAO scoring a try in the left corner of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was tied 12-12.

9 minutes into the second half:

From the kick-off after the try, NTU moved forward, mainly through their FW players, to close in on the enemy in-goal, forming a cluster at the left corner of the enemy goal posts, where prop KOMAKI attacked the side of the cluster and scored a try in the middle left of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 12-19. NTU took the lead again.

16 minutes into the second half:

From deep in their own half, the Phoenix team moved to the right and the ball was passed to right WTB NIA, who raced through at high speed to get in front of the enemy in-goal. NTU managed to hold off Phoenix’s NIA in front of their own in-goal, but in the tight pack in this position, they committed an infringement. From there, Phoenix hooker KASHIWAGI rushed forward and scored a try on the right side of the goal post. The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was 17-19. Phoenix were again two points behind.

27 minutes of the second half:

With 12 minutes remaining in the game, Phoenix were attacked by NTU at this time and were unable to push back. In response, NTU showed effective attacking moves, such as BK development and kicks to the back of the opposition’s defence. From a corner in their own half, Phoenix passed the ball from the SH to the SO, who attempted to kick the ball, and NTU FB OHUCHIDA successfully charged in. OHUCHIDA picked up the ball herself and scored a try in the middle left of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was 17-24.

30 minutes of the second half:

From the kick-off after the try, both teams kicked deep with each other. Phoenix counter-attacked through the middle of the opposition defence with left wing WTB MASUDA, who took over as a substitute. Phoenix went close to the post at once, but NTU held them off. However, Phoenix was able to move to the left through the crowd and the ball was passed from the SO to CTB OKAMOTO, who scored a try in the left corner of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, but Phoenix were again within two points with the score 22-24.

39 minutes into the second half:

NTU showed a tactic of consuming the remaining time by taking their time and attacking slowly, mainly through the FWs in enemy territory. However, a painful knock-on in a maul resulted in the ball going to Phoenix. From here, Phoenix almost made their final attack, moving the determined right WTB NIA to the left flank. Could Phoenix turn the ball free to NIA?

Phoenix quickly deployed from a deep position of their own in-goal, and with space created, the ball was passed to WTB NIA. From here, NIA lived up to expectations, cutting through the swerve and weaving through NTU defence to the 10m line on the left side of the opposition line.

With less than a minute left on the clock, NTU also had to use their last gasp of power to hold off NIA’s advance. From here, the Phoenix moved to the right edge of the field, looking to score a try, but NTU showed their mettle and stopped Phoenix advance just short of the 22m line on the right edge of the field.

From this cluster, the Phoenix deployed further left, laying a deep line to allow WTB NIA to pass free, and when she crossed to NIA on the left edge, there was a big space in front of her. Two NSU defenders also tried hard to drive NIA out of the ground, but NIA stepped up just in time to score a dramatic reverse final try in the left corner.

A conversion goal after the try was missed, but Phoenix turned the score around with a final try by WTB NIA, 27-24, to become this season’s Japanese champions.

The match was a high profile affair with both sides trading points and a dramatic end to the match. Phoenix became the first solo team to win the Japanese Championship.

** Jersey collection 72 **

This time, I would like to introduce a football jersey, but as an extra edition. It is a jersey of the Italian professional football team, the mighty Juventus. I bought it new second-hand on Yahoo Auctions for ¥2,500. The red, white and green colours representing the colours of the Italian flag are so beautiful that I couldn’t help but want one. This time, I was able to win the bid without any competition, so I was happy to get it at a lower price.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


RUGBY JERSEY -2022-23 League One Section 6

Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath vs Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Sagamihara Dynaboars

(Author: Azul, February 7, 2023)

In its second season, Japan Rugby League One started on 17 December 2022 and reached its sixth round on 29 January. Here are the League One First Division standings so far.

2022-23League One Order2023.1.29
1Saitama Wildnights6002577
2Kubota Spears42120115
3Tokyo Brave Lupas42020100
4Tokyo Sungoliath4101988
5Yokohama Eagles3121789
6Sagamihara Dynaboars31115-3
7Toyota Verblitz24010-37
8Kobe Steelers24010-18
9Black Rams Tokyo2308-21
10Green Rockets Tokatsu1404-96
11Shizuoka Blue Revs0414-31
12Hanazono Liners0601-243
WP=Winning Point
GD=Goal Difference

Last season’s champions, Wild Knights, have been consistently strong this season and are in provisional first place.

The weakest side are the bottom-placed Liners, who have lost all six of their games, all but one of which were heavy defeats. In particular, their defence was in a state of collapse.

In contrast, Dynaboars, another team promoted from the second division, have done quite well, beating last season’s top teams Bravelupas and Verblitz. This is a great achievement and the eye of the typhoon this season.

I went to watch the match between Tokyo Sungoliath and Sagamihara Dynaboars on 29 January this time. The venue for this match was the Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

As for the weather conditions on the day, the temperature was 8 degrees Celsius at the 14:30 kick-off. It was a home game for Sungoliath.

As you would expect from a popular team, Sungoliath drew a large crowd when they played at Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground – for a League One first division team match, the approximate crowd for each match is around 5,000, but on this day, the attendance was 7,018.

Immediately after RWC2019, the event boasted a popularity that saw every match almost fully booked, but three years later, the popularity of the event has slightly declined. If the Japanese national team performs well at this year’s RWC 2023, there is a possibility that popularity could rise again.

The Visitor Team of the day, Dynaboars, also had a tent where fans gathered.

It is very cold to watch the game in the middle of winter, so on this day I watched the game in the back stand, where the sun shone during the game.

Let me introduce the two teams playing this day.

First, an update on the home team, Tokyo Sungoliath.

Sungoliath finished second in League One last season, but they have the firepower to win the championship again this season. Every year, the team attracts promising players from strong universities and the player pool is so thick that even star players who have a shot at the national team have a hard time getting into the game. This season, too, promising star players have joined the team. Introduced on this day were.

1) Mikiya TAKAMOTO – from Teikyo University. Position = SO, and was the best player in this season’s University Championships.

2) Masahiko SAGARA – from Waseda University. Position = FL; captain of Waseda University, which reached the final of this season’s University Championships.

(3) Soshi Ohga – from Meiji University. Position = prop. One of the leading props of this generation.

(4) Vunilagi SAIMONI. from Daito Bunka University. International student from Fiji who is expected to make an immediate impact.

The starting line-up for the day is as follows.

Suntory Sungoliath
1Kenta KOBAYASHI181cm112kg23 
2Shunta NAKAMURA178cm100kg28Japan 0cap
3Shinnosuke Kakinaga180cm115kg30Japan 11cap
4Tui Hendrik188cm110kg35Japan 47cap
5Harry HOCKINGS206cm118kg24 
6Kanji SHIMOKAWA188cm105kg23Japan 0cap
7Kai YAMAMOTO177cm98kg22 
8Tevita TATAFU183m124kg26Japan 14cap
9Naoto SAITO165cm73kg25Japan 10cap
10Aaron CRUDEN175cm82kg33New Zealand  50cap
11Tevita Li182cm95kg27 
12Ryoto Nakamura181cm92kg30Japan 30cap
13Shogo NAKANO186cm98kg25Japan 5cap
14Seiya Ozaki175cm85kg27Japan 4cap
15Kotaro MATSUSHIMA178cm88kg29Japan 46cap

** Player to watch **.

Harry HOCKINGS. 206 cm, 118 kg, 24 years old from Australia. Position = lock. An irreplaceable player in Sungoliath’s squad. He is an international class player in terms of size, and at only 24 years of age, he is a young, injury prone and central player in the Sungoliath lineout. He has the potential to make the national team in the near future.

Next up is an update on visiting team Dynaboars.

No experts expected Dynaboars to be among the top contenders this season, having been promoted from League One’s second division to the first this season. There have been no significant reinforcements this season and many fans felt threatened by the departure of Michael LITTLE, a key player who had been the team’s mainstay until last season. However, once the season started, the team defeated one opponent after another, whom they had never beaten before. This season, Dynaboars have become the typhoon of League One. Hopefully, they can keep this momentum going until the end of the season.

The starting line-up for the day is as follows.

1Shunsuke SAKAMOTO180cm107kg24 
2Yoshimitsu Yasue176cm109kg38Japan 2cap
3Mototsugu HACHIYA180cm115kg24 
4Makoto Daniel Linde195cm110kg35 
5Epineri URUIVITI196cm122kg25 
6Sam Chongkit198cm108kg27Japan 7th
7Kohki SATO178cm96kg27 
8Jackson Hemopo195cm112kg28New Zealand  5cap
9Kota Iwamura182cm87kg29 
10James SHILLCOCK178cm88kg25 
11Alaia’sa Solarorand177cm94kg27 
12Fisipuna TUIAKI188cm105kg27JAPAN 7th
13Matt Vaega179cm94kg28 
14Tomoyuki OCHIAI185cm95kg28 
15Kazuki Ishida173cm85kg27WORLD SELECTION

** Players to watch **.

James SHILLCOCK. 178 cm, 88 kg, 25 years old, from England. He started the season on the bench as a reserve SO, but when he came on in place of main SO Matt TOOMUA, he secured his place with his accurate kicking. He is accurate on long and short PGs and his contested kicks with long dwell time make him a threat to the opposition.

Now, the match is about to begin.

From the very start of the match, the Dynaboars’ energetic advances were noticeable. They drove hard from the kick-off and had a scoring opportunity just beyond the opposition 22m line. Here, the Dynaboars launched a series of attacks that lasted for a total of 21 phases without any infringements. However, Sungoliath’s defence was also outstanding in not allowing a score here. In the end, Sungoliath won the ball back and survived the early pinch.

16 mins of the first half:

Sungoliath deployed from near halfway and connected with WTB LI, who quickly advanced and attacked deep into enemy territory. Sungoliath looked to have taken the lead, but a video decision ruled the try was disallowed due to an infringement. However, the Dynaboars were also fouled for offside, giving Sungoliath the right to a PG almost in front of the goal post, 20 metres out. This was scored by Sungoliath’s SO CRUDEN to make the score 3-0.

34 minutes into the first half:

Dynaboars made several advances deep into enemy territory but inevitably failed to score in-goal. When you keep missing scoring chances, the game turns to your opponents, and this happened again in this match.

Sungoliath got off to a good start from a 5m scrum in front of their own in-goal, made a gain on the right and then took a big step to the left, where CTB NAKAMURA’s kick-pass was caught by WTB LI, who showed great speed and ran into the middle right of the opposition in-goal for the try. Sungoliath ended up running nearly 100 metres at a stretch. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 10-3.

37 mins into the first half:

In a tight battle immediately after the kick-off following Sungoliath’s try, the Dynaboars had a PG opportunity following an infringement by their opponents, which was scored by SO SHILLCOCK to make the score 10-6.

40 minutes into the first half:

This time Sungoliath made a series of attacks in enemy territory and their first try chance was blocked by the Dynaboars. However, shortly afterwards, from a scrum on the right edge in front of the enemy in-goal, Sungoliath developed to the left and WTB LI was caught as he dived past two enemy defenders to close in on the in-goal. Here, a tight battle ensued, and Sungoliath secured the ball, which was then rolled out to the left and prop KOBAYASHI, running in from behind, scored a try in the middle on the left. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and Sungoliath ended the first half with the score 17-6.

Looking back at the first half, the Dynaboars were successful in playing in opposition territory for much of the half. However, from there, they were unable to stop Sungoliath’s counter-attacks, especially WTB LI, and allowed several Big Gains, which led to the loss of points.

If the Dynaboars had opted to play all PGs when their opponents committed infringements in opposition territory, the score would have been 50-50. That was the way we fought in the previous section, so it was a bit close, in my opinion, although it was a bit of a result.

Now let’s start the second half.

1 minute into the second half:

After a kick-off by Sungoliath, the ball was caught by Dynaboars who kicked it back. It was caught by Sungoliath’s SO CRUDEN, who stepped from it, dodged a couple of opposition defenders and went close to the opposition in-goal. He then passed to CTB NAKANO, who followed up from behind in front of the in-goal, and NAKANO went into the enemy in-goal and scored a try in the middle left. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 24-6.

Sungoliath quickly outscored the Dynaboars with tries at the end of the first half and early in the second half.

From this point on, Sungoliath’s attacking power exploded.

7 minutes into the second half:

Sungoliath scored a PG.

9 mins into the second half:

Sungoliath FB MATSUSHIMA picks up a spilled ball as the Dynaboars entered enemy territory and counter-attacked from deep in their own 22m right edge. MATSUSHIMA scored a try in the middle right of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 34-6.

17 minutes into the second half:

It was during this period that the Dynaboars finally scored their first try, after an infringement by their opponents, a PK gave the Dynaboars their own lineout on the left edge of the enemy in-goal. From here, a series of attacks developed and after 10 phases, a try was finally scored by replacement WTB BEDWELL-CURTIS at the right end of the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 34-13.

24 minutes into the second half:

Dynaboars lock URUIVITI was sent off for 10 minutes for a dangerous tackle. Immediately afterwards, Sungoliath had a lineout of their own deep on the enemy’s right flank. Here, Sungoliath moved forward in a maul attack and hooker NAKAMURA went straight over for a try in the middle right.

The conversion goal after the try failed, making the score 39-13.

27 minutes into the second half:

Sungoliath attacked a maul on the left side of the enemy 22m line, which was then extended to the right, where Sungoliath substitute CTB MORIYA rolled in an excellent golo punt into the enemy in-goal, which was held by No.8 TATAFU for a try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 46-13.

41 mins into the second half:

Towards the end of the match, Sungoliath made a series of attacks deep in enemy territory. The Dynaboars showed some dogged defence and after 16 phases of successive attacks, Sungoliath substitute WTB KAWASE scored a try in the left corner of the opposition’s in-goal. In the second half of each of the last three matches, Kawase showed his decisiveness by scoring tries in three consecutive matches.

The conversion goal after the try failed, leaving Sungoliath as the winners of the match with a final score of 51-13.

Sungoliath lost their opening game, but have since come into their own with five consecutive wins. In the next round, the Fuchu derby against Tokyo Brave Lupath is scheduled.

In contrast, the Dynaboars, who lost today, will host the Kobe Steelers at home in the next round – can the Dynaboars hold on?


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine