RUGBY JERSEY – September 10, Japan vs Chili

Latin America: The Passion of Chile

(Written by Azul: November 1st, 2023)

On the fourth day of our stay in France, we welcomed the main event of this tour, the first match of the Japanese national rugby team. The day before, I had taken a late-night bus back home early in the morning, so I was a little sleep-deprived, but when I woke up in the morning, I was fired up to cheer for the Japanese team.

The route to the stadium (Stadium de Toulouse),

From Hotel Viktor Yugo, take a 5-minute walk to Jean-Jaureit station, then take the metro to Barriere de Paris station.

From there, we took a free shuttle bus to the stadium. It took about 40 minutes.

After getting off the bus, we walked about 2 km. On the way, there was a checkpoint and a scary-looking policeman was checking us. Actually, I wanted to bring my beloved camera, but it seems that cameras other than smartphones were not allowed, so all photos of this tour were taken with my iPhone SE.

After walking along a long straight road and crossing a bridge, we saw the stadium on our right.

This stadium, Stadium de Toulouse, is remembered by Japanese people as the stadium where the Japanese national soccer team played its first match against Argentina when it participated in the 1998 FIFA World Cup for the first time. It was also the stadium where Japan’s rugby team played its first match against Fiji in RWC 2007. In the past, the Japanese national soccer and rugby teams lost both of these matches. This time, the national rugby team will play two matches at this stadium and will also choose Toulouse as their base camp for the duration of the tournament. Will Japan be able to make history by winning a match at this stadium?

As soon as I arrived at the stadium, there was a problem when I tried to enter the stadium. To my surprise, the barcode on my ticket had already been used and I was not allowed to enter. I had come all the way from Japan to France, and now I would not be able to see the important match? For a moment, I panicked, but just to be sure, I printed out my ticket on paper, and the barcode was read without incident. Thank goodness.

The area around the stadium was already crowded with spectators 90 minutes before kickoff. Most of the spectators were from Japan and Chile, but there were also many local French spectators.

Now, let me introduce the national teams of the two countries that will be competing this day.

First, let us introduce the only first-time entrant in RWC 2023, Chile, nicknamed Los Condores, who will be making their first RWC appearance after defeating the United States in the RWC 2023 Americas Final.

At the start of the match, the team was ranked 22nd in the world. The starting lineup for Los Condores on this day was as follows.

Los Condores
1Javier CARRASCO176cm114kg2619
2Diego ESCOBAR176cm103kg236
3Matias DITTUS181cm120kg3020
4Clemente SAAVEDRA191cm110kg2521
5Javier EISSMANN200cm118kg2520
6Martin SIGREN191cm103kg2724
7Raimundo MARTINEZ180cm102kg2310
8Alfonso ESCOBAR183cm101kg2617
9Marcelo TORREALBA170cm78kg2712
10Rodrigo FERNANDEZ184cm97kg2823
11Franco VELARDE177cm95kg2816
12Matias GARAFULIC184cm95kg2317
13Domingo SAAVEDRA181cm94kg2518
14Santiago VIDERALA179cm89kg241
15Inaki AYARZA186cm102kg2412

Los Condores won a close match in the RWC qualifying round, so if the match gets complicated until the end of the match, the upper-ranked Japanese team may be caught flat-footed.

And, above all, over 10,000 supporters from Chile came to watch the match, and their cheering will be a great help.

Next, I would like to introduce the Japanese national team, nicknamed the Brave Blossoms. At this point in time, Japan was ranked 12th in the world.

In the test match just before the start of the RWC, the team had a poor record of 1 win and 5 losses. More than 10,000 Japanese supporters came to the match venue to cheer on the Blossoms, which was as big as Chile’s. Since RWC2019 was held in their hometown, it was only natural that Japanese supporters would gather, but this was the first time that this many Japanese supporters gathered for a tournament held overseas. This shows the high expectations that Japanese people have for their home team. However, if the Brave Blossoms suffer a repeat of their previous disastrous defeats, they will lose their fans, so I hope the Brave Blossoms will show us a game with a lot of spirit.

Today’s starting lineup was as follows.

Brave Blossoms
1Keita INAGAKI186cm116kg3350
2Atsushi SAKATE180cm104kg3038
3Ji-won GU183cm117kg2926
4Amanaki SAUMAKI189cm108kg262
5Amato FAKATAVA195cm118kg284
6Michael LEITCH189cm113kg3581
7Kanji SHIMOKAWA188cm105kg233
8Jack CORNELSEN195cm110kg2817
9Yutaka NAGARE166cm75kg3135
10Rikiya MATSUDA181cm92kg2934
11Jone NAIKABULA177cm95kg295
12Ryoto NAKAMURA182cm92kg3236
13Dylan RILEY187cm102kg2615
14Kotaro MATSUSHIMA178cm88kg3052
15Semisi MASIREWA181cm93kg316

And the game kicked off at 13:00 local time.

It was Los Condores who took the lead in this match.

The Brave Blossoms had a bad habit of scoring first in the most important game of the tournament.

Chili supporters seemed to have a cheer leader for each block of the stadium, and in our block, the person in the photo above was the leader. The Japanese cheering was limited to individual cheers, and there was no set cheering song, but the Chilean supporters were superior in their leadership.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Chile took the lead 0-7.

Enthusiastic Chilean supporters. The amount of enthusiasm of the Chilean supporters was truly amazing. Chile is also a passionate Latin American country. However,the Brave Blossoms scored tries and conversion goals in the 8th, 30th, and 44th minutes of the first half, and the score was 21-7 at the end of the first half.

Can the Brave Blossoms continue to win against Los Condores as they are ranked in the world?

The Japanese national team seemed to have changed their defensive system since the test match before the start of the RWC. Instead of having a thick defensive perimeter around the densely packed field, they have changed to a single line of defense across the field. This left the defense right next to the scrums and rucks thin, which was repeatedly breached by the Los Condores halves.

Could Brave Blossoms fill this defensive hole?

The second half began.

It was again Los Condores who scored first in the second half.

8 minutes into the second half, Los Condores’ No. 8 ESCOBAR scored a try in the middle of the left field.

The conversion goal after the try failed, but the score was 21-12, and Los Condores was in the mood to catch up.

The Chilean supporters, who had been silent for some time, began to sing a chorus of cheering songs again.

The supporters stood up and began to sing loudly.

But it must be a good feeling to cheer this loudly. Personally, it reminded me of the first match of the Japanese national soccer team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. I

It is already a great feeling when your country participates in the dream stage of the World Cup for the first time and scores a point.

However, in the second half, Brave Blossoms scored three tries and a conversion goal in the 13th, 31st, and 39th minutes of the second half against a tiring Los Condores team, to win the match 42-12.

Los Condores lost, but left their mark in their first RWC appearance. They are expected to do well in the future.

I coudn’t hide my sadness at the thought that next day would be the end of my week-long tour of France. These were probably the most enjoyable days of my life so far.

But the RWC will be held again in four years, and I am looking forward to that.

Next time, if I can, I’d like to have enough funds to stay in the host city from start to finish…I’ll need about 2 million yen.

I’ll also buy a lottery ticket.

After the games, I went back to the city of Toulouse, but I noticed that many stores are not open on Sundays in France. It was so quiet that the liveliness of weekdays was a lie. However, in such a town, I found Mr. Tsuchida, the president of the Japan Rugby Football Union. He seemed to have come to watch the Japan national team’s game and to welcome with the Japanese supporters who had arrived in the area.

After staying in Toulouse for a few days, I found out that the price of a meal at a regular restaurant was quite expensive, but pizza was reasonable price.

Beer and pizza together cost only about 15 euros. It was almost the same price as eating in Japan.

I am sorry to leave Toulouse, but before going back to Japan, I dropped by Matabio station, which holds many memories for us.

Goodbye Toulouse, I will come again someday. Thank you for all the fun memories.

On September 12, the last day of my stay, I took a cab to Blagnac airport at 4:30 in the morning due to a change of departure time. The plane departed at 6:00 am. Of course, the sun had not yet risen. We arrived at CDG airport in Paris in a little over an hour.

The sun finally came up when we arrived in Paris. We had a long layover from here, and the Cathay Pacific Airlines flight from Paris to Hong Kong was scheduled to depart a little after 12;00. Since I had some spare time, I bought some souvenirs in the CDG airport.

Chocolates, which are typical Parisian souvenirs, cost 8 euros.

This is also a typical Parisian souvenir chocolate. 10 Euro.

A slightly smaller sized chocolate. 5 euros.

A classic Parisian souvenir. Macarons. 10 euros. The picture shows only the bag, but the macaroons that my daughter asked for were purchased at the duty free store in the airport and cost 40 euros. The difference in price is quite a big difference.

Now it is time to leave France for Japan. However, it was a long journey from here. Cathay Pacific Airlines is a Chinese airline, so they do not have an embargo on Russian oil, so the ticket was cheaper. Compared to Japanese and European airlines, tickets were 70,000 to 100,000 yen cheaper. Furthermore, the flight route went through the Chinese continent, so we flew over the Gobi Desert and the disputed Black Sea. Finally, we arrived at Hong Kong, our final transit point, at almost 7:00 a.m. the next day.

After two hours in Hong Kong, we departed for Japan at 9:00 a.m. We did not have much time to spare, but we were able to fly to the airport in Hong Kong. Although we did not have much time, we had a light meal at the Hong Kong airport.

Then, we boarded a plane from Hong Kong Airport to Narita, Japan, departing almost as scheduled. September is typhoon season in Japan, so we expected some accidents before departure, but we were happy to return home safely.

We arrived safely at Narita Airport in Japan at 14:30 on September 12, 2023. I would like to take my family to France next time as it gave me a lot of good memories.

Au Revoir,France.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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