(Author: Azul, November 20, 2022)
This time, I went to Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture, to watch a Kanto University Rugby League group game. The photo above is the entrance to Ashikaga Gakko (Ashikaga School), a nationally designated historical site in Ashikaga City.
The distance from my house (Hachioji City) to Ashikaga City is about 120 km, and it took three hours to get there by train.
I left at 7:00 a.m. and arrived at Ashikagashi Station at 10:00 a.m.
Since this was my first visit to Ashikaga City, I did a little research on the city.
As Ashikaga has a sister city relationship with Kyoto, there are several historical sites in Ashikaga City. Those historic sites are clustered around Ashikaga Station, so I went sightseeing there before the game started.
Ashikaga City claims to be a tourist city, and there are several hotels for tourists around the station.
Walking toward the stadium from the station, you will first see a large river.
This is the Watarase River, a first-class river.
Many regional cities in Japan have developed near such a large river.
As I continued onward, I saw a lantern that reminded me of the history of Ashikaga City.
The name Ashikaga is the birthplace of the Ashikaga clan, which founded the Muromachi Shogunate in the 14th century. As a result, many of the major historical sites in the city are of Ashikaga family origin.
The photo above is a statue of Lord Ashikaga Takauji, who became the first barbarian general of the Muromachi Shogunate in 1336 AD. It took about 10 minutes from the station to get here on foot.
After walking further, we saw Bannaji Temple. This place was originally the Ashikaga clan’s mansion, which was converted into a temple.
It was early Sunday morning, but the place was already crowded with people. I hope the Corona disaster will soon be over and more tourists will gather here.
Next, we visited Ashikaga Gakko (Ashikaga School), which was located next to this temple.
At its peak, the number of students studying here exceeded 3,000, and in 1549, the Christian missionary Francis Xavier introduced the school abroad as “the largest and most famous university in Bando district, Japan.
Chinese Confucianism was also taught here, and a statue of Confucius was erected.
This picture of a dragon gives me a sense of mystical power.
Now it was getting close to game time, so I decided to head to Ashikaga Gas Ground, the venue for today’s game.
I was sweating a little as I walked to the stadium at a fast pace.
The temperature was around 15 degrees Celsius, and it was a little chilly.
Today, two games were scheduled at this venue.
Game 1: Toyo University vs. Hosei University (11:30 start)
Match 2: Ryutsu Keizai University vs Rissho University (14:00 start)
Now, let’s check the standings of the Kanto University Rugby League group.
|Kanto University Rugby League Group Order 2022|
This season’s league groups are very crowded. The top 3 schools will advance to the National University Championships, but with 2 games remaining, up to the 6th place team still has a chance to participate in the Championships. Therefore, the match of the day was an absolute must-win game for each team.
The previous week’s games in the rivalry group had attracted 7,000 spectators, but this day’s games in the league group had only about 1.000 spectators. It was a bit sad.
Let me introduce the two schools that will play in the first match of the day.
First, let me introduce today’s visiting team, Hosei University.
The Hosei University Rugby Club was founded in 1942 and has won the National University Championship three times. The team has also won the Kanto University League 13 times, making it the No. 1 team in the league. In recent years, however, the team has been stagnant in the lower ranks of the league group. Whether or not they will be able to participate in the University Championship this season, it depends on a win on this day.
Today’s starting lineup is as follows.
＊＊ Player to watch ＊＊
Rei ISHIOKA is 21 years old, 177 cm, 83 kg. He is from Gosho Jitsugyo High School in Nara, Japan. 2019 High School Japan Representative. He is a FB, WTB, SO, and boasts outstanding speed among Hosei University BK players, who are all very fast. Long kicking is also one of his weapons, and he is capable of scoring a PG from the center of the ground. If he moves on to League One after graduation and works on his contact play, he is a gem who can also aim for the Japan national team.
By the way, here is an update on the home team, Toyo University.
Toyo University became the eye of the storm in this season’s league group after defeating last season’s league champion, Tokai University, in the opening match of the league group.
One of the characteristics of this team is that they are outstanding in attack, capable of scoring goals against any team. On the other hand, their defense as a team has been unstable, and all of their games against other teams so far have been close. Can they win their remaining two games and advance to the University Championship?
Today’s starting lineup is as follows.
|4||Lamin Dieng SAITO||185cm||102kg||22|
＊＊ Player to watch ＊＊
Kaito Sugimoto. 170 cm, 75 kg, 20 years old. He is a graduate of Tokyo High School. Although not physically gifted, he has the core strength to break through dense crowds and boasts the fastest 50-meter run time of 5.9 seconds, the fastest on the team. He also shows off-load passing, connecting the ball without falling down even if he is caught in the middle of the field. He is also the team’s placekicker and plays PG in the game.
Let’s start the first half of the game.
5 minutes into the first half:
In the early stages of the game, both sides exchanged kicks, and the game went back and forth. However, when Hosei developed, they could not get behind Toyo’s day defense, but in Toyo’s case, they broke through the opponent’s defensive network and moved forward. With such a flow, Toyo gradually moved forward as they entered the enemy territory, and finally, near the 22m line, Toyo’s WTB Sugimoto, a WTB of Toyo, went through the left side and scored a try at the left edge of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was unsuccessful. The score was 5-0 with Toyo scoring first.
18 minutes into the first half:
Toyo attacked vertically with the foreign student as a penetrate player in the attack after entering the enemy camp. Continuing the attack, Toyo went close to the in-goal, and finally scored on the right side of the goalposts.
The try was scored by Toyo’s LO Channings The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 12-0.
27 minutes into the first half:
After a Toyo kicking error, Hosei came deep into the enemy territory and attacked with a series of BK line attacks. Toyo was able to hold them off in front of the goal, but Hosei SO Kumada received the ball in front of the enemy in-goal, and fell straight down in the left middle for the try. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 12-5.
37 minutes into the first half:
After Toyo entered the enemy territory, Hosei committed a foul in the scrum, from which Toyo attacked quickly, and LO Channings easily broke away and rounded the goal post to score a try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 19-5.
45 minutes into the first half:
Near the end of the first half, Toyo committed an infringement at a scrum near the center of the field, causing the scrum to collapse. Here, Hosei opted for a PG. The distance from the PG point to the goal post was more than 50 meters, which caused a stir in the stands, but Hosei’s SO Kumada succeeded brilliantly. The score was 19-8.
The first half ended here. Toyo attacked vertically with their international players, while Hosei tried to break through with a line attack by their BK players. We look forward to seeing if Hosei will continue to attack in this fashion in the second half.
Let the second half begin:
15 minutes into the second half:
Hosei’s defenders managed to stay in the game even when they were attacked deep in their own half, as any further point difference would almost guarantee a win or loss in this game. Toyo, however, continued to attack and came close to getting in front of the enemy’s in-goal. Hosei was brought to the in-goal several times, but they did not let them score a try. However, Toyo’s FL Channings, who had scored two tries on the day, received the ball in front of the enemy in-goal and played through a couple of Hosei defenders to score his third try of the day on the right side of the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 26-8, giving Toyo a massive 18-point lead.
Toyo University, I thought at this point, was going to win this day with comparative ease, although all their previous games had been very close. But………
23 minutes into the second half:
Hosei was again attacked by Toyo in front of their own in-goal, and there was a scene where they almost scored a try. However, from their own in-goal, Hosei’s CTB, WTB, and FB connected one pass after another and ran all the way to the enemy in-goal, where FB Ishioka scored the try just below the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 26-15. Hosei showed their true spirit of running rugby by scoring a try.
38 minutes into the second half:
At this time of the game, Toyo was showing signs of fatigue, while Hosei was gradually improving as the possibility of an upset victory became more and more apparent.
The scrum was deep in front of the goal posts in the Toyo camp, and it was a Toyo ball scrum. The ball came out of here, and Toyo’s midway replacement, SO Amaha, committed a painful knock-on infringement. Toyo then made a series of mistakes in this position, and were pinned in front of their own goal. Hosei made a series of attacks from this point on, and finally LO Takebe of Hosei scored a try in the right center of the field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 26-22.
Hosei’s four-point lead gave the entire team a boost. Toyo, however, knew that a loss in this game would doom their chances of qualifying for the University Championships, so they fought back with all their might. Hosei deployed the ball from deep in their own territory and attempted a final attack. In a densely contested battle, Toyo got the ball back, and the game ended as it did. The final score was 26-22 in favor of Toyo University. As a result, Toyo University will be able to participate in the University Championships if they secure a draw or better against Rissho University in the final match to be held on November 27.
And now for the second match of the day.
The second match of the day was between Ryutsu Keizai University and Rissho University, and Ryutsu Keizai University won by a score of 31-38.
This game was also a close match, but with this victory, Ryutsu Keizai University qualified for the University Championship. And only one slot remains.
Stop the war.
Peace to Ukraine