RUGBY JERSEY -The Cross Border Rugby

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,


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

Suntory Sungoliath
1Yukio MORIKAWA180cm113kg30 
2Kienori GO177cm100kg27 
3Kuhn BRADLEY175cm118kg22 
4Sione LAVAMAI189cm120kg29Japan 1cap
5Harry HOCKINGS206cm118kg25 
6Sam JEFFRIES198cm114kg30 
7Sota OKETANI175cm98kg29 
8Tamati IOANE187m121kg26 
9Naoto SAITO165cm73kg26Japan 19cap
10Nicolas SANCHEZ177cm83kg35Argentina  104cap
11Shota EMI183cm95kg32 
12Shogo NAKANO186cm98kg26Japan 7cap
13Taiga OZAKI184cm93kg25 
14Ryosuke KAWASE183cm89kg24 
15Kotaro MATSUSHIMA178cm88kg30Japan 55cap

** 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

1Joshua Fusitu’a183cm118kg22 
2Kurt Eklund180cm103kg32 
3Angus Ta’avao194cm124kg33 
4Patrick Tuipulotu198cm120kg31 
5Sam Darry203cm110kg23 
6Adrian Choat190cm100kg26 
7Anton Segner192cm108kg23 
8Hoskins Sotutu192m106kg25 
9Sam Nock178m85kg27 
10Stephen PEROFETA184cm100kg26 
11Kade Banks183cm92kg23 
12Leo Gordon187cm100kg20 
13Corey Evans181cm96kg24 
14Caleb Tangitau188cm98kg20 
15Cole Forbes180cm91kg23 

** 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


RUGBY JERSEY – National University Rugby Championship Final

 (Written by Azul: February 2, 2024)

The 60th National University Rugby Football Championship, which started last November, finally reached its final day on January 13, 2024. The venue was the National Stadium in Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.

The two teams that faced the stage for the fine final were the Teikyo University Rugby Club, aiming for a third consecutive championship title, and the Meiji University Rugby Club, a traditional school aiming to win the championship on the 100th anniversary of its founding.

The number of fans who gathered at the National Stadium that day was 18,374. For a final, the crowd was small.

Unlike in previous years, the League One match was held at a different venue on this day, so the fans had to disperse. We expect the competition to be as hot as at other venues.

The two schools met once before on November 19 in an official match of the Kanto University Rugby Rivalry Group, and on that occasion, Teikyo University won handily, 43-11. Last season, Teikyo University beat Meiji University to the ground, but in this year’s fall match, Meiji University was no match for Teikyo University in the battle at the point of contact. The gap in power between the two was narrowing.

Here is the latest information on both schools going into the finals.

First, let’s start with the previous champion, Teikyo University.

Teikyo University Rugby Club was founded in 1970. Compared to Waseda University, Meiji University, and Keio University, Teikyo University has a shorter history, but its performance in recent years has been overwhelmingly superior to the other schools. The team won 9 consecutive university championships from the 46th to the 54th, then 58th and 59th, and is aiming for a third consecutive championship at this year’s tournament. 7 players, led by captain Himeno, were on the Japanese team for RWC 2023.

The team used to play running rugby like Waseda, but now plays all-around rugby, scoring points from all parts of the field, both FW and BK. Teikyo University itself is capable of competing with teams in the lower divisions of League One, but unfortunately, the difference in strength between the professional teams and the university teams is now so great that they no longer have the opportunity to play each other in the Japan Championship. Perhaps the current Teikyo University needs an opponent who can fully demonstrate its power.

This day’s starting lineup was as follows.

Teikyo University 
1Taishi TSUMURA172cm108kg22 
2Hayate ERA171cm100kg22U-18 JAPAN
3Taro UESUGI176cm113kg21 
4Takuma MOTOHASHI193cm118kg21 
5Ryeon YOON186cm108kg22 
6Keito AOKI187cm110kg21 
7Akito OKUI177cm103kg22U-18 JAPAN
8Shuto NOBUHARA182cm100kg21U-18 JAPAN
9Kumusu LEE174cm80kg21 
10Hitaka INOUE175cm80kg22 
11Tomu TAKAMOTO182cm90kg22U-18 JAPAN
12Yoshiki OMACHI172cm82kg19U-18,U-20 JAPAN,JJ
13Keito KAIDA180cm85kg22 
14Shinya KOMURA179cm87kg21 
15Taiki YAMAGUCHI177cm90kg22U-18,U-20 JAPAN
JJ=Junior Japan

** Player to watch **

Taiki YAMAGUCHI. 177 cm, 90 kg, 22 years old. Position = FB. graduated from Nagasaki Hokuyodai High School. representative of Japan U-18,U-20. He is a late bloomer, having only secured a regular position in his third year at Teikyo University, but the depth of Teikyo University’s roster is such that a player of this caliber cannot play until his third year, He has contributed to Teikyo University’s winning streak, and was expected to play a key role in the offense and defense in the finals.

Next, I would like to introduce the Meiji University Rugby Club.

Founded in 1922. This season marks the 100th anniversary of its founding. In order to win the championship on this 100th anniversary, the team has acquired a large number of promising new students, especially this season. The Japanese high school students entering this year are all highly capable players, known as the “Golden Generation of Rugby. Compared to other universities, which have acquired one or two U-18 Japan representatives, Meiji University has acquired as many as 10 U-18 Japan representatives this season. Unfortunately, the golden generation of players who played in this day’s final were not yet available at Meiji University, which has a strong roster of players, but Meiji University is expected to have great players in the tournament next year and beyond.

The starters for the day were as follows.

Meiji University 
1Junki TOKODA178cm103kg22 
2Junichiro MATSUSHITA173cm99kg22 
3Keijiro TAMEFUSA180cm110kg22U18 Japan
4Reijiro YAMAMOTO191cm111kg21U18 Japan
5Daichi SATO183cm100kg22 
6Yuta MORIYAMA183cm100kg22 
7Taisei FUKUDA173cm95kg21 
8Taishiro KIDO185m104kg21 
9Shu HAGIHARA173m77kg22 
10Kotaro ITO176cm86kg22 
11Kohaku EBISAWA173cm80kg19 
12Yuya HIROSE179cm94kg22U18 Japan
13Yuta AKIHAMA175cm85kg21 
14Kohei YASUDA183cm88kg20 
15Shotaro IKEDO181cm90kg22 

** Player to watch **

Kohaku EBISAWA. 173cm, 80kg, 19 years old. He is a graduate of Houtoku Gakuen High School. He is the only freshman among the regular members of Meiji University this season. He is not a member of the 10 U-18 high school representatives that Meiji University has acquired this season, but he has surpassed them in terms of his performance. His concentration on scoring chances and his decisiveness in scoring tries have made him an indispensable asset to Meiji University.

Let the game begin. Kickoff for the day was at 15:10.

3 minutes into the first half:

The temperature that day was very cold, cloudy and snowy.

Teikyo University attacked deep into the enemy territory at the start. Meiji University kicked the ball from an in-goal dropout, and Teikyo University secured the ball at the right edge of the enemy territory, and from there, the ball was deployed to the left. When Teikyo University’s WTB TAKAMOTO received the ball in the left corner, he was surrounded by three defenders, but he easily dodged them with cut-in play and scored the first try in the in-goal in the middle left of the enemy line. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 7-0.

It was a typical Teikyo University attack that kicked into high gear right from the start of the match.

As is Teikyo University’s winning pattern, once they score the first try, they start attacking in waves, and the crowd was excited as both sides attacked deep into the enemy territory on more and more occasions.

14 minutes into the first half:

Around this time, cold rain began to fall. Teikyo University dominated the scrums at set plays, but Meiji University was not far behind. Teikyo University then moved steadily forward into the enemy territory, closing in on the enemy in-goal, but Meiji University managed to push the ball back.

20 minutes into the first half:

The weather changed from rain to hail, and thunderstorms began to threaten the area near the stadium, so the game was suspended.

The interruption lasted for an hour.

Let’s see how this unexpected interruption will affect the rest of the match.

26 minute into the first half:

2 minutes after the break, Teikyo University made individual contact and kept pushing forward. Then, finally Teikyo University’s flanker AOKI scored a try in the left center of the enemy’s in-goal.

However, this try was disallowed by a video judgment.

Teikyo University regrouped from this point, and from a lineout near the 22-meter line, they formed a maul and surged forward, with hooker ERA scoring the try in the middle of the field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 14-0.

Teikyo University will have to keep up the momentum and push Meiji University over the line.

35 minutes into the first half:

Meiji University, which had a poor record at set pieces and in contact play around the tight pack, tried to use the ground more spaciously and attacked.

With a series of tightrope walking attacks, they managed to get deep into the enemy territory.

From a position close to the enemy in-goal, Meiji University’s CTB Akihama cut inside from the line and scored a try in the middle left of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed.

39 minutes into the first half:

Meiji University regained momentum in this period by scoring a try after being pushed back by Teikyo University from start to finish.

Meiji University was again pushed by Teikyo University to the in-goal, but Meiji University FB Ikedo kicked the ball back and it rolled around the 22-meter line in enemy territory.

The ball was wet with snow, and Teikyo University FB YAMAGUCHI knocked it on. This allowed Meiji University to attack the enemy goal line at once. From here, they formed a scrum of their own ball, from which they secured the ball, and Meiji University developed to the left side of the blind side, which passed to WTB EBISAWA, who dodged one of the opposing day defenders and scored a try in the middle of the enemy in-goal on the left side. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 14-12, and Meiji University was within 2 points at the end of the first half.

The first half ended there.

The game progressed with Teikyo University having the upper hand, but two tries in the final minutes brought Meiji University back to even terms. Can Meiji University keep this momentum going into the second half?

Let’s get the second half underway.

4 minutes into the second half:

Meiji University went on the offensive early in the second half, and just as they were getting into the enemy territory, they made a mistake on a sign play, which allowed Teikyo University to attack the other way. Teikyo University went deep into the enemy territory, but Meiji University committed a foul and Teikyo University opted for the PG. FB YAMAGUCHI made a steady kick to make the score 17-12.

8 minutes into the second half:

Teikyo University made a number of handling errors during this period, and the game became deadlocked. However, Meiji University committed an infringement just as Teikyo University was entering enemy territory. Teikyo University then opted for another PG, and FB YAMAGUCHI converted it to make the score 20-12, giving Teikyo University an 8-point lead.

10 minutes into the second half:

Teikyo University kicked an in-goal dropout, which extended to the halfway point, and Meiji University FB Ikedo caught it and attempted a DG from this position. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful, but the crowd at the stadium was thrilled.

20 minutes into the second half:

The ground of the National Stadium became a blizzard as snow came down at a great rate. The snow made it impossible for the teams to connect the ball and attack in succession, so they kicked kicks against each other, and the team that made a mistake was the one that was attacked. Meiji University dominated the ball during this period and gradually pushed deeper and deeper into the enemy territory. With 7 to 8 meters to go, it was in-goal, but Meiji University committed an infringement and it became a Teikyo ball scrum.

Teikyo University then tried to kick the ball out, but Meiji’s WTB EBISAWA ran in from the outside and caught the ball in play.

However, Meiji University dropped the ball, which was kicked deep into the enemy territory by Teikyo University’s WTB TAKAMOTO, which was picked up by Teikyo University and deployed, and finally CTB KAIDA picked it up 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 27-12.

23 minutes into the second half:

Meiji University was down by 15 points, but their spirits were not yet dampened. After entering the enemy territory, Meiji University’s SO Itoh made a spirited tackle, knocking down his opponent and creating a tight pack, where Teikyo University committed a foul for not releasing the ball. Meiji University opted to go for the PG, which CTB HIROSE converted to make the score 27-15.

37 minutes into the second half:

The snow and cold weather led to numerous handling errors by both teams, causing play to be suspended more often than not. Teikyo University got into enemy territory and drew a collapsing infringement from their opponents with a powerful scrum to close in on the enemy in-goal. From a penalty kick, Teikyo University had the ball in their own lineout, and after securing the ball, they moved forward in a maul, with hooker ERA scoring the final try in the right center. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 34-15.

With just over a minute remaining, Teikyo University was assured of victory. In the end, Teikyo University’s SO INOUE kicked the ball out of the scrum to end the game.

The match turned out to be a hotly contested affair with many highlights, as Meiji University was within striking distance of Teikyo University until the 37th minute of the second half.

With this victory, Teikyo University has now won three consecutive University Championships. This is the end of this season’s college rugby, but what kind of rugby will be shown next season when the players are replaced? Personally, I am looking forward to seeing how the 19-year-old players, who are considered the golden generation, will develop.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine