RUGBY JERSEY~Japan Rugby Test Match 2022~Japan SAKURA 15 vs Ireland Women XV~ Round 2

(Author: Azul, August 28, 2022)

The final game of this summer’s four-game series for the Japanese women’s national rugby team against the Irish women’s national team was held on August 27, 2022. On this day, the maximum temperature during the day reached 34 degrees Celsius. Naturally, it was also a night game. Kickoff was at 19:00.

The venue for the match was Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Minato-ku, Tokyo. Last week’s match had less than 1,000 spectators, which was a bit sad, but on this day, 4,569 spectators gathered, which was about the same number as a regular match in League One.

In the first test match against the Irish national team, the score was 22-57, and SAKURA 15 suffered a heavy defeat. In the process, several issues were revealed that need to be corrected.

(1) When the Irish team attacked a maul in front of the in-goal, could the team, SAKURA 15, stop the maul attack? In the first test match, four tries were scored by the maul attacks of Irish National team.

(2) The Irish team scored two tries in a row by sign play in the BK attack (both CTBs crossed dummies, then the FBs joined the line and deployed the attack).

(3) SAKURA 15 had a 50% success rate for their own ball lineout at the set play, but can they improve on this?

SAKURA 15 had one week to recover from the defeat in the first test match, so they will need to show effective countermeasures against the same kind of attack by the Irish team as last week.

Here are the latest information updates on both teams.

First, let me introduce the visiting team, the Irish team.

Today’s starting lineup is as follows

No.Nameheightweightage Caps
1Laura Feely173cm89kg3323
2Neve Jones157cm70kg2512
3 Linda Djougang168cm86kg2623
4Hanna Oconnor175cm87kg3413
5Nichola Fryday175cm87kg2728
6Jo Brown170cm86kg327
7Edel McMahon163cm72kg2820
8Grace Moore173m80kg264
9Ailsa Hughes163m68kg3115
10Dannah O’Brien168cm71kg181
11Aoife Doyle163cm64kg2711
12Enya Breen173cm80kg2315
13Aoife Dalton157cm65kg191
14Natasja Behan170cm71kg221
15Méabh Deely164cm67kg221

** Players to watch out for **

Nichola Fryday. 175 cm, 87 kg, 27 years old. Position = lock. She started playing rugby in her sophomore year of college. However, just two years later, she became a member of the Irish national team, and this year, at the age of 27, she became the captain of the Irish national team. She is the spiritual pillar leading the strong FW of the Irish national team.

Next, I would like to introduce the Japanese national team SAKURA 15.

In the four consecutive test matches this summer, the team has so far won one game and lost two. This final match is a crucial point for SAKURA 15. Today’s starting members are as follows.

1Saki MINAMI163cm70kg2624
2Nijiho NAGATA162cm79kg217
3Makoto LAVEMAI167cm91kg2516
4Maki TAKANO170cm77kg2715
5Yuna SATO170cm75kg255
6Seina SAITO164cm72kg3230
7Iroha NAGATA167cm70kg2514
8Ayano NAGAI168cm84kg219
9Megumi Abe147cm53kg269
10Ayasa OTSUKA163cm63kg238
11Komachi IMAKUGI158cm62kg208
12Sione NAKAYAMA166cm70kg236
13Mana FURUTA167cm69kg2613
14Hinano NAKURA170cm75kg279
15Rinka MATSUDA170cm75kg204

** Players to watch out for **

Saki MINAMI. 163 cm, 70 kg, 26 years old. Position = prop. Japan national team caps = 24 caps. captain of Japan national team. Japan’s women’s rugby team suffered a disastrous defeat in the seven-a-side competition at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, and attention to women’s rugby has been quickly toned down in Japan. However, their historic win against Australia in the 2022 Test match brought them back into the spotlight, but there was no TV coverage of that match. Because no one expected that victory beforehand. Whether or not women’s rugby will attract more attention in the future will depend on how the women’s RWC match in NZ in October turns out, starting with this match. Will the SAKURA 15’s MINAMI, captain of SAKURA 15, can lead her team to victory?

Let the games begin.

SAKURA 15 vs Ireland national team, kickoff at 19:00. The temperature was 30 degrees Celsius at night, and it was a tropical night.

3 minutes into the first half

SAKURA 15 kicked off the game. The Irish national team won the ball from a dense battle in their own half, and SO O’Brien kicked for touch. This went off the line just beyond the enemy 22m line. This was a 50-22 rule, and the Irish team had their own lineout deep in enemy territory, with SO O’Brien showing great skill. The Irish team won the ball there and started their signature maul attack. Even the Japanese blindside FW joined the maul. The Irish SH Hughes passed to WTB Behan in front of the in-goal and Behan scored a try. After the try, the conversion attempt failed. The score was 0-5, and the first point was scored by the Irish national team.

As a result, SAKURA 15 lost a point from a maul attack by the Irish national team. Will SAKURA 15 be able to recover from this?

16 minutes into the first half

SAKURA 15 got deep into the enemy territory, and their scrums stabilized and they gradually took control of the game. From the scrum, the ball developed to the right side, and when it was passed to the SO OTSUKA, she found space in the opposing defense and slid into the right center of the opponents’ in-goal, scoring a try. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was tied 5-5.

20 minutes into the first half

SAKURA 15 was pinned down by a maul attack by the Irish team near their own 22m line. The score was tied 5-5. SAKURA 15 stopped the advance of the other team’s maul, and was able to hold off a series of attacks by the Irish team.

34 minutes in the first half

SAKURA 15 got into the enemy’s territory, and was able to control the ball for a long period of time. SAKURA 15 continued to attack deep into the enemy territory and continued to attack deep into the enemy territory and drew an offside foul from the Irish team at the 22-meter line in front of the goal post. Here, SAKURA 15 showed a signature play. From this point, the SH passed to the SO at the right side, where FB MATSUDA ran to the opposite side, received the ball, and advanced. MATSUDA ran past two Irish defenders and scored a try in the middle of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 12-5, and SAKURA 15 took the lead.

The first half ended with SAKURA 15 leading with the same score. It was significant that they were able to stop the maul attack of the Irish national team, which they had been unable to stop at all in the first test match.

It was half time here.

My seats today were in this area. With the exception of some parts of the main stand, the seating was mostly unreserved. Hence, I had to arrive about an hour before kickoff to get a better position to take pictures. If you are relegated to a seat too far back, it is difficult to take good pictures.

An unusual event took place at halftime. It was the awarding ceremony of representative caps to the past Japanese women’s national team players. I had no idea that women’s national team players had not been given national caps until now. The women’s RWC started in 1991, and at that time, the women’s team members participated in the event at their own expense. I would like to pay tribute to those who have supported women’s rugby for more than 30 years after that through harsh treatment.

With this cap awarding ceremony, this day became a historic anniversary for women’s rugby in Japan.

And the second half began.

9 minutes into the second half

SAKURA 15 had the longer possession of the ball in this match. SAKURA 15 has been struggling in the lineout, but has the upper hand in the scrums. SAKURA 15 deployed from their own line, the SO OTSUKA got behind the enemy defense, and connected directly with the WTB NAKURA. She was close to the enemy’s in-goal. After that, in a tight battle in front of the goal, the FWs of SAKURA 15 attacked in succession, and finally, the SHs moved to the right, and a skip pass from the SO led to the ball to the WTB NAKURA. She scored a try in the left corner of the enemy’s in-goal, dragging one defensive player behind her. After the try, the conversion goal failed. The score was 17-5.

15 minutes into the second half.

While the Irish national team continued to attack in the opponent’s territory, the prop SAKOH who was substituted at SAKURA 15 succeeded in winning the ball in a dense area. SAKURA 15 attempted to attack from there, expanding to the left. The ball was passed to FB MATSUDA, who ran along the left touchline, and she handoffed the defenders and played them away. MATSUDA ran into the enemy in-goal and scored a try in the middle of the left field. The crowd was on their feet and screaming. This scene was the most exciting of the day. The conversion goal after the try was missed. The score was 22-5.

19 minutes into the second half:

The Irish national team continued their attack in the enemy territory, and once they were close to the opponent’s in-goal. SAKURA 15 committed an infringement and the Irish team opted for a penalty kick. From the lineout, the Irish team attempted a maul attack. SAKURA 15 stopped Ireland’s advance for a moment, However, the Irish team again moved forward with a maul attack, and scored a try right in the middle of the field. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 22-10.

First 25 minutes of the first half:

After a kicking battle between the two teams, SAKURA 15’s SO OTSUKA kicked a touch kick to the right side of the enemy 22m line. SAKURA 15 attacked deep into the enemy territory. The lineout was Ireland’s ball, but when the ball was spilled, SAKURA 15 picked up the ball and led a series of attacks. SAKURA 15 attacked in front of the enemy’s in-goal, and the FWs took turns to attack in succession. SAKURA 15’s prop KATOH, who came on as a substitute, scored a try in the middle of the left field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 29-10.

SAKURA 15 dominated the game from this point on, and the match ended with the score at 29-10.

In the second test, one week after the heavy defeat in the first test match, SAKURA 15 scored a perfect victory against the Irish national team. The comeback was nothing short of spectacular. I would like to give a round of applause to SAKURA 15’s head coach Makkenzie and captain MINAMI. This day, August 28, 2022, was an unforgettable historical day for the Japanese women’s national rugby team.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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