RUGBY JERSEY – National University Rugby Championship Final

(Written by Azul, January 22nd, 2022)

January 9th, 2022. On this day, the National University Rugby Championship reached its final match. Representative schools from all over the country competed for supremacy, and there were two schools that made it to the final. The two schools that made it to the final are the Teikyo University Rugby Club and the Meiji University Rugby Club.

The venue for the final was the New National Stadium in Tokyo, the same place as the semifinals. It is the most appropriate stadium to compete for Japan’s best in domestic sports.

In contrast to the freezing cold weather of last week, the temperature was over 10 degrees Celsius, making it easy to watch the game. The kick-off time was 13:15. As in the semi-finals, the match was played at the New National Stadium, but the difference from last week was the Social Distance. Until last week, spectators had to sit with one seat open, but this week, there was no social distance. And the audience was already packed and seated.

The new Corona is starting to rage again, and I wonder if it will be okay. I’m a little worried.

Before we get to the games, let me introduce the two teams that have advanced to the finals.

**Teikyo University.**

The absolute champion of the past has returned to the final stage. They have won all seven of their matches in the Kanto University Rivalry.

*University Championship

Quarterfinal: vs Doshisha University – 76-24 

Semi-final: vs Kyoto Sangyo University – 37-30

In the previous week’s game against Kyoto Sangyo University, they won a close game for the first time this season. Have they been able to use this game as a stepping stone to improve their team strength? Or are they still in a wounded state after last week’s fierce battle? Nobody   knows until they actually play the game.

Next, let’s take a look at Meiji University.

**Meiji University**

The traditional school which has supported Japanese Rugby for long time. Nearly 80% of today’s spectators are also Meiji University fans. The thickness of the player layer is the best in Japan. The star player of the high school rugby is lined up.

The result of this season ended in the third place in the Kanto University Rivalry group. At the end of the season, they were defeated by rival schools Teikyo University and Waseda University in succession.

  • University Championship

4th round: vs Tenri University – 27-17

Quarterfinal: vs Waseda University – 20-15

Semifinal: vs Tokai University – 39-24

This season, Meiji University defeated Tenri University, which they were defeated in last year’s University Championship, and then Waseda University, which they were defeated in this season’s rivalry. Will they be able to take revenge against Teikyo University in the final match, betting on the pride of Meiji University that they will not lose to the same opponent in a row?

Let the match begin.

5 minutes into the first half:

Teikyo University secures the ball at a lineout into enemy territory, develops the ball, and CTB Oshikawa cuts in for a try in the middle left side. The conversion goal failed, and Teikyo University took the lead at 5-0. Teikyo University, as usual, came out firing from the start.

12 minutes into the first half:

Teikyo University pushed forward in front of the enemy’s goal, and Meiji University defended well until the fifth attack, when Teikyo pushed to the right and WTB Shirakuni receives the ball on the outside of the goal. The conversion goal failed. The score was 10-0, and Teikyo University took the lead.

23 minutes into the first half:

As expected, Meiji University’s engine started to rev up around this point, and the two teams continued to play evenly. This was where Teikyo University hooker Era shines. Meiji University developed the ball from a lineout in enemy territory, and with a sign play prepared, SH Iinuma ran out and WTB Ishida cut in from the opposite direction. Teikyo University hooker Era made a great reaction and turned over Ishida, the trump card of Meiji University, with a single tackle. It didn’t lead to a score, but it was one of the highlights of the game.

26 minutes into the first half:

Meiji University’s continuous attacks were working around this time, and they started to break through Teikyo’s thick defensive network several times. Meiji’s backs players were able to get past several Teikyo defenders and came close to scoring again. However, each time, Teikyo University finally took the ball away from Meiji team and they missed their chances.

However, if they continue to miss scoring chances, the flow of the game will be taken over by the opponent.

32 min. of the first half:

Teikyo University continued their attack in the enemy territory, developed to the right, No.8 Okui broke through, and in front of the goal, made a perfect pass to WTB Shirakuni, who scored a try in the right side. The conversion goal failed. The score was 15-0, and Teikyo University took the lead.

Still, today Meiji University was unable to get their own ball in the final move of the attack. On the contrary, Teikyo University’s defenders crushed all of Meiji’s decisive chances. From the 35th minute of the second half onwards, such scenes were seen again and again.

40th minute:

 Wanting to score a try in the first half, Meiji University won the ball in a lineout and tried to advance with a maul, but could not make much progress. When Meiji’s CTB threw a long pass, Teikyo University’s WTB Shirakuni intercepted it. Then he scored a try in the middle of the right side. The conversion goal failed. This was the fourth failure in a row. However, the score was now 20-0, and Teikyo University had taken a big lead. Meiji University was now in a tight spot.

This was the end of the first half.

In this year’s University Championship, I have seen many teams that have succeeded in recovering from the second half. I would like to see Meiji University make a comeback worthy of the final game.

And now, the second half of the final game began.

8 minutes into the second half:

Meiji University, refreshed at halftime and looking to gain momentum, entered enemy territory and won the ball in a lineout, then proceeded to form a maul. As they moved forward in the maul, hooker Tamori rushed forward alone. He dragged two Teikyo players behind him and scored a try in the middle right side. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score was 20-7.

From here, Meiji University stepped up their offense and cut the gain line several times. They came close to scoring a try if they could get one more player over the line. However, Teikyo University’s hooker Era and No.8 Okui, who are the key players of Teikyo University’s defense, regained the ball at key points and did not allow Meiji University to score more points.

25 minutes into the second half:

Teikyo University broke the stalemate that had lasted for a while. Flanker Tongatama, who came on as a substitute midway through the second half, was an impact player and crossed the gain line several times. When Teikyo University came close to scoring, No.8 Okui broke through five Meiji defenders and scored a try in the left middle. Teikyo University SO Takamoto finally succeeded in the conversion goal, making the score 27-7, giving Teikyo University a 20-point lead.

33 minutes into the second half:

Meiji University’s slogan for this season is “Meiji Pride”. Not to be defeated, Meiji University closed in on Teikyo University’s goal and persisted with a series of FW side attacks. The conversion goal was also successful, and the score was 27-14.

However, this was the final score of the day. Teikyo University won this season’s National University Rugby Championship. It was their 10th victory in total.

This is the end of the season for the university rugby, but after this, the JAPAN RUGBY LEAGUE ONE will start. I would like to go to the stadium and watch the game as much as possible.

** Jersey Collection 53 **

Replica model of the France jersey from the 3rd RWC in 1995. I got it on Mercari for 3,980 yen. This jersey is a typical jersey that has a very different valuation between overseas and domestic auctions. Overseas, the price is over 400 euros, but in Japan, the price is at most 4,000 yen (= 40 euros). There is a person selling this jersey at a Japanese auction with a price of 50,000 yen, but after two years, no one is buying it.

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