RUGBY JERSEY – Kanto University Rugby 

Teikyo University vs Waseda University: the rise of the golden generation

(Written by Azul: November 26, 2023)

The RWC2023 in France ended with South Africa winning the tournament for the fourth time. Japan’s Brave Blossoms Rugby team tried to reach the final tournament for the second time, but unfortunately ended up in third place in their pool after losing to Argentina’s Los Pumas final match in the pool. Back in Japan, the Blossoms began their domestic campaign for the RWC 2027 Australia in four years’ time.

The fun part of this time of year is finding out if there are any promising players developing in the younger generation for the next four years. In case you are wondering, this year’s 19-year-olds have been dubbed the Golden Generation after their high school national team toured Ireland and went toe-to-toe with the Irish U-18s, who are regarded as the best in the world. Hence, the number of players who have secured regular places in each of the domestic universities, even as first-year students, is more conspicuous than in previous years. This season’s domestic rugby will follow such promising newcomers.

On 5 November 2023, a Kanto University Rugby match between Teikyo University (last season’s first-placed team) and Waseda University (last season’s third-placed team) took place.

Looking at the most recent results, Teikyo University has dominated Waseda. In the final of last season’s University Championships, Teikyo University won by a score of 73-20 against Waseda University. Teikyo University was so strong that there was a big gap between them and other universities. It remains to be seen whether a team that can threaten last season’s University Championship champions, Teikyo University, will emerge this season.

Every year, when I watch the University Championships, I inevitably have many opportunities to hear the school song of the winning school, Teikyo University, so I naturally learn it. It is now a prestigious name that has sent the largest number of players to the Japanese national rugby team.

And in the match of the day, most of the sports media predicted that Teikyo University would win by a huge margin.

Can last year’s University Championship runners-up Waseda University overturn this previous reputation?

Let’s take a look at the starting line-up for the day. First up is Defending Champion Teikyo University.

Teikyo University 
1Hanjiro HIRAI180cm108kg20 
2Hayate ERA171cm100kg22U-18 JAPAN
3Taro UESUGI176cm113kg21 
4Takuma MOTOHASHI193cm118kg21 
5Ryeon YOON186cm108kg22 
6Keito AOKI187cm110kg21 
7Akito OKUI177cm103kg22U-18 JAPAN
8Shuto NOBUHARA182cm100kg21U-18 JAPAN
9Kumusu LEE174cm80kg21 
10Hitaka INOUE175cm80kg22 
11Tomu TAKAMOTO182cm90kg22U-18 JAPAN
12Yoshiki OMACHI172cm82kg19U-18 JAPAN
13Yamato UEDA180cm85kg18U-18 JAPAN
14Jyunnosuke AOYAGI177cm83kg19U-18 JAPAN
15Shinya KOMURA179cm87kg21 

University champions Teikyo University have few members missing from last season, with their powerful FWs remaining largely intact. In addition, this season, two newcomers, UEDA at CTB and AOYAGI at WTB, are considered the golden generation and have been named in the starting line-up immediately.

Next is the starting line-up for last season’s University Championship runners-up, Waseda University, as follows.

Waseda University 
1Yutaro YAMAGUCHI175cm110kg19 
2Kenji SATO177cm108kg20 
3Taiga KAWASAKI171cm108kg20 
4Jingo MURATA185cm104kg21 
5Daiki IKEMOTO186cm105kg21 
6Naoto YASUTSUNE172cm98kg20 
7Hitoshi NAGASHIMA178cm96kg22 
8Kanji MATSUNUMA177m93kg19U18 Japan
9Haruta SHIMAMOTO167m71kg21 
10Daisuke ITO179cm88kg22U18 Japan
11Yoshitaka YAZAKI180cm86kg19U18,U20 Japan
12Kengo NONAKA180cm95kg20U18 ,U20Japan
13Soma OKAZAKI177cm91kg21 
14Taisei MORIYA175cm85kg21 
15Daisuke ITO179cm88kg22U18 Japan

Waseda University has changed quite a few regular members since last season. This season, SO/FB ITO has been appointed as the captain and it will be interesting to see what kind of rugby he can show us.

Waseda University also has a golden generation of first-year players in the starting line-up, with No.8 MATSUNUMA and WTB YAZAKI. I too have high expectations for their performance.

Let’s start the first half of the match.

5 minutes into the first half: Waseda University tried to hold on through attacking and a tight FW battle, but were unable to break down Teikyo’s solid defense. In response, Teikyo University took the ball in the enemy line and deployed to the right to create a numerical advantage and CTB UEDA scored a try in the middle on the right in the in-goal area. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and Teikyo University scored first. The score was 7-0 to Teikyo University. Teikyo University’s remarkable freshman CTB UEDA quickly put on a show and scored.

Teikyo dominated Waseda in set plays, especially in the scrums, and it looked like it was going to be a one-sided game for Teikyo University, as it was last season. However, Waseda, despite being pushed in the scrums, managed to secure their own ball and created opportunities for successive attacks. In contrast, Teikyo University penetrated Waseda’s defense several times and created some decisive opportunities, but at the critical moment, they made a handling error and were unable to score.

38 minutes into the first half:
After a stalemate between the two teams, it looked like the first half was going to end, but Teikyo University finally broke the deadlock.
After an infringement by Waseda University, the game resumed with a lineout in Teikyo University’s ball. Teikyo University secured the ball, and the lock YOON turned wide and scored a try right under the goal post.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Teikyo University made the score 14-0.

44 minutes into the first half:
Waseda University was infringed after a scrum broke down as they were entering enemy territory. Teikyo University’s SO INOUE tried to kick for touch deep into the enemy territory, but due to a control error, the ball did not go off the line.

Waseda University attempted a counter attack from here, and FB ITOH kicked two short punts, succeeding in re-gaining possession both times and quickly approaching the enemy goal post. Finally, Waseda’s No.8 MATSUNUMA picked up the ball and scored a try right under the enemy goal post.

With this try at the end of the first half, Waseda University cleared away the heavy mood of the game.

The place erupted in cheers at the try, and it was clear that about 70% of the crowd on that day were Waseda fans.

My impression after the first half was that Waseda University showed a lot of tenacity against Teikyo University, the university champion, unlike last season, and I was looking forward to the second half of this match.

Waseda University was pushed by Teikyo University in the scrums and suffered a disadvantage, but put on a show with dense battles and continuous attacks. against the disadvantage in the FW, Waseda tried to counter with their traditional style of play: “development,” “close,” and “continuous. What kind of play will Waseda show in the second half? Will Teikyo University be able to show their true strength in the second half?

Let’s get the second half underway.
5 minutes into the second half:
From the start of the second half, Teikyo put on heavy pressure with their scrums and steadily advanced their position deep into enemy territory. Here, Waseda’s speedy development allowed them to once again attack deep into the opponents’ territory, but a handling error allowed the ball to drop down, and Teikyo University’s WTB TAKAMOTO picked it up and scored a try right under the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 21-7. Waseda came within a whisker of scoring a try, but a handling error cost them dearly.

13 minutes into the second half:
It would be rude to say this was unexpected, but in this game Waseda was rarely easily overtaken by Teikyo defensively, and showed some tenacious attacking. Especially in this period, Waseda connected the ball one after another and showed a series of attacks typical of Waseda.
In the end, a lineout from the right side, which resulted from a foul by Teikyo, led to a maul, and Waseda moved the maul against the powerful Teikyo University FW to score a brilliant try in the middle of the right field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 21-14, and Waseda was again within 7 points!

18 minutes into the second half:
Perhaps sensing Waseda’s momentum in terms of ball control, Teikyo opted for a rare PG when Teikyo had a chance deep in enemy territory following a foul by their opponents. Teikyo’s SO INOUE made a steady run to put Waseda ahead by 10 points, 24-14.

28 minutes into the second half:
The close match up to this time period gave the game a good sense of urgency, making it a match worth watching. Especially after Waseda got into the enemy’s territory, they broke through at key points. Waseda’s hooker SATOH broke free of a tackle deep in the enemy camp, made a big gain, and then made an exquisite pass to the lock MURATA in front of the goal, who despite being tackled, scored a persistent try in the left corner of the enemy in-goal. The crowd gave the Waseda players the loudest cheer of the day.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 24-21, Waseda was finally within 3 points.

34 minutes into the second half:
Toward the end of the match, Teikyo’s substitutes made a noticeable impact. Waseda was unable to stop the Teikyo attack, and in the end, Teikyo flanker Okui broke through the enemy defense and scored a try in the middle of the left field in-goal area. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 31-21 in favor of Teikyo.

Teikyo continued their momentum with another try at the end of the match, making the final score 36-21.
Although Waseda University was finally pushed aside in the end, Waseda University was able to play a closer game against Teikyo, the university champion, compared to last season, which gives us high expectations for future matches in the University Championships.

We look forward to another exciting match between the two teams at the University Championships in about a month’s time.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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