RUGBY JERSEY -2022-23 League One Division 2 Standings:

Urayasu D-Rocks VS Toyota Industries Corporation Shuttles Aichi

(Author: Azul, April 20, 2023)

On 9 April 2023, the Japan Rugby League One Division 2 standings began on this date. The league matches, which were played over the last week, will decide the three teams in the top group and the three teams in the bottom group. Thereafter, within each group, a round-robin competition will be played to determine the final standings. Therefore, even if a team finishes first in the Division 2 league matches, it will finish third if it loses the ranking round again.

The top groups in Division 2 are,

Urayasu D-ROCKS: 10 wins-0 losses- 1st place

Honda HEATS: 8 wins, 2 losses – 2nd place

Toyota Shuttles: 6 wins, 4 losses – 3rd place

The three teams are. This time I went to watch the Urayasu D-ROCKS vs Toyota Shuttles match.

The venue was Yumenoshima Athletics Stadium in Koto-ku, Tokyo, a six-minute walk from Shinkiba Station on the JR Keiyo Line, which was easily accessible from the station.

The capacity of the Yumenoshima Athletics Stadium is 5,050 people. The number of visitors on that day was 1,388

Let me now introduce the two teams playing on the day.

First, let me introduce the home team, Urayasu D-ROCKS.

Last season, they were relegated from Division 1 to Division 2 and have been fighting for promotion back to Division 1 this season. D-ROCKS, who have won 10-0 so far without any problems, will be looking to finish first in this round of the play-offs and head into the replacement round.

The starting line-up for D-ROCKS on this day was as follows.

1Kabuto ANOKU178cm105kg29 
2Franco MARAIS185cm107kg30 
3Syuhei Takeuchi183cm115kg25Japan 2cap
4Ryong Ji KIM192cm107kg28 
5Lourence ERASUMUS200cm123kg29 
6Jimmy TUPOU196cm113kg30 
7Tetta SHIGEMATSU178cm94kg23 
8Liam GILL185cm103kg23Australia 15cap
9Ren IINUMA170cm75kg22 
10Hayden CRIPPS177cm80kg32 
11Kai ISHII179cm85kg29 
12Samisoni TUA182cm108kg27 
13Shane GATES183cm95kg30Japan 4cap
14Larry SULUNGA183cm102kg24 
15Takuhei YASUDA177cm80kg26Japan 2cap

The team members were almost the same as in the last match of the league.

** Player to watch **.

Shane GATES. 183 cm, 95 kg, 30 years old. From South Africa. Position = CTB; Japan caps = 4. Joined Urayasu D-Rocs after Super Rugby’s Kings and Sun Wolves; first selected as a national team candidate in 2019, but suffered a serious injury in a match that same year that took 21 months to fully heal. After a long rehabilitation process, his indomitable fighting spirit saw him selected again for the national team. On this day, GATES earned a total of 50 caps for D-ROCKS (including its predecessor, Shining Arcs). Congratulations to him.

Then, I would like to introduce the Visitor Team of the day, the Toyota Shuttles.

Last season, the team was in Division 3, but after being promoted this season, they quickly moved up in Division 2 and are aiming for promotion to Division 1 next season. It is remarkable that this team has made it this far despite the fact that few of its players have represented their respective countries. We can’t take our eyes off them to see how far they can go.

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

1Hyosuke WATANABE167cm104kg27 
2Akito FUJINAMI170cm100kg27 
3Ryota FUKAMURA186cm125kg29 
4Taishi NAKAMURA189cm110kg27 
5James GASKELL201cm118kg32England 1cap
6Tama KAPENE190cm112kg23 
7Shoichi YURA180cm99kg26 
8Talifolofora TANGIPA186cm115kg26 
9Keita FUJIWARA174cm83kg28 
10Akihiro SHIMIZU175cm83kg27 
11Go NAKANO170cm85kg26 
12Josh MATAVESI188cm120kg32Fiji 24cap
13Hitoshi MATSUMOTO180cm92kg29 
14Hiroaki SAITO181cm90kg23 
15Tim SWIEL181cm88kg29 

** Player to watch **

Josh MATAVESI.(Player standing to the left of the referee in the middle of the photo) 188 cm, 120 kg, 32 years old. Position = SO, WTB, CTB, FB. 24cap for Fiji. played in RWC 2015 and 2019. Despite being a giant of a man weighing 120 kg, he is a utility player who can play any position in BK except SH, and is outstanding when it comes to speed and breaking through.

Let’s get the match underway.

1 minute of the first half:

Shortly after the kick-off to start the game, a ball kicked in by Shuttles is secured by a player from his own team, who inadvertently floats it backwards and was intercepted by D-ROCKS’ FL TUPOU. As it was, TUPOU slipped behind the Shuttles’ defensive net and passed to FB YASUDA, who ran straight into the opposition in-goal for the first no-whistle try.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 7-0 to D-ROCKS.

3 minutes into the first half:

The ball from the kick-off after the try was first caught by a D-ROCKS player. From here, the D-Rocks FW players connected, but the Shuttles defence was not tackling well and the D-Rocks players made one off-load pass after another to push forward, and finally a Shuttles player made a tackle, leading to a ruck, from which SH IINUMA passed to WTB SULUNGA, who advanced at full stretch, and as he approached the in-goal, he got tangled up with the opposition defence, but rolled a golo punt into the in-goal,and held it himself in the middle right of the in-goal to score a try. It was a series of no-whistle tries, which was rarely seen in professional matches. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 14-0.

The Shuttles players seemed to be fired up after this series of tries and the game was deadlocked for a while afterwards. However, the D-Rocks continued to attack from start to finish.

29 minutes of the first half:

The D-Rocks FWs dominated the game at set pieces, launching a number of successive attacks and gradually closing in on the opposition’s in-goal. Here, LO ERASMUS dragged one of the opposition defenders behind him and scored a try right in the middle. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 21-0.

When the home team D-Rocks scored a try, the D-Rocks cheerleaders performed a joyous dance, as shown in the photo above.

40 minutes of the first half:

It looked like it was going to end in a one-sided D-Rocks victory, but the Shuttles gained control of the ball and pushed deep into enemy territory when D-Rocks’ FL SHIGEMATSU was temporarily sent off for an infringement. Here, the Shuttles secured the ball from a lineout on their own ball, and the Shuttles developed from the pack and the ball was passed from CTB MATAVESI to WTB SAITO, who scored a try just under the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 21-7.

Also. Towards the end of the first half, D-Rocks prop TAKEUCHI committed an infringement and was temporarily sent off for 10 minutes. This meant that D-Rocks were without two of their frontrunners at the start of the second half, giving the Shuttles a chance to get back into the game. Expectations are high for a second half turnaround.

At this point, it was half-time. The match venue, Koto Athletics Stadium, is a short distance from Haneda Airport, and passenger planes passed overhead several times during the match.

Now it’s time for the second half to begin.

4 minutes into the second half:

With D-ROCKS temporarily down to two retired players, it was time for the SHUTTLES to take advantage of the game. However, despite this handicap, D-ROCKS showed their strength in the local battles. Particularly noticeable was the ability of the D-ROCKS backs players to break through. The individual skills of FB YASUDA were particularly impressive: when the SHUTTLES kicked deep into enemy territory, FB YASUDA was able to get past five or six men and quickly get in front of the goal. The D-ROCKS players are big compared to the SHUTTLES players, so when they accelerated and got the ball, the SHUTTLES defence couldn’t stop them.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful and the score, 28-7.

8 minutes into the second half:

The SHUTTLES got their own scrum just over the enemy 10m line after an infringement by their opponents, and from there the ball went to the left. Left wing WTB NAKANO made a great run down the left line, dodging one of the opposition defenders and scoring a try on the left edge of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was 28-12.

D-ROCKS have many larger players compared to SHUTTLES, so they showed their strength in the contact phases of the game and used offload passing to connect the ball. However, there were many penalties throughout the game. In order to win the replacement game, they will need to reduce the number of infringements.

In response, the SHUTTLES tried to break through in the form of quickly deploying the ball before making contact in attack. When this attack was successful and the ball was connected to the WTB, the crowd was captivated by several tricky moves that came into play along the way. It was a very well-designed attack. However, against the D-ROCKS, the defence did not work and allowed several decisive breakthroughs.

26 minutes of the second half:

In the second half, the SHUTTLES’ defenders started to function, preventing the D-ROCKS from making significant gains. With the game now stalemated and the score stuck, D-ROCKS were able to force a foul on their opponents in front of the opposition goal, where they opted to go for a PG. This was scored by SO CRIPPS, making the score 31-12.

This was the final score, and D-ROCKS beat SHUTTLES to take the first round of the play-offs, and will now play HONDA HEAT for the Division 2 title in the second round on 22 Apr.

And the SHUTTLES were denied by two consecutive no-win tries early in the match, which proved to be the deciding factor. However, if they show defensive tenacity in the second half, they could turn the tables in the replacement round. We are now looking forward to the changeover game.

After the match, the D-ROCKS players who were not in the game today saw us off as we left the stadium.

This is former Japan national team lock Thompson LUKE. Japan national team cap=71.


World famous player Israel FOLAU. He has a cap of 73 for Australia.

I am a big fan of FOLAU and was thrilled to see him up close.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


RUGBY JERSEY -2022-23 League One Division 2  Section 10:

Urayasu D-Rocks VS Mie HONDA Heats

(Author: Azul, April 2, 2023)

This time, I travelled to Niigata Prefecture to watch the League One Division 2 top-of-the-table match between Urayasu D-Rocks and Mie HONDA HEATS. The venue for the match was Niigata City Athletics Stadium.

The weather was unfortunate on this day, it was raining. The temperature at the start of the match was 8 degrees Celsius, which was quite cold. If it had been three degrees colder, it might have snowed.

The distance from Hachioji City, Tokyo, to Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture, was about 330 km. At first, I thought about taking the Shinkansen, but when I calculated the transport costs, the motorway toll for the round trip was about 10,000 yen, and the petrol cost was about 5,000 yen, for a total of about 15,000 yen. In contrast, the round trip using the Shinkansen was 24,000 yen. In my case, I chose the car because I like driving.

As it was already late March, I thought it might not snow, but Niigata Prefecture is indeed a heavy snowfall area, and when I entered Niigata Prefecture through the 10 km long Kan-etsu Tunnel, the mountains were still covered with snow, as you can see in the photo above, and I was surprised at how the landscape had changed completely. The car was fitted with winter tyres, so I thought it would be possible to drive, but I had never experienced traffic jams on snow-covered roads, so I thought I would need to be well equipped when heading north in the future.

I left Hachioji City at 6:30 am, but arrived in Niigata at 11:30 am, which took about five hours.

Now, let’s check the League One Division 2 standings, which have reached their final section.

Division 2
1Urayasu D-Rocks90042
2Mie Honda HEAT81038
3Toyota Shuttles AICHI54021
4Shimizu Koto Blue SHARKS36012
5Hino Red Dolphins1807
6Kamaishi Seawaves RFC1804

After the regular season, the teams are divided into the top three teams and the bottom three teams, with each team playing two games to decide the ranking. After the regular season, the top three teams and the bottom three teams play two games each. The top three teams from Division 2 then play a replacement match against the teams ranked 10-12 in Division 1, and the bottom three teams from Division 2 play a replacement match against the top three teams from Division 3. For each player, winning the replacement game means a better contract for the next season, so they will have a different level of enthusiasm for the game.

Let me introduce you to the two teams that will play today.

First, let me introduce the home team, Urayasu D-Rocks.

The D-Rocks, who last season called themselves the NTT Shining ARCS, have reorganised their team with the NTT-Docomo Red Hurricanes, also an NTT-affiliated company, to form a new team. In reality, leading professional players from NTT joined D-Rocks, while non-professional employees moved to the Red Hurricanes. Shinig ARCS was in Division 1 last season, but was relegated to Division 2 after losing to Sagamihara DYNABOARS in the replacement round. However, due to a number of losses caused by the new corona infection, the team had to play in the replacement round.

In the changeover round, the teams aiming for promotion from Division 2 are very determined to win, so the Division 1 teams have to be very determined or they will be kicked out.

Let’s take a look at the D-Rocks’ starting line-up for the day.

1Kabuto ANOKU178cm105kg29 
2Shokei Kin177cm95kg31Japan 7cap
3Syuhei Takeuchi183cm115kg25Japan 2cap
4Ryong Ji KIM192cm107kg28 
5Lourence ERASUMUS200cm123kg29 
6Jimmy TUPOU196cm113kg30 
7Tetta SHIGEMATSU178cm94kg23 
8Liam GILL185cm103kg23Australia 15cap
9Ren IINUMA170cm75kg22 
10Otere BLACK185cm86kg27 
11Kai Ishii179cm85kg29 
12Samisoni TUA182cm108kg27 
13Shane Gates183cm95kg30Japan 4cap
14Larry SULUNGA183cm102kg24 
15Takuhei Yasuda177cm80kg26Japan 2cap

** Player to watch **

Otere BLACK. 185 cm, 86 kg, 27 years old. Position = SO.Born in New Zealand, U20 NZ national team, Maori All Blacks selection. BLACK has played a wealth of games for strong SUPER RUGBY teams and uses his excellent tactical eye to set up the D-Rocks’ game. His style of play is back-to-basics, firstly, he does not make handling or decision- making errors. He also has a high success rate with place-kicks. Injuries are the only thing to watch out for. He also knows how to put on a show as a professional player, making bold passes and kicks when the game is on the line.

Next up is the visiting team of the day, HONDA HEAT.

Last season, they finished second in Division 2 and went on to play in the replacement round. Their opponents in the replacement round were NEC Green Rockets, but with one win and one defeat, they were left in Division 2 on goal difference. This season, the team’s line-up was strengthened by strong reinforcements, including world-class players, with strong support from parent company HONDA. The team will be looking to accumulate more wins in order to achieve their long-cherished dream of promotion to Division 1.

HONDA HEAT’s starting line-up for the day is as follows.

1Tatsuhiko Tsurukawa182cm114kg27 
2Seung Hyok LEE179cm110kg25 
3Taiki YOSHIOKA183cm113kg26 
4Viliami VULI201cm120kg26 
5Franco Mostert200cm112kg32South Africa 61cap
6Ryota Kobayashi182cm98kg30 
7Ryo Furuta183cm99kg26 
8Pablo MATERA190cm111kg29Argentina 90cap
9Kenta Yamaji171cm73kg33 
10Gwangtee OH180cm90kg26 
11Naoki MOTOMURA184cm88kg30 
12Fraser QUIRK187cm99kg24 
13Clynton KNOX182cm98kg29 
14Yoshikazu FUJITA185cm92kg29Japan 31cap
15Tom BANKS186cm93kg28Australia 21cap

** Players to watch **

Pablo MATERA. 190 cm, 111 kg, 29 years old. Position = FL, No.8. Argentina cap = 90. Most notable foreign player to join League One this season.

World No.1 FL, also named in the World Best 15, with inexhaustible stamina, insatiable fighting spirit and sound judgement backed up by extensive international experience. Rugby Japan will play Argentina at RWC 2023, and he is the player to be most wary of.

So, let the match begin. Kick-off on this day was 12:00.

The stadium was colder on this day than it looked. Also, this Niigata City Athletics Stadium is close to the sea, so the wind was quite strong. The number of spectators who gathered in this bad weather was 1,853.

16 minutes into the first half:

It was HONDA HEAT who scored the first point. The game was played in wet weather and the ball was slippery, so the basic strategy was to invite infringements in opposition territory and then steadily pile on the PGs.

HEAT’s SO OH scored and HEAT made the score 0-3.

27 minutes of the first half:

A fair amount of rain had fallen, so neither team was able to develop significantly. Therefore, contact play by the FWs was the main focus, but in this match, D-Rocks’ FW collection was superior to HEAT’s. When it came to the densely contested battles, the D-Rocks dominated the ball about 70 per cent of the time.

Then, D-Rocks got into enemy territory and won the ball in a series of rucks, and an infringement by their opponents gave them a PG opportunity in front of the goal posts.

Here, D-Rocks’ SO Black scored the PG to level the score at 3-3.

34 minutes of the first half:

A scoreless stalemate continued in the strong rain. The two sides went back and forth in a densely contested battle, but were unable to make any significant gains. A try, typical of a rain game, was scored by D-Rocks.

The D-Rocks team entered the opposition territory and spread the ball down the right flank. Here, D-Rocks’ SO Black rolled in an excellent golopunt down the right flank. The ball rolled down the right sideline, did not go off the line and was braked instead of going off the line, and D-Rocks WTB SULUNGA kicked the ball further into in-goal, where he ran in and held the ball in the middle of the enemy in-goal on the right. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and D-Rocks made the score 10-3.

In a low-scoring game in the rain, D-Rocks’ SO BLACK, WTB SULUNGA did a professional job.

The score remained the same in the first half and the game went to half-time.

The cold and strong winds made it a physically demanding game for both players and spectators. Will the second half be as exciting as the match? The players of both teams will have to pay attention to the battle.

Let’s get the second half underway.

2 minutes of the second half:

D-Rocks cleverly connected through a hole in the opposition’s defensive network. From a tight pack on the left side of the opposition line, prop TAKEUCHI grabbed the ball, broke behind the opposition line, connected with WTB ISHI, gained further and finally SH IINUMA, who followed up from behind, scored a try in the left corner of the opposition in-goal.

D-Rocks’ SO BLACK then scored the conversion goal from a difficult position in the left corner.

The score was 17-3, with D-Rocks taking a 14-point lead.

HONDA HEAT’s first try of the second half was more a result of a momentary lapse than a loss of power. With both teams still physically strong, the match became a stalemate from this point onwards.

However, the content of the game was that D-Rocks were mostly in the opposition’s half and HEAT were in front of their own in-goal, and were able to survive the pinch points.

D-Rocks prop TAKEUHI was outstanding in this match. Although he has only a few years of experience as a prop, he is already a member of the Japan national team and shows great potential. He also stood out in this match for his mobility to move forward with the ball. He is still only 25 years old and should develop well for Japan.

24 minutes of the second half:

D-Rocks continued to attack deep beyond the opposition 22m line, and HEAT were fouled for offside under pressure. The position of the infringement was close to the near goal posts, so the D-rocks opted for a PG, which they successfully converted. The score was now 20-3.

29 minutes of the second half:

HEAT were being pushed deep into their own half, but from there they counter-attacked and FB BANKS broke away, SO OH followed up and got behind the opposition’s defensive network. From there, FB BANKS received a return pass and ran straight into the opposition in-goal, scoring a try in the in-goal on the left. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 20-10.

The match ended with the score remaining the same, and D-Rocks were victorious.

In bad weather like this, the Urayasu D-Rocks, with their strong FWs, were able to show what they are capable of. However, HONDA HEAT have a lot of decisive runners in the BK and would like to play in good weather conditions for the deciding match if possible.

The top three teams in Division 2 have now been confirmed. The final ranking will be decided by the Division 2 ranking round, which will be held from 9 Apr. The replacement matches will then take place from 5 May. The pairings for the replacement matches are as follows.

Division 2 1st place vs Division 1 12th place

Division 2 2nd place VS Division 1 11th place

Division 2 3rd place vs Division 1 10th place

So the team that finish higher in the Division 2 standings will be able to play in the replacement round, with a more favourable combination.

League One is reaching the climax of the season.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine