RUGBY JERSEY~2022 Japan Rugby Challenge Series ~ Japan XV VS Australia A ~ Round 1

(Author: Azul, October 11, 2022)

The Japanese national rugby team has set up six matches this fall as reinforcement for RWC 2023. Below is the schedule.

(1) 10/1 – Japan XV vs. Australia A Game 1: Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground, Tokyo

2) 10/8 Japan XV vs. Australia A Round 2: Best Denki Stadium, Fukuoka

3) 10/14 – Japan XV vs. Australia A Game 3: YODOKO Sakura Stadium, Osaka

4) 10/29 – Japan Brave Blossoms vs New Zealand All Blacks: National Stadium, Tokyo

5) 11/12 – Japan national team Brave Blossoms VS England national team: Twickenham Stadium, England

6) 11/20 – Japan national team Brave Blossoms VS France national team Les Bleus: Stadium de Toulouse, France

This is quite a gorgeous training match. The reason why we are able to organize such a training match with a rugby powerhouse is because of the achievements of Japan’s national team at RWC 2019.

On Saturday, October 1, 2022, I went to Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Minato-ku, Tokyo to watch Japan XV vs Australia A Game 1. This match was between the Japan XV and the Australia A team, although the team names were unfamiliar to me. This match is not an official test match between the representatives of the two countries, so the players will not be given a representative CAP. In this match, the Japanese team will be the actual national team, while the Australian team will be a selected team that includes some players with national team experience.

The kickoff time for this match was 19:00. I had originally arranged to meet my friend at 18:00, but he called me and told me that the advance tickets were sold out and if we did not enter early, we would be relegated to the corner seats, so we entered at 17:30. The total number of visitors that day was 19,729.

Let me introduce the two teams playing this day.

First, let me introduce the home team, Japan XV.

Looking at Japan’s record in test matches since the RWC 2019, they have shown a gap in ability against the lower ranked countries in the world ranking, but have not been able to win against the higher ranked countries, although they have put up reasonably good fights. The main reason for this is that Japan has dropped out of strong leagues such as SUPER RUGBY, which it used to be a member of, and the national team has not been able to strengthen its athletes. Currently, the team is able to organize strengthening matches based on their performance in the previous tournament, but if they suffer a disastrous defeat at RWC 2023, they are expected to gradually become weaker. In the end, the Japan Rugby Union and its sponsors are only looking to strengthen the domestic league. Personally, I would like to see the Sun Wolves revived and re-enter Super Rugby.

Here is today’s starting lineup.

Japan XV
No.NameheightweightageJapan Caps
1Craig MILLER186cm116kg316
2Atsushi SAKADE180cm104kg2930
3Yusuke KIZU178cm112kg265
4Jack CORNELSEN195cm110kg279
5Sanaila WAQA202cm120kg272
6Kanji SHIMOKAWA188cm105kg23 
7Peter LABUSCHAGNE189cm106kg3313
8Michael LEITCH189cm113kg3375
9Naoto SAITO165cm73kg258
10Hayata NAKAO176cm86kg27 
11Siosaia FIFITA187cm105kg239
12Shogo NAKANO186cm98kg255
13Dylan RILEY187cm102kg257
14Gerhard von den HEEVER192cm102kg333
15Ryohei Yamanaka188cm98kg3424

** Player to watch **

Kotaro MATSUSHIMA. 178cm, 87kg, 28 years old. At the age of 21, he participated in the RWC 2015 and has been a regular player in the Japan national team as a mainstay WTB since then. He has the decisiveness needed to be an international class WTB. Until last year, he was the main FB for Clermont, a strong team in the French professional league. He is expected to reach his peak as a player at the upcoming RWC 2023.

Next, I would like to introduce our visiting team, Australia A.

The Australia A team is the second team after the Wallabies, the Australian national team. Among the starting members, there are 8 players who have represented Australia before, and they have players who are aiming to participate in RWC 2023. Their most recent result as a team was second place at the Pacific Nations Cup, competing against Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa. The team lost to Samoa. Japan will be in the same group as Samoa at RWC 2023, and will be looking for a win against Australia A.

The starting lineup for today’s match is as follows

Australia A
No.NameheightweightageAustralia Caps
1Matt GIBBON185cm120kg272
2Lachlan LONERGAN180cm100kg226
3Tom ROBERTSON180cm115kg2827
4Nick FROST206cm120kg225
5Cadeyrn NEVILLE202cm125kg332
6Ned HANIGAN194cm113kg2725
7Ollie CALLAN185cm100kg22 
8Langi GLEESON185m105kg21 
9Ryan LONERGAN184m80kg24 
10Ben DONALDSON184cm87kg23 
11Filipo DAUGUNU175cm91kg277
12Bayley KUENZLE186cm92kg24 
13Hudson CREIGHTON182cm92kg22 
14Suli VUNIVALU192cm99kg261
15Jock CAMPBELL186cm85kg27 

** Player to watch **

Langi GLEESON. 185 cm, 100 kg, 21 years old. No Cap for Australia. A promising young player who made his debut for the Australian Waratahs in the 2022 Super Rugby and was selected for Australia A this time after a remarkable performance. He will surely break through the opposing team’s defense. His trademark red head cap stands out in the game.

Let’s start the first half.

Kickoff for the day was at 19:00.

2 minutes into the first half:

Japan XV kicked a little bit into the enemy’s territory, and Australia A committed a foul of Not Role Away. The point of the foul was in front of the goal post, so Japan XV chose to go for the PG. Japan XV’s SO NAKAO scored the PG to put Japan XV ahead by 3 points.

6 minutes into the first half:

From the kickoff after the try, Australia A moved into enemy territory, and in a tight battle, Japan XV Lock WAQA was fouled for Not Role Away. At this point, Australia A elected to go for the PG. SH RONERGAN succeeded in this PG and the score was tied 3-3.

17 minutes into the first half:

Australia A’s offensive efforts were becoming more and more noticeable. After Japan XV was fouled for offside in the middle of their own territory, Australia A opted to go for the PG. The PG was also successful, making the score 3-6.

19 minutes into the first half:

After the PG, Japan XV kicked off in the enemy territory. Japan XV had a great chance to score when the CTB put up a short punt, and three Japan XV players ran on to win the ball. The ball went straight up the field, with only one FB on the Australia A side. FB CAMPBELL intercepted the ball clearly, ran into the back of the enemy line and ran more than 50 m. Japan XV’s SO NAKAO managed to stop him deep in his own territory. CAMPBELL’s bold interception was a surprise.

22 minutes into the first half:

Japan XV had an opportunity to take the ball out of their own line deep in the enemy territory on the right side. FL NAKAO secured the ball and raced towards the goal posts. This was blocked by Australia A, but Japan XV had a PG opportunity 5 meters in front of the goal post. SO NAKAO succeeded in this PG and the score was tied 6-6.

36 minutes into the first half:

The score was tied 6-6, but the ball was mostly controlled by Australia A. Japan XV spent most of the time on the defensive. Toward the end of the first half, however, Japan XV was finally able to mount a series of attacks in front of the enemy goal line. As a result, Japan XV had an opportunity to take a PG after an infringement in front of the goalposts. SO NAKAO scored to make the score 9-6.

The first half ended with the score 9-6 in favor of Japan XV, leaving them with a 3-point lead going into the second half.

Thanks to newly appointed defensive coach John Mitchell, Japan XV was more organized defensively than in the July match against France, but they could not attack much in the first half, which they will need to rectify for the second half.

And as for Australia A, the whole team, led by No.8 Gleeson and FB Campbell, was full of attacking spirit. I expect them to show us a great attack in the second half.

Let’s start the second half.

5 minutes into the second half:

Japan XV, perhaps reflecting on the lack of offensive time in the first half, went on the offensive right from the start of the second half. They won the scrums, drew penalties from their opponents, and gradually advanced deep into the enemy territory. From the scrum, Japan XV moved to the left, and by the time they passed to the WTB, they had enough space to score a try by WTB FIFITA in the left corner of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed. It was the first try through both teams in the match, and the score was 14-6, giving Japan XV an 8-point lead.

8 minutes into the second half:

Australia A scored a try against their opponents.

Australia A seemed to get everyone fired up after their opponent scored a try. Anyway, Australia A did not fall down easily when they made contact. They kept going forward, and the ball kept coming to them. Finally, WTB VUNIVALU scored a try in the left center. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 14-13, and Australia A was within one point.

10 minutes into the second half:

Japan XV made two substitutions.



Can these two players pull Japan XV back from a game that was leaning towards Australia A?

12 minutes into the second half:

Japan increased the tempo of their attack and launched a series of attacks deep into the enemy territory. FB Yamanaka came very close to scoring a try, but the VTR showed the referee that it was not to be. However, before that, there was a foul on Australia A, so Japan XV chose to go for the PG from that position, and SO NAKAO succeeded in scoring. The score was 17-13.

Japan XV also made a change of players at this time.


Australia A also made a change of players at this time.




15 minutes into the second half:

Japan XV launched a series of attacks to decide the game here. After entering the enemy territory, WTB FIFITA made a big gain on the left side of the field. Then Japan XV attacked to the right side. CTB NAKANO made an exquisite pass to WTB MATUSHIMA on the right side, and he scored a try on the right edge. The stadium was filled with excitement on the day.

The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 22-13.

18 minutes into the second half:

Immediately after the try was scored, the Australia A players all showed fighting spirit and made a series of strong contact plays. A follow-up player ran into a hole in the defense pried open by a contacted player and made a series of successful offload passes.

Finally, Australia A scored a try by FL WILKIN, who had just been replaced, right under the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 22-20.

21 minutes into the second half:

Australia A had their own lineout after the game resumed, and SO DONALDSON got behind the opponents’ defensive net and went straight for a big gain. He then kicked the ball towards the in-goal, where WTB NAWAQANTAWASE held the ball in the in-goal for the try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 22-27 in favor of Australia A.

33 minutes into the second half:

Some of the Japan XV players started to tire and there were some holes in the defense. Australia A’s WTB NAWAQANTAWASE made an individual break down the left flank and scored a try in the middle of the field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 22-34.

The score remained 22-34 until the end of the match.

Japan XV lost their first of six straight test matches.

Australia A’s offensive prowess shone through in this match. The Japan XV will play three straight matches against this opponent, so we hope that they will show the results of this day in the next week’s match.

** Jersey Collection 65 **

This is a replica jersey of the Italian national team that played the opening match of the first RWC held in 1987. I think it is a reprint of the original jersey, but I bought it for 7,900 yen on Mercari because it was a faithful reproduction of the colors of the Italian national team’s jersey at that time. It is a new used item, never used.

The tag from when it was sold was attached. This jersey was a project item, yet it was priced higher than the All Blacks jerseys of the time. The All Blacks jersey, a big seller at the time, did not cost more than 10,000 yen, as I recall. However, rugby jerseys do not sell well in Japan unless the country is a powerhouse to some extent, so I think this Italian national team jersey hardly sold at all. However, the design is good, so if Italy becomes a strong rugby team in the future, I think the price will go up.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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