BLUES(Super Rugby) vs SUNGOLIATH(League One)
(Written by AZUL: February 14, 2024)
On February 3, 2024, an international rugby match was held at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground in Minato-ku, Tokyo. The participants in this match were,
1) Two SUPER RUGBY teams from the Southern Hemisphere
2) 4 teams from Japan’s League One.
This is the first time that SUPER RUGBY teams can be seen playing in a domestic stadium since Japan’s SUNWOLVES withdrew from Super Rugby in 2020.Super Rugby is considered the world’s strongest professional rugby league and was a valuable training ground for Japan’s national team players. After withdrawing from Super Rugby, the Japanese rugby world has been working to strengthen Japanese rugby by attracting many top players from around the world to the Top League, a domestic league played in Japan, and League One, a development of the Top League. The Cross Border Rugby will be held here to test the results of these efforts. Will Japan’s League One really be able to compete against Super Rugby? Many Japanese rugby fans were watching this match with great interest.
On this day, 13,278 spectators gathered at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium. This showed that the fans’ expectations for this match were high. That was to say, they expect Sungoliath, the representative of League One, to go toe-to-toe with the Blues, the powerhouse team of Super Rugby.
And the memorable first match was,
BLUES VS SUNGOLIATH
The first match was BLUES VS SUNGOLIATH.
Let me introduce both teams.
First, let me introduce the host team, Sungoliath.
Sungoliath was founded in 1980. In the RWC 2023, Sungoliath has 7 players representing Japan. In addition, Sungoliath has three players from other countries participating in RWC 2023. Fans could expect a more than even match against the Super Rugby powerhouse Blues in today’s match.
The starting lineup for today’s match was as follows
** Player to watch **
Nicolas SANCHEZ. 177 cm, 83 kg, 35 years old. He represented Argentina in the RWC for four consecutive tournaments since 2011 and was the leading scorer in the 2015 tournament. He excels in all the skills required of an SO: running, kicking, passing, and tackling. This was his first game for Sungoliath this season. A living legend, we couldn’t wait to see what SANCHEZ can do in this match.
Next, I would like to introduce BLUES, the visiting team this time.
The team belongs to Super Rugby and was founded in 1996. The team is based in Auckland, New Zealand. Auckland was originally the most active rugby area in New Zealand, and BLUES, based in Auckland, has won the Super Rugby championship three times in the past. The BLUES have won three Super Rugby championships and have produced many players who have represented New Zealand in the ALL BLACKS. How will Sungoliath take on this strong team?
The starting lineup for the day was as follows
** Player to watch **
Stephen PEROFETA. 184cm, 100kg, 26 years old. He is expected to be the successor to Beauden BARRETT in the BLUES. Will he be able to show the same great footwork on the game that he showed last year when he came to Japan?
Let the games begin. The kick-off time was 12:00.
It was a midwinter match with temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius, but the cold was not too much to bear in the sunlit part of the stands.
4 minutes into the first half:
The Blues kicked off to start the match. Sungoliath did not seem to be losing much in the contact play when the teams got into a tight battle. In a League One match, after such a long period of continuous attacks, Sungoliath would try to win the ball back, but they could not get it from the Blues and were forced to go in-goal, and finally, the Blues were able to score a try. The Blues lock DARRY scored a try right under the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 0-7 in favor of the Blues.
7 minutes into the first half:
From the restart kickoff, Sungoliath once attacked into enemy territory, but the Blues kicked from deep in their own territory, and from there, the Blues raised their defensive end line and crushed Sungoliath near halfway. From there, the Blues launched a series of attacks, and in a densely packed battle, Sungoliath was unable to win the ball back at all. The Blues continued to connect and finally hooker EKLAND scored a try in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal.
The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was 0-12.
15 minutes into the first half:
Once again, it began with the kickoff of the restart by Sungoliath. However, the Blues counter attacked again, and CTB Evans broke through the Sungoliath defense and quickly advanced deep into enemy territory. From this point, the Blues began another series of attacks, but Sungoliath was unable to win the ball back anyway. The Blues scored a try by WTB TANGITAU in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 0-19.
30 minutes into the first half:
Sungoliath finally started to show Turn Over at this time of the game, taking the ball away from their opponents. The SO of Sungoliath, SANCHEZ also made a strong tackle, which excited the crowd. Sungoliath finally made their way into the enemy territory, where they drew a foul on their opponents and won a lineout just in front of the enemy in-goal. The Blues then took the ball, but Sungoliath continued to play in the opposition’s territory. Sungolith then formed a maul in front of the enemy in-goal and attempted to advance, but this was blocked by the Blues. From there, the team moved to the left, and the ball was passed to FB MATSUSHIMA, who scored a try near the goal post as they entered the enemy’s in-goal.
Sungoliath finally scored their first points. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 7-19.
The first half ended with the score at 7-19, and at 0-19 it looked like it was going to be a one-sided game, but Sungoliath had time to attack, and the game became more interesting.
After about 10 minutes of halftime, the second half kicked off.
3 minutes into the second half:
Sungoliath did improve from the first 20 minutes of the first half, when they were unable to win the ball back at all in a dense battle. However, in the second half, the Blues were unable to stop a series of offloaded passes after being tackled, as the Blues deployed from their own half and broke through the Sungoliath defensive net on the right flank, connecting with flanker SEGNER to substitute SH FUNAKI, he scored a try in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, making the score 7-24.
6 minutes into the second half:
The Blues offense came on strong and Sungoliath could not stop it.
From the kick-off after the try, the Blues deployed and started a series of attacks, making steady progress, and the Blues came close to the enemy’s in-goal from the left side, and from there they went wide right and finally scored a try by WTB TANGITAU in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, making the score 7-29.
30 minutes into the second half:
Sungoliath had more chances to attack in this period. Substitutes were aggressively attacking in quick succession, getting deep into enemy territory to the delight of the crowd, but the Blues’ defensive netting was too tight to score when it looked like they might score.
Sungoliath was close to the enemy in-goal when they dropped the ball and it was kicked in by the Blues’ No. 8 SOTUTU. Then the Blues’ WTB BANKS chased the ball, ran almost 80 meters at a stretch, caught the ball, and scored a try in the left corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 7-36.
34 minutes into the second half:
The Blues caught the ball from the restart kickoff and began another series of attacks, which Sungoliath was unable to stop until late in the game. The Blues continued to attack until they were deep in enemy territory. From the left edge in front of the enemy’s in-goal, the Blues went wide to the right, and finally FB Forbes scored a try in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 7-43.
In the end, the score remained the same and the match was over; a complete defeat for Sungoliath. In this match, Sungoliath had many things to reflect on.
Sungoliath lost the game by far the most at the point of contact where they were competing with their opponents.
Sungoliath was slower in gathering loose balls than the Blues, and lost most of the games in close quarters.
The Cross Border Rugby will be played for four matches in total, and if the Blues lose all of them, this tournament may disappear from next season onward. This means that since Japan withdrew from the Super Rugby, they have lost more ground to the stronger rugby nations. Therefore, we hope that the Japanese teams will be more determined in the next round and beyond.
The Cross Border Rugby will be played for a total of four matches, and if the Japanese teams lose all of them, the tournament may disappear after next season. This would mean that Japan has not progressed at all since their withdrawal from the Super Rugby. Therefore, we hope that the Japanese teams will be inspired in the next and subsequent rounds of this interchange.
Stop the war.
Peace to Ukraine