RUGBY JERSEY – Kanto University Rugby League Group Division 1 : Kanto Gakuin University vs Toyo University

(Author: Azul, September 30th, 2022)

Sunday, September 25, 2022

This time I went to watch the second match of the Kanto University Rugby League Group 1, between Kanto Gakuin University and Toyo University.

The venue for this match was Senario House Field Misato Stadium in Misato City, Saitama Prefecture. The distance from my home is 68 km.

It took about 90 minutes by train. However, the bus from the nearest station to the stadium was not accessible. We had to wait 45 minutes at the bus stop. From there, it took about 20 minutes to get to the stadium, totaling more than 2 hours.

This was my first visit to Misato City in Saitama Prefecture, which is lined with many small and medium-sized factories and does not have much to offer for sightseeing. This place is surrounded by big rivers, and the land is flat, so it seems to be easy to get around by bicycle. Since it is located in the suburbs of Tokyo, it seems to function as a living city.

Before the game, I would like to introduce the Kanto University Rugby League group.

Kanto University Rugby currently has two major forces. One is the rivalry group centered on Keio University, which is the root of rugby in Japan, and the other is the league group centered on Nihon University, Hosei University, Chuo University, Senshu University, etc., which were emerging powers at the time. In 2022, the league group will have 3 slots, while the rivalry group will have 5 slots.

Will the league group be able to turn things around this season?

The photo above was taken at the match between Ryutsu Keizai University (5th place last season) and Daito Bunka University (3rd place last season).

The standings of last season’s Kanto University Rugby League group were as follows.

Kanto University Rugby League Group Order 2021
3Daito Bunka520
4Kanto Gakuin340
5Ryutsu Keizai340

The two lower ranked teams played a replacement match against the teams ranked 1st and 2nd in the second division. The results were

1) Chuo University vs Toyo University: Toyo University won 21-26.

2) Senshu University vs. Rissho University: Rissho University won 47-53.

Toyo University and Rissho University were promoted to the first division of the league this season.

In case you are wondering what exactly is the difference between the first and second divisions, teams in the second division are not allowed to play paid spectator games during the season. Only the players and officials of the opposing school go to the field to play the games. This is a big difference. Fans cannot go to cheer them on, and of course there is no TV broadcast. Since there is no big stage for success, players who were active in high school do not want to enter the school. It is all a vicious circle for players who want to enter a university and play an active role. However, on the other hand, for those who were not successful in high school and are from unknown schools, there is a chance to play in the games. Toyo University, which was promoted to the first division this time, is said to be the first team to be promoted in 29 years.

Let me introduce the two teams that will be playing this time.

First, let me introduce the visiting team, Kanto Gakuin University.

Last season, they finished 4th in the Kanto University Rugby League Group. Founded in 1960, Kanto Gakuin University was a prestigious team that reached the final of the University Championship for 10 consecutive years from 1997 to 2007, winning the title six times, including two consecutive championships.

However, the team entered a long period of stagnation after the coach was replaced in 2007 due to misconduct by a member of the team. There are many former national team members who supported Kanto Gakuin in its golden age, and I believe that there are many fans who are eagerly awaiting the revival of Kanto Gakuin.

Today’s starting members are as follows.

Kanto Gakuin University
1Ryunosuke KODAMA170cm105kg21
2Shokei YONEI174cm102kg21
3Masato OBARA175cm113kg21
4Ryuki HANADA185cm103kg20
5Yujiro YANO192cm110kg21
6Nachi TATEKAWA180cm95kg22
7Rin MIYAGAMI165cm80kg20
8Hijiri YUITO176cm97kg20
9Kento MURATA167cm68kg21
10Daiki Tachikawa167cm78kg21
11Hiroto MARUYAMA174cm80kg21
12Takuru YAMAMURA176cm99kg20
13Mitutaka KUKISAWA178cm87kg19
14Yuki ANDO178cm86kg19
15Larry TIPOAI-LUTERU192cm112kg18

** Players to watch **

Daiki TACHIKAWA. 167 cm, 78 kg, 21 years old. He is a graduate of Saga Technical High School. His father is Takeshi TACHIKAWA, a former Japanese national rugby player (21cap for Japan). He is not very tall, but his kicking ability and control are impressive. Like his father, he went on to Kanto Gakuin University from Saga Technical High School.

Next, I would like to introduce today’s home team, Toyo University Rugby Football Club .

They have been promoted to the first division of the Kanto University Rugby League Group 1 this season after defeating the 7th-ranked Chuo University in last season’s replacement round. On September 1, their first match was held at Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground. The opponent was Tokai University, last year’s league champion. Everyone involved in the tournament expected a convincing victory for Tokai University, but Toyo University unexpectedly pulled off an upset victory. It was such a Giant Killing that it became the top 3 news of this season’s university rugby. With this victory, Toyo University became the center of attention of Japanese rugby fans. We expect the crowd to grow as the team continues to win more games.

Today’s starting lineup is as follows.

Toyo University
1Taiga Yamaguchi168cm106kg21
2Shuta Ishiyama173cm102kg22
3Makito ISHIKAWA185cm115kg19
4Lamin Dieng SAITO185cm102kg22
5Matariki CHANNINGS195cm122kg20
6Vea TANIELA183cm120kg22
7Sho TANAKA185cm100kg25
8Shu UMEMURA183m100kg21
9Yusaku KANDA170m80kg23
10Stefarhn VAHAFOLAU188cm97kg20
11Kaito SUGIMOTO170cm75kg20
12Sota YOSHIDA187cm93kg22
13Kohei TANAKA183cm91kg21
14Yohei BONDO180cm82kg20
15Takumi ISHIMOTO171cm81kg21

** Players to watch **

There is actually one player in this team that rugby fans all over Japan will be interested in: Juan Oosthuyzen, 211 cm, 135 kg, 20 years old. He is from South Africa. He is the world’s tallest lock. Unfortunately, he was not even on the bench that day, so I could not take his picture. I will look forward to the next time.

If Oosthuyzen is included in this group, we have a player who is clearly huge, more than a head and a half, but he did not play this time.

Now, let’s kick off. Kickoff time was 12:30.

4 minutes into the first half:

The game started with a kickoff by Kanto Gakuin University. The wind was a little strong, and Toyo University’s side was upwind in the first half. The game proceeded in the Toyo University camp, and when the Kanto Gakuin University backs spilled the ball from a Kanto Gakuin University scrum due to a handling error, the Toyo University backs took the ball, broke away, and expanded to the right, connecting with BONDO, the right WTB, who scored a try in the right center. The conversion goal after the try was also successful. The score was 7-0, and Toyo University took the lead.

8 minutes into the first half

Kanto Gakuin University had just entered the enemy territory when a scrum on the left side of the field led to a right wing, and the right WTB ANDO made a big move forward.

From the dense crowd created there, a series of attacks developed, and the SO TACHIKAWA released the ball in front of the goal post, which was run into by the left WTB MARUYAMA, who scored a try to the left center. After the try, the conversion goal failed. The score was 7-5.

15 minutes into the first half:

Kanto Gakuin University continued to attack in the Toyo University camp in this period. Toyo University’s defense in front of the goal did a good job of repelling the rush by the FWs, but a long pass from Kanto Gakuin University’s SO TACHIKAWA in front of the goal post was caught by the left WTB MARUYAMA, who took off two opposing defenders with individual skill and scored a try in the left center. After the try, the conversion goal failed. The score was 7-10.

17 minutes into the first half:

Toyo University secured the ball from the kick-off after the try, and launched a series of attacks in the opponent’s territory. Toyo University secured the ball in a tight pack, and No.8 UMEMURA rolled a grounder punt in front of the goal in enemy territory. The right WTB BONDO caught the ball and scored a try in the right corner of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was now 12-10 in favor of Toyo University.

24 minutes into the first half:

Toyo University began to find their attacking rhythm. Consecutive attacks connected, and the time spent attacking in the enemy territory increased. They attacked left and right, gradually moving forward, and finally, with an extra man on the right side, FB Ishimoto scored a try in the middle of the left field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 19-10.

33 minutes into the first half:

Kanto Gakuin University then scored 3 points through PGs, and in the 33rd minute of the first half, a scrum took place deep in their own territory.

From there, the ball rolled to the right and was kicked by the WTB ANDO. The ball rolled deep into the enemy territory, and Kanto Gakuin University won the ball, and flanker TATEKAWA scored the final try in the right-center in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Kanto Gakuin University was back on top this time. The score was 19-20.

38 minutes into the first half.

From a scrum almost in the center of the field, Toyo University gradually advanced through the enemy line through a series of attacks. A dense battle ensued near the goal posts, about 7 meters from the goal line, where Toyo University’s SH KANDA grabbed the ball and dodged three of Kanto Gakuin University defenders, and scored a try just below the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 26-20, and Toyo University was back in front.

The first half was a dizzying affair, with both teams trading points with each other. The score was 26-20, Toyo University leading Kanto Gakuin University by six points at halftime.

Now for the start of the second half.

14 and 18 minutes into the second half:

Kanto Gakuin University’s SO TACHIKAWA scored two PGs from almost halfway, a distance of almost 50 meters, to tie the score 26-26.

23 minutes into the second half:

This match had a lot to offer in terms of attacks by both teams. They repeatedly attacked in succession, exploiting their opponents’ skirmishes and advancing forward. Conversely, there were few turnovers to take the ball out of the opponent’s hands.

Toyo University repeated a series of attacks in the opponent’s territory, gradually closing in on the opponent’s goal line, and finally, from a dense battle in front of the goal line, Toyo University’s SH KANDA scored from the right center of the in-goal. KANDA scored his second try of the day, diving into the right center of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 33-26.

27 minutes into the second half

Kanto Gakuin University’s FB Larry made a strong breakthrough and drove close to the opponent’s goal line, finally crossing the line in front of the goal. The WTB ANDO made a great individual effort to get past the defenders and score a try at the right edge of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, making the score 33-31.

36 minutes into the second half.

Toyo University gained their own lineout 5m in front of the goal line at the right end of the enemy line due to an infringement by the opponents. Toyo University’s FWs secured the ball, and the team moved forward in a maul to score a try right in front of the opponents’ in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 38-31.

In this match, the referee calculated the loss time and extended the time remaining in the game, so the game did not end until well past the 40th minute of the second half. The last play was particularly long, and there were screams from the Toyo University fans in the stands. Well, that’s how heated the game was.

In the end, Toyo University won the match 38-31, their second consecutive win since the opening of the season. Conversely, Kanto Gakuin University has lost two straight.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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