(Author: Azul, December 19, 2022)
On December 11, 2022, I went to watch the 3rd round match of the National University Rugby Championship held at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground in Minato-ku, Tokyo.
The matches played on this day were
Waseda University vs Toyo University
(Kanto University Rivalry Rugby group 3rd place vs Kanto University League group 3rd place)
The Rugby University Championship has entered the third round, and the top-ranked schools in the major leagues have begun to play each other. This will be followed by intense tournament play until the finals on January 8. For each team, a loss in the championship match means the end of their season. We look forward to a heated and exciting match in every game as they aim for the top of the University Championships.
Now, let me introduce each team competing in the day’s matches.
First, let me introduce the visiting team, Toyo University.
This is Toyo University’s first appearance in the University Championship, and this season they have not only been promoted from the second division of the Kanto University League Group to the first division for the first time in 29 years, but have also advanced to the University Championship by defeating one strong school after another in the first division. In addition, three players were selected as one of the best 15 players in the Kanto University League Group. Every game this season for Toyo University has been a new history for the university.
Today’s starters are as follows:
|4||Lamin Dieng SAITO||185cm||102kg||22|
|5||Juan Oost HUYZEN||211cm||135kg||20|
＊＊ Player to watch ＊＊
Lamin Dieng SAITO. 185 cm, 102 kg, 22 years old. He is a graduate of Meguro Gakuin High School. Position = lock. Captain of Toyo University, which has made great strides this season. He is of Senegalese descent. He often makes his presence felt in the lineout by stealing the ball from his opponents. He is also an agile player who is as fast as a BK, and his pressure on defense makes him a threat to opposing teams. He was selected as one of the best 15 players in the Kanto University League group this season.
Next, let me introduce the home team, Waseda University.
In contrast to Toyo University, Waseda University is a regular participant in the University Championship. It has won the championship 16 times. This season, the team lost to Teikyo University and Meiji University, and finished in third place in the Kanto University Rivalry group. But they are aiming for their first university title in two years as they grow as a team in the University Championship. This season, injuries have been noticeable among the core players, but the team’s challenge will be to get their lineup back to full strength in order to win the championship.
Today’s starting lineup is as follows:
＊＊ Player to watch ＊＊
Masanori MIYAO is a 165cm, 70kg SH. A graduate of Kyoto Seisho High School, he has been a regular SH player for the prestigious Waseda University Rugby Club since his freshman year. He has the ability to break through from the scrum to score tries with his agility and speed. His quick passing skills, which allow Waseda’s BK to expand in all directions, have been a lifeline for Waseda this season.
Let’s kick off today’s match.
As I expected before the match, Toyo University dominated the first half with their FW set pieces. They led their opponents into infringements in scrums and maintained their dominance in lineouts, especially with lock SAITO.
15 minutes into the first half:
Toyo’s strong FW gave them the upper hand, while Waseda pushed back with hard work on the defensive side of the field. Once Toyo got in front of the enemy’s in-goal, but Waseda got the ball back in a tight battle and kicked it back to the Toyo camp. From there, Toyo attacked again, this time to the right. The ball was passed from the densely-packed area to the SO and then to the CTB, who threw a pass. Waseda’s SH, MIYAO, who had read the flow of the pass, intercepted the ball, broke through behind the enemy defense, and scored a try right under the opponents’ goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Waseda scored the first point, making the score 7-0.
Waseda scored a valuable try in a poor game.
28 minutes into the first half:
Toyo attacked continuously from their own line. Little by little, they made their way into the enemy territory. From there, they moved to the right and Toyo’s FB TANAKA broke through two opposing defenders and advanced forward at full speed, finally passing to Toyo’s SH KANDA, who scored a try in the middle of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was tied 7-7.
39 minutes into the first half:
Toyo made progress through a set play by the FWs, who had the advantage in the first half after entering enemy territory. First, Toyo pushed their opponents forward in a scrum, and after being pushed in, Waseda couldn’t resist collapsing the scrum and were fouled. From here, Toyo opted for a penalty kick, which resulted in a lineout in front of the enemy in-goal. Toyo secured their own ball, and after a maul, they surged forward and scored a try by Toyo’s hooker TANINA. The conversion goal after the try was unsuccessful. The score was 7-12, and Toyo University succeeded in turning the score around.
The first half ended as it did, with Toyo University holding the upper hand going into the second half.
As predicted by the sports media before the match, Toyo University, with its equally powerful FWs, was a formidable opponent for Waseda, which had suffered complete defeat against the powerful FWs of Teikyo and Meiji in this season’s group of competitive matches. Against Toyo University, which was pushed into the game by set plays and has a decisive BK, it will be interesting to see how they will recover in the second half.
Let us begin the second half. Waseda made a player change at the start of the second half, replacing hooker YASUTUNE with SATO. SATO, who was injured in the match a week ago, was introduced to try to rebuild the set piece.
3 minutes into the second half:
Waseda, wanting to score first in the second half, BK deployed to the left near the center of the ground. The Toyo defenders tackled and stopped them, and FL TANIELA went to steal the ball from a downed Waseda player, where he drew a foul from Waseda. Toyo’s SO DOBASHI took the penalty kick that he earned here and kicked it out to a position just before the enemy’s in-goal, a great kick. Toyo secured their own ball from a lineout, then moved forward in a maul, and hooker TANINA scored his second try of the day.
The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Toyo succeeded in increasing the score difference to 7-19.
6 minutes into the second half:
The tide of the game was turning in Toyo’s favor. From the kick-off after the try, Waseda entered the enemy territory, and from a scrum, the ball was passed to the SH from No.8, where CTB YOSHIMURA got close to the ball, shifted his timing, and received the ball. This allowed YOSHIMURA to get behind the enemy defense and score a try right under the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 14-19 to Waseda, pulling the game back to the other side.
10 minutes into the second half:
Waseda made a player change at this point, replacing KOIZUMI at FB with ITOH, who had been a key player in Waseda’s BK, but was making his first appearance in this match due to injury. Now, it was going to be a test to see if ITOH could be the catalyst for Waseda.
11 minutes into the second half.
Waseda had a scrum on the right side of the field, just inside the enemy territory, where they pushed past Toyo and won a penalty kick. This was the first time Waseda had beaten Toyo in a scrum in this match. The change of hooker to SATO paid off.
18 minutes into the second half:
Waseda was now able to go toe-to-toe with Toyo in the scrum. Waseda was able to supply the ball smoothly to BK from the scrums and gradually started to advance in the enemy territory. Then, in front of the goal posts in the enemy territory, WASEDA drew an infringement from their opponents and gained the right for a PG. CTB YOSHIMURA scored to bring Waseda within 2 points, 17-19.
26 minutes into the second half.
Waseda was now able to provide a steady supply of ball in the scrums, allowing them to make full use of the wide expanses of the ground in a series of attacks. The ball was spread from the right end to the left end and then to the right end again, and finally passed to WTB MAKI, who scored a try at the right end of the in-goal of the enemy line.
Waseda finally got back on top with a successful conversion goal to make the score 24-19.
33 minutes into the second half:
Waseda was able to spread the ball more freely and had more time to attack in the enemy’s territory. Toyo could no longer cope with Waseda’s speed. Waseda’s left WTB MATSUSHITA ran to the right side of the field, received the ball, and shook off the Toyo defenders to score a try in the right corner of the enemy in-goal. Waseda also succeeded in scoring the conversion goal after the try, pulling the score to 31-19.
42 minutes into the second half:
With only a few minutes remaining, Toyo tried their best to attack, but their attacks were too few and far between, and they could not get out of their own half. As the horn sounded for the last play, Waseda had a PG opportunity in front of the goal post in enemy territory. Waseda’s CTB Yoshimura converted it to make the final score 34-19 in favor of Waseda.
Waseda will now face Meiji University in the quarterfinals of the University Championships on December 25. Can Waseda University humiliate Meiji and advance to the semi-finals of the championship?
Despite the loss in this match, Toyo University added a new record to the University Championship and the history of their alma mater, not only returning to the first division of the Kanto University League group for the first time in 29 years, but also making their first appearance in the University Championship. Their success must have touched the hearts of many rugby fans, not just those associated with Toyo University. We hope to see them again on the championship stage next season. Thank you for Toyo University Rugby Club.
Stop the war.
Peace to Ukraine