（Author: Azul, November 5, 2022）
The Brave Blossoms of Japan will play their third straight Test Match from this week, following their win and loss against Australia A this past fall. The first match was against the New Zealand All Blacks, who are currently ranked 4th in the world and have won the RWC three times.
The venue was Tokyo’s National Stadium. Tickets for this match were sold out more than two weeks ago. The interest of rugby fans in Japan reached such a peak that, unusually, the match was suddenly scheduled for Public Viewing at various locations in Japan. The match was scheduled to start at 14:50, and a Public Viewing and Rugby Fair was held at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground near the National Stadium on the same day.
The events of the day were
12:30 – Public Viewing of the Women’s RWC Quarterfinals
14:50 – Public viewing of Brave Blossoms vs All Blacks
The event was to be held at the same time.
Since the Japan Series of professional baseball would also be held in the evening, more than 100,000 people gathered here at Jingu Gaien this afternoon. It was, for a moment, the largest crowd I can remember. In terms of numbers, the crowd reminded me of the time of RWC 2019.
Even before the entrance, the National Stadium was filled with countless fans wearing Japan’s national team jerseys. what was different from the RWC was that most of the fans who came to the event were Japanese.
The total number of visitors that day was 65,188, which was the highest attendance at the National Stadium. My seat this time was on the third floor. It was my first time to sit on the third floor.
I took the escalator from the second floor to the third floor. And this is what it looks like when you sit on the third floor.
I heard that some stadiums charge more for seats on the third floor, where you can see the entire stadium, but in today’s case, the cheapest price was Category 4 (4,000 yen) for seats on the third floor behind the goal.
The Japanese national rugby team has played the All Blacks 6 times in the past, winning 0 and losing 6.
Oct.25,1987~0-74 (Hanazono Stadium, Japan)
Nov.1,1987~4-106 (National Stadium, Japan)
June 4, 1995~17-145 (Bloom Fountain, South Africa)
Sep. 11, 2011~7-83 (Hamilton, NZ)
Nov. 2, 2013~6-54 (Chichibunomiya Stadium, Japan)
Nov. 3, 2018~31-69 (Azinomoto Stadium, Japan)
All of these matches can be considered complete defeats, but the 1995 match in particular has gone down in the record books as the match with the highest goal difference in the RWC.
The Japanese national rugby team has not won a RWC match in more than 20 years, from its first victory over Zimbabwe in 1991 to its last victory over South Africa in 2015. The loss to the All Blacks in RWC 1995 was a game that symbolized the dark days of the Japanese national team. Can Japan put an end to that dark history on this day?
Here is the latest information on both teams playing today.
First, let’s start with the visiting team, the New Zealand All Blacks.
The year 2022 will be a difficult one for the All Blacks, who pride themselves on being the best team in the world.
They won one and lost two games against Ireland.
1win and1 loss to Argentina’s Los Pumas
1win and1, South Africa’s Springboks
The unbeaten team has already suffered three defeats this year. The All Blacks. Here is today’s starting lineup.
＊＊ Player to watch ＊＊
Sevu REECE. 179 cm, 87 kg, 25 years old. position = WTB, and has been highly regarded in NZ since high school for his short distance running and rugby. He scored tries during his time with the Crusaders in Super Rugby and when he was called up to the All Blacks in 2019, he went on to secure a regular position in the team. As the All Blacks’ leading speedster, he is expected to play an important role in RWC 2023.
Next, an update on the home team, the national team Brave Blossoms.
Eight of the starters on the day had RWC 2019 experience. The problem of a lack of turnover between old and new players, which was a concern for a while, is slowly being resolved. Hopefully, we will record a victory in the matches against the top ranking teams in the world ranking that will continue from this day.
The Brave Blossoms starting lineup for this day is as follows
＊＊ Player to watch ＊＊
Michael LEITCH. 189cm, 113kg, 33 years old. Japan national team cap 75. position = FL, No. 8. Captain of Japan’s national team for RWC 2015 and 2019. He is the mental pillar of the current Brave Blossoms and a key player in terms of play. he was a little out of shape at RWC2019, but has since had surgery on an injured part and is back in shape. He started all three matches against Australia A. He is currently performing at the highest level of his career. The only problem is that if he were to pull out due to injury, there would be no one to replace him.
Let’s take a look back at the test match.
From the entrance, the atmosphere is different from the French national team’s matches in the summer. Although France is currently ranked higher in the world, Japanese rugby fans, who know the history of the All Blacks against Japan, respect the All Blacks as the strongest team in the world. At the same time, they are looking forward to seeing how far the Japanese national team, the Brave Blossoms, can go against the best team in the world. Most of the 65,000-plus spectators in the stadium, most of whom are Japanese rugby fans, have high expectations for this match. However, the flip side of this expectation is that if the team suffers a serious defeat here, it may turn off the fans. As was the case with the Japanese national team in the past. For the players of the national team, I felt a pressure that is hard to describe in words.
The most popular rugby team in Japan, the NZ national team All Blacks game, there were several unusual events.
The Honorary President of the Japanese Rugby Football Union, Her Imperial Highness Princess Akiko, gave a pep talk to the participating players. This was not the case during the spring test matches. It was the idea of Mr. Tsuchida, the chairman of the Japan Rugby Football Union, that the match on this day was a historic one.
Then, the All Blacks’ pre-match War Cry, H AKA, was performed by the All Blacks.
I couldn’t help but shudder at the sight of the HAKA in the stadium.
Now, let the match begin.
10 minutes into the first half：
Both teams had been going back-and-forth up to this point, neither giving up the initiative, until All Blacks broke out of a lineout on the right side of the field a little way into enemy territory and hooker TAUKEIAHO broke through the gain line to get behind the Brave Blossoms’ defensive net. All Blacks lock RETALLICK followed up on this and scored a try right in the middle of the enemy in-goal to put the All Blacks ahead. The SO MO’UNGA scored the conversion goal after the try to make the score 0-7.
19 minutes into the first half:
Brave Blossoms’ SO Yamazawa kicked effectively at key points, and the game was promoted in the enemy’s territory. The Brave Blossoms formed a break down just beyond the 10-meter mark and the All Blacks were penalized for a Not Role Away foul. Here, the Brave Blossoms opted for the PG. It was in front of the enemy goal post, about 20 meters away. The SO Yamazawaga scored the PG. The score was 3-7 in favor of the Brave Blossoms. It should be noted that the Brave Blossoms’ SO Yamazawa’s kicking trajectory. His kicks were just as powerful and controlled as those of the kickers of the strong foreign teams. This kind of kick will put pressure on the opposing team not to foul play carelessly.
22 minutes into the first half:
The All Blacks attack deep into enemy territory. and from a lineout on the right flank, they surged forward in a maul to score a try. The Brave Blossoms showed the results of their defensive work after their loss to Australia A in October, when a maul attack cost them the game-winning try.
26 minutes into the first half:
Brave Blossoms again showed great defense in front of their own in-goal to repel the attack of their opponents. However, the All Blacks also attacked in succession, with offload passes and finally CTB ENHOR scored a try in the middle left of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and All Blacks made the score 3-14.
32 minutes into the first half:
Brave Blossoms created several chances in enemy territory but failed to score. All Blacks got a lineout on the right side of the field after an infringement by their opponents, and WTB REECE ran from the outside to receive the ball and scored a try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful. All Blacks made the score 3-21, 18 points ahead.
37 minutes into the first half:
The Brave Blossoms were on the verge of a one-sided loss if the score was any further apart. During this period, the All Blacks were bulking up and launching a series of off-loaded passes. This was the critical point in the match for the Brave Blossoms.
The All Blacks advanced all the way to the enemy 22-meter line. Here, FL HIMENO of the Brave Blossoms made a crucial jackal play, and the Brave Blossoms succeeded in turning over. The Brave Blossoms’ backs player kicked the ball deep into the enemy territory. Finally, SO YAMAZAWA picked up the ball in front of the enemy in-goal, then catched and scored a try The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 21-10.
39 minutes into the first half:
The Brave Blossoms were still in the midst of their first half, but the earlier try gave the whole team a boost, and everyone in the Brave Blossoms team showed a determination to connect the ball and move forward, launching a series of attacks from their own area. The ball was deployed to the left, and CTB Riley, stationed on the left edge of the field, broke through the All Blacks’ defense to close in on the enemy in-goal. Finally, he connected with SH NAGARE, who followed him inside and scored a try in the middle of the right field of opponent’s ingoal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the Brave Blossoms were within 4 points, 17-21.
The Brave Blossoms were briefly outscored by the All Blacks, but they scored back-to-back tries in the closing minutes of the first half. The Brave Blossoms’ performance at the end of the half brought cheers from the entire stadium.
In the last three matches against Australia A, Brave Blossoms lost energy in the second half and scored consecutive goals, but how will the second half of this match unfold?
Let the second half begin.
2 minutes into the second half:
Both teams were looking for the first goal from each other, but it was All Blacks who scored first.
All Blacks applied their bodies and tried to advance, but Brave Blossoms did not let them break the gain line. However, All Blacks’ left WTB CLARKE got tangled up with three men, and played them all off and scored a try in the left middle. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 28-17.
14 minutes into the second half:
The All Blacks players started to work together better and were gradually closing in on the enemy in-goal. With 5 meters to go and just in front of the goal posts, Brave Blossoms’ FL HIMENO showed a jackal play to win back the ball. It was a priceless play by HIMENO to stop the momentum of the opponent.
15 minutes into the second half.
The Brave Blossoms, thanks to FL HIMENO’s earlier effort, advanced to the center of the field. The SH CHRISTIE of All Blacks attempted a high punt up the middle, but Brave Blossom’s lock DEARNS was able to charge and the ball went straight into his arms. DEARNS ran through the back of the defense to the opponent’s in-goal and scored a try in the left center of the field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 24-28. For Warner DEARNS, it was a memorable first try for Japan.
21 minutes into the second half:
During this period, the All Blacks were closing in on the enemy in-goal, and in succession, the FWs launched a series of side attacks.
And the All Blacks’ No.8 SOTUTU was able to score a try on the right side of the goal post with a great individual effort. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 24-35, an 11-point lead for the All Blacks.
26 minutes into the second half.
All Blacks lock RETALLICK was shown a red card and he was sent off.for extremely dangerous play against FL HIMENO, a key player on the Brave Blossoms’ FW this day.
All Blacks’ RETALLICK was sent off for hitting to Brave Blossoms’ HIMENO in the neck as he went for the ball in a tight pack.
The Brave Blossoms began to take the lead in the last 14 minutes of the second half, and with the All Blacks down a man, they began to push forward, going wide left and right.
39 minutes into the second half:.
The Brave Blossoms once got close to their own in-goal, but were fouled in a scrum there and pushed back into their own territory on the ensuing kick.
Later, during an attack and defense in their own territory, Brave Blossoms WTB Van den HEEVER kicked the spilled ball deep into enemy territory, and then chased it down himself to make it his own ball in front of the enemy goal.
From the lineout that followed, it was a tight battle in front of the enemy in-goal, and finally Brave Blossoms’ FL HIMENO scored a try in the middle of the left field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 31-35.
40 minutes into the second half
With little time left on the clock, the Brave Blossoms tried to attack by spreading the ball deep in their own territory. Instead of kicking the ball out, the All Blacks opted for a PG, which the SO MO’UNGA converted to make the final score 31-38.
The Brave Blossoms had lost 7 straight games against the All Blacks, but the loss by 7 points was a good sign that the Brave Blossoms had improved their abilities.
We look forward to seeing them pick up some great wins in their next two test matches on November.
Stop the war.
Peace to Ukraine