(written by Azul, January 30th, 2022)
Japan Rugby League One, which started on January 8, 2022, has reached its fourth round this week. Let’s take a look at the standings of Division One until the third round.
Looking at the picture above, the first place for the Sungokiath is in order, but the NEC Green Rockets in 5th place and the Toyota Verblitz in 6th place are in the top group, even though they have not won a single match. This is due to the fact that they have non-conference wins due to the new Corona. NEC Green Rockets, in particular, had lost all of their games in last year’s Top League, so they were at the bottom of the pre-war rankings. At the moment, they have an unexpected tailwind. The bottom three teams will face a replacement game, so can they really stay in Division 1? This is very interesting.
I was scheduled to watch the match between Shining Arcs Tokatsu and NEC Green Rockets at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium last week, but the match was cancelled due to the outbreak of a new corona infection in Shining Arcs. I was very sorry. It’s a shame.
And now, let’s get back on track.
Brave Lupus Tokyo vs Toyota Verblitz
at the Komazawa Athletic Stadium in Tokyo.
The temperature was a cool 8 degrees Celsius, but it wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be since there was almost no wind and my seat was in the sun for the whole game. Today’s game was a home game for the Brave Lupus, so there were related decorations near the entrance gate.
The photo above is the entrance gate.
Decoration of WTB Naikabura (Japan national team candidate) of the Brave Blue Pass.
A balloon of Lupus-kun, the mascot of the Brave Lupus.
And I entered the stadium. My seat for today was in the South Stand, row S1, number 97. Oh, I was able to sit in the first row again. It’s a great seat for taking pictures.
Before the game starts, let me introduce the two teams.
＊＊ Brave Lupus Tokyo ＊＊
Founded in 1948. The team has won the Top League championship five times in the past. A strong team with four candidates for the Japanese national team and many experienced national team players. The team’s traditional style of play is to push forward with power, centering on their powerful FW.
＊＊ Toyota Verbritz ＊＊
The team was established in 1941. Although they have not won any championships in the Top League in recent years, they have won five championships in the National Corporate League before that. They have the ability to make it to the top every year. This team also has a strong lineup with five candidates for the Japanese national team, two candidates for the South African national team, and many others with national team experience. The team’s style of play is similar to that of the Brave Lupus, but they have a strong FW team in front of them. The highlight of the season is the new addition of South African flanker Dutoit. He is 200cm tall and the best player in the world for 2019.
So, let the match begin.
Both teams are full of energy from the start, as their team color is rugby of power. In particular, the power of the Brave Lupus to come forward is amazing. Will they be able to hold it till the end with such a rush?
The first goal was scored in the 10th minute of the first half. The Brave Lupus attacked into the enemy territory and formed a maul in front of the opponent’s goal. Gradually, they pushed forward, and finally, SH Ogawa passed two players from the side of the maul and scored the first try in the middle right corner. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 7-0 in favor of the Brave Lupus.
The game remained deadlocked for the rest of the game, but there were some great plays during the stalemate.
15 minutes into the first half: Verblitz flanker Du Toit chased down Toshiba WTB Hamada, tackled him, knocked him down, and then jackaled him in a series of moves. Normally, this is a two-step process: tackle, reposition, and jackal. Furthermore, despite being a giant of a man, standing 2 meters tall and weighing 120 kilograms, he was able to tackle at his feet with an extremely low posture. As expected of the world’s best player.
Also 15 minutes into the first half: SH Ogawa of the Brave Lupus kicked the ball 50:22 out of a scrum in his own half. Fifty-Twenty kicks is a new rule. If the ball is kicked from the team’s own area and bounces once in the opposing team’s area then go out from the touch line of the opposing team, the next lineout starts with the kicker’s ball. If this is decided, you will be able to start the lineout with your own ball in front of the opponent’s goal, which will give you a chance to score at once.
20 minutes into the first half: SO Taylor of the Brave Lupus succeeded in a PG. The score is now 10-0 in favor of the Brave Lupus.
28 minutes into the first half: The Verblitz finally responded. WTB Okada cut in from the left side to the center and scored a try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 10-7, with the Velbritz closing the gap to three points.
31 minutes into the first half, Taylor scored a PG to make the score 13-7, giving the Brave Lupus a six-point lead.
33 minutes: After a foul by the opposing team, Verblitz won a lineout deep in the enemy territory and formed a maul. Verblitz’s hooker Kato scored a try in the middle left corner. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 13-14. The score is now 13-14, and the Velbrits have finally turned the tables.
40th minute of the first half: Verblitz scored a PG at the end of the first half to make the score 13-17, and the first half ended with Verblitz taking a 3-point lead.
Today’s game reminds us that rugby is a contact sport. Towards the end of the first half, Verblitz came into their own, and the game became worth watching.
According to the tournament office, the number of spectators today was 2,841. It’s a bit sad for a stadium that can hold up to 20,010 people, but the increase in the number of new corona infections is now reaching its peak, so it’s a good thing that the games were not held without spectators.
Let’s start the second half.
2 minutes into the second half: The Brave Lupus are looking to get back into the game and are attacking hard at the start of the second half. After a series of attacks, the Brave Lupus moved to the right, and CTB Tamanivalu threw a pass to the outside. WTB Naikabura caught the pass and used his individual skills to get past three players to score a try in the center.
The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 20-17, and the Brave Lupus turned the tables and took a three-point lead.
Both sides were determined not to lose, and both sides scored PGs in the middle of the game.
6 and 14 minutes into the second half: Verblitz scores a PG. 20-23, Verblitz again.
17 minutes into the second half: Brave Lupus scored a PG to tie the score at 23-23.
20 minutes into the second half: Verblitz scores another PG to take a three-point lead, 23-26.
23 minutes into the second half: The decisive try of the game. Verblitz’s SH Fukuda picked up a spilled ball in his own half and ran over 80 meters solo. Just before the goal line, he was caught by Tamarivalu, CTB of Brave Lupus, but Tamanivalu was sent off for 10 minutes for an illegal tackle.And seven points were added to the score for what would have been a try for the Verblitz had it not been for the foul. As a result, the score was 23-33, and the Verblitz had a 10-point lead.
After that, the game was deadlocked again, and the Brave Lupus came close to scoring several times, but could not score. The game ended with a final score of 23-33 in favor of the Verblitz.
The Player of the Match for this match was Kenta Fukuda, SH of the Velbrits, who graduated from Meiji University in 2019 and joined the Velbrits, finally being able to play in an official match. The fact that even university stars can’t become regular players right away shows the depth of the Verblitz squad.
Japan Rugby League One is clearly more powerful than last year, with stars from around the world coming together, and I am looking forward to the future matches.
Next week, February 5, at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo
Shining Arcs Tokyo Bay Urayasu vs Saitama Wild Knights
Lastly, at the entrance of the stadium, there was a collection of donations for the Kingdom of Tonga due to the recent eruption of an underwater volcano in Tonga. I was able to contribute a small amount of money. I pray for the earliest possible recovery.
＊＊ Jersey Collection 54 ＊＊
This is a French tricolor jersey. This is not a replica of the rugby team, but as a fan of the French national team, I can’t help but want one when I see a jersey in the tricolor blue. I bought it for 3,980 yen on Yahoo! Auctions.