RUGBY JERSEY -National University Rugby Championship 3rd Round 

 (Written by Azul: January 7, 2024)

This season’s National University Rugby Championship has begun.

The participating schools are as follows.

Participating schools Breakdown: 14

(1) Kanto University Rivalry Group Top 5 schools:

  1st : Teikyo University

  2nd : Meiji University

  3rd : Waseda University

  4th : University of Tsukuba

  5th : Keio University

2) Kanto University League Group Top 3 Schools:

  1st : Tokai University

  2nd : Ryutsu Keizai University

  3rd : Hosei University

3) Kansai University League Top 3 schools:

1st : Kyoto Sangyo University

2nd : Tenri University

3rd : Kwansei Gakuin University

4) Kyushu Student Rugby League 1st : Kyushu Institute of Technology

(5) Hokkaido Tohoku District Representative: Hachinohe Gakuin University

6) Tokai, Hokuriku, Chugoku, Shikoku district representative: Chukyo University

The difference in the number of schools selected in each league is due to the most recent results.

As of this day (December 17), the third round had already started, and the number of spectators was 4,402, about 20% of the capacity of Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium. The attendance was a little sad, with only a few people from the participating schools and a few general rugby fans coming to watch the game.

It is expected that the excitement of this tournament will start after the semifinals, where the top schools will meet. Teikyo University, the current two-time consecutive winner of the championship, has a good reputation, and it will be interesting to see how far the top teams from each league can go against them.

I watched the following two matches.

(1) Ryutsu Keizai University vs University of Tsukuba

(2) Waseda University vs. Hosei University

Let me introduce the opposing teams for the first match.

First, let me tell you about the Ryutsu Keizai University Rugby Club.

The club was founded in 1965. In recent years, the team has been ranked at the top of the Kanto University League group and is becoming a regular participant in the National University Rugby Championships. The team’s best result in the championship was the top eight. The team is a free-attacking team, capable of scoring from any position in the FW and BK. However, the top teams in the championship have strong FWs and strong defenses, so breaking through this barrier is the key to advancing to the final four.

Today’s starting lineup is as follows.

Ryutsu Keizai University 
1Jinichiro TAMANAGA177cm112kg22 
2Shunsuke SAKUTA176cm103kg22 
3Kazuma YOSHIMURA176cm112kg22 
4Kenta UEDA182cm100kg21 
5Len SCHINCKEL186cm108kg21 
6Hikaru SHINOZAWA183cm101kg21 
7Toshiya HARADA170cm93kg22 
8Loketi TISILELI191cm122kg21 
9Yosuke TAKEI168cm72kg22 
10Kai SASAKI172cm81kg21 
11Ryo TOMA177cm93kg21 
12Haruto SUGISAKI178cm90kg22 
13Andrew HAYWARD186cm96kg21 
14Aporosa DERENALAGI188cm86kg22 
15Fuma NAKAMURA170cm73kg21 

** Player to watch **

Kai SASAKI, 172 cm, 81 kg, 21 years old. He is a graduate of Jyosho Gakuen High School. As an attacking SO, he is the leader of Ryutsu Keizai University’s attack this season.  He played a close game against Tokai University, the champion of the Kanto University League group for six straight years, and was involved in the championship game. He shows an aggressive attack centering on his own run play. The team has high expectations for Ryutsu Keizai University to achieve its best ever performance in the University Championship.

Next, let us introduce our opponent, The University of Tsukuba Rugby Club.

This club made it to the top four in the University Championship last season, and is expected to make great strides this season. University of Tsukuba and Ryutsu Keizai University’s campuses are located close to each other, and the two teams often play each other close, perhaps because they know each other’s game well through practice matches. This season, the team has a strong starting lineup that includes five members of the Japanese high school national team.

The starting lineup for this match is as follows.

Tsukuba University 
1Ryosei OTSUKA174cm95kg23 
2Hayate HIRAISHI178cm100kg21 
3Masato TANAKA182cm107kg22 
4Tomonosuke SHIROMARU185cm105kg19U18 Japan
5Shuntaro ISOBE190cm110kg19 
6Kodai Sean YOKOMIZO187cm90kg21 
7Kenkichi YANAGAWA188cm100kg22 
8Hayata TANIYAMA184m95kg22U18 Japan
9Yutaro TAKAHASHI172m74kg20U18,U20 Japan
10Kanjiro NARAMOTO177cm84kg19U18 ,U20Japan,JJ
11Ryota OHATA175cm75kg21 
12Kai HAMASHIMA176cm75kg22 
13Kento IIOKA183cm83kg19U18 Japan
14Toshiki KUROSAWA173cm80kg22 
15Tasuku MASUYAMA177cm82kg19 
JJ=Junior Japan

** Player to watch **

Kanjiro NARAMOTO. 177 cm, 84 kg, 19 years old. A graduate of Higashi Fukuoka High School, he has been selected for Japan’s U18, U20, and Junior Japan national teams, and possesses the wide tactical vision, unmatched kicking accuracy, and individual breakthrough ability required of a SO.

Let the matches begin. Kick-off for the first match of the day was at 11:30.

8 minutes into the first half:

Ryutsu Keizai University started the game with a series of attacks, mainly by the FWs, in the enemy territory, producing a near try. However, in front of the enemy in-goal, they were fouled and missed a scoring opportunity.

In response, University of Tsukuba scored a try from a scrum near the centre of the ground, with No.8 TANIYAMA making a gain on the right side, and from there, the ball was spread wide to the left side, from CTB IIOKA to FB MASUYAMA, who scored a try in the middle left of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 0-7.

CTB IIOKA, who assisted the first try, is a member of this season’s much-talked-about Golden Generation of Rugby.

17 minutes into the first half:

Ryutsu Keizai University greatly outweigh Tsukuba University in terms of the average weight of their FWs, and show strength in contact play, but they are unable to mount a sustained attack due to a slightly high number of penalties. When Tsukuba attacked in this period, they were fouled deep in their own half, and a PG was scored by Tsukuba SO Naramoto, giving up three points.

21 minutes into the first half:

Ryutsu Keizai University had missed scoring opportunities up to this point due to a series of unnecessary infringements, but this time around they used their strength in set plays to their advantage and attacked deep into enemy territory, eventually scoring a try by FL Shinozawa in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, leaving the score 5-10.

25 minutes of the first half:

Shortly after the counter-attack, Ryutsu Keizai University committed another infringement and conceded a PG to Tsukuba University. This was scored by University of Tsukuba’s SO Naramoto, making the score 5-13.

28 minutes into the first half:

WTB DERENALAGI picked up the ball after being forced into his own half, and from there he dived past the opposition defense for a big gain and penetrated deep into enemy territory. From there, they used the strength of their individual contact to close in on the opposition in-goal, with FL SHINOZAWA scoring his second try of the day in the middle right of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, leaving the score 10-13.

38 minutes into the first half:

University of Tsukuba’s tactic for the day was to avoid set pieces and use the ground widely to develop their game. In contrast, Ryutsu Keizai University took on a contrasting style of play, starting with set plays, particularly scrums, and using the strength of individual contact to break the deadlock. The two sides scored points against each other in a match that was full of highlights and thrilled the crowd. Then, Ryutsu Keizai University scored in the closing stages of the first half. They continued to use contact play to push forward, and in the end, No. 8 TISILELI scored a try just below the goal post with a powerful move that saw two University of Tsukuba defenders fly over the line.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Ryutsu Keizai University successfully reversed the score to 17-13.

42 minutes into the first half:

After the turnaround, Ryutsu Keizai University committed another foul immediately afterwards, giving Tsukuba University the opportunity to score a PG. This was steadily converted by University of Tsukuba’s SO Naramoto to end the first half with the score at 17-16 to one point.

The last time these two teams met in the University Championships, it was a close match, and this time it seemed like a similar story. A good match is expected in the second half as well.

1st minute into the second half:

The two teams kicked each other soon after the start of the match, with University of Tsukuba FB MASUYAMA counter-attacking from deep in his own half after a University of Ryutsu Keizai kick. MASUYAMA then rode at top speed and, after shaking off a succession of pursuing Ryutsu Keizai University defenders, scored a try in the middle left of that in-goal in enemy territory.The conversion goal after the try was also successful and the score was 17-23 to the University of Tsukuba.

17 minutes into the second half:

The visitor team had a number of set piece opportunities in this period, and on each occasion, Ryutsu Keizai University pushed University of Tsukuba in front at the scrum, and closed in on the opposition in-goal. When they had a lineout opportunity in front of the in-goal, they secured the ball, formed a maul and went close to the in-goal at once.At this point, Tsukuba University committed an infringement by deliberately collapsing a maul, resulting in a certified try for Ryutsu Keizai University, and the score was 24-23 to Ryutsu Keizai University, giving them a one-point lead. The University of Tsukuba’s prop Tanaka was temporarily sent off for 10 minutes for this foul.

18 minutes into the second half:

A dense battle at the restart drew a foul on Ryutsu Keizai University, giving them a PG opportunity, which SO Naramoto converted to make the score 24-26.

27 minutes into the second half:

Ryutsu Keizai University were outplayed by Tsukuba University in a densely contested battle and were forced into their own in-goal after a series of infringements. From a lineout on their own ball, Tsukuba University surged forward in a maul and went in for a try, but Ryutsu Keizai University defended well and prevented a try. However, the University of Tsukuba’s FW repeated a side-attack in a dense battle immediately afterwards, and scored a try in the middle on the left.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 24-33 to Tsukuba University’s nine-point lead.

38 minutes into the second half:

With time running out, the game was at a stalemate. The visitors had to get to within seven points at least early on, or they would be unable to mount a comeback, given the time remaining. Here, Ryutsu Keizai University opted for a PG after a foul by their opponents, and SO SASAKI, despite being downwind, aimed a 40-metre PG, which he successfully completed.

From the kick-off after Tsukuba University’s PG, Ryutsu Keizai University counter-attacked and No.8 TISILELI made a big gain and got into Tsukuba University’s territory, but in the remaining time, Tsukuba University skillfully consumed time and the game was over. As a result, University of Tsukuba won the match and advanced to the quarter-finals.

The two schools congratulated each other on their good performance.

Next, the second match of the day was Waseda University vs Hosei University.

Every year, I think, there are more than 40 minutes between the first and second games, and if you are watching two games in a row in the middle of winter, you are exposed to the north wind for almost five hours in a row, which is cold.

Let me now introduce the two schools that will play in the second match.

First, let’s talk about Waseda University Rugby Club.

This season, Waseda University finished third in the Kanto University Rivalry Group, losing to Teikyo University and Meiji University. However, the matches they lost this season were close defeats, and last season they came from third place in the Kanto University Rivalry Group to runners-up in the University Championship, so we expect them to bounce back from this. Today’s opponents, Hosei University, are the same type of team who play with the ability to develop their BK, so we expect a good match.

This day’s starting line-up is as follows.

Waseda University 
1Airou SUGIMOTO179cm112kg20U19 Japan
2Kenji SATO177cm108kg20 
3Taiga KAWASAKI171cm108kg20 
4Daito HOSOKAWA182cm102kg22 
5Daiki IKEMOTO186cm105kg21 
6Naoto YASUTSUNE172cm98kg20 
7Hitoshi NAGASHIMA178cm96kg22 
8Kanji MATSUNUMA177m93kg19U18 Japan
9Shota SHIMIZU171m70kg21 
10Rentaro HISATOMI172cm83kg22 
11Shuho FUKUSHIMA183cm92kg20U18 Japan
12Kengo NONAKA180cm95kg20U18 ,U20Japan
13Soma OKAZAKI177cm91kg21 
14Yoshitaka YAZAKI180cm86kg19U18,U20 Japan
15Daisuke ITO179cm88kg22U18 Japan

** Player to watch **.

Yoshitaka YAZAKI. 180 cm, 86 kg, 19 years old. Born in Toin Gakuen High School. Position = FB, WTB. U18, U20 Japan national team. Japan Rugby Golden Generation leader. As a first-year high school student, he was already a regular player at Toin Gakuen High School, which won the national championship, and also won a regular position at Waseda University as soon as he entered the school. His speed, tactical awareness and contact play are outstanding for a player of his age group. He is a player who is expected to make the national team in the near future.

Next, I would like to introduce the Hosei University Rugby Club.

Hosei University qualified for the University Championship this season by finishing third in the Kanto University League group.

The team boasts the highest number of victories in the Kanto University League Group with 13 championships. The team also won the University Championship in the 1965 and 1992 seasons. However, in recent years the team’s results have been poor and it has been six years since they have qualified for the University Championship. The team’s style of rugby is oriented towards running rugby, with the BK playing a wide role.

This day’s starting line-up is as follows.

Hosei University 
1Ryota YOTSUMOTO169cm102kg22 
2Kugo ISHIKAWA168cm93kg21 
3Meishi WATANABE171cm105kg21 
4Kanta HOSOKAWA184cm103kg19 
5Riki TAKEBE186cm111kg21 
6Takenori YAMASHITA170cm85kg22 
7Kohki MIYASHITA186cm105kg19U20Japan
8Kiichi TAKAGI186cm100kg22 
9Kazuma YAMAWAKI170cm73kg21 
10You KIM175cm84kg21 
11Shuji SHIIBA173cm80kg23 
12Taisei TANAKA176cm85kg20 
13Shun NAKAI172cm84kg21 
14Rei ISHIOKA177cm80kg22U18 Japan
15Takuru KITAGAWA170cm82kg20 

** Player to watch **

Shuji SHIIBA. 173 cm, 80 kg, 23 years old. He is a graduate of Hyuga High School in Miyazaki Prefecture.

Although he did not participate in any national tournaments in high school, he was a hard-working player who won a regular place at Hosei University, which is full of fast-footed athletes.This season, he is the BK leader at Hosei University. He is a decisive WTB who makes his presence felt on the scoresheet. He will be looking to accumulate as many wins as possible as he enters his final year.

Let the matches begin. Kick-off for the second match was at 14:00.

In the early stages of the match, Hosei University’s inconsistent set play gradually allowed Waseda University to gain ground. They were pushed in scrums and contact play, and gradually made headway. Then, from a lineout near the enemy in-goal, Waseda University pushed forward in a maul and hooker SATOH scored a try in the middle on the right. The conversion goal after the try was missed. The score was 5-0.

13 minutes into the first half:

Waseda University scored a PG to make the score 8-0. Both Waseda and Hosei played quick, spread-out rugby, using the whole ground, but Waseda was quicker in the cluster. As a result, most of the match was played in Hosei University’s camp.

24 minutes into the first half:

Hosei kicked the ball deep into enemy territory, Waseda University passed the ball from right to left, the ball was passed to Waseda University WTB YAZAKI in the right corner and he dashed to the top, overtook the Hosei defenders one after another with just his speed and ran over 70m without letting them touch him, scoring a try in the enemy in-goal.

Hosei University’s BK players also boasted speed, but Waseda University’s YAZAKI showed impressive speed that did not deter them at all. The conversion goal after the try failed, and the score was 13-0.

28 minutes of the first half:

Waseda University’s WTB YAZAKI was again mesmerising here. Unencumbered by the right WTB position, YAZAKI appeared to appear and disappear when on the attack. From a dense battle in Hosei University’s ranks, he received a pass from a FW side attack and accelerated from a stationary position to score a try in the middle on the left.

He moves so fast that the camera can’t keep up with him. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 20-0.

31 minutes into the first half:

The game became a one-sided game for Waseda University and Hosei University had extremely few opportunities to have the ball. Hosei University were not being pushed too far in terms of individual contact, but Waseda University were clearly quicker in gathering and dispersing players in dense areas, gradually closing in on the in-goal and finally Waseda University’s SO HISATOMI scored a try in the middle left of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and the score, 27-0.

Waseda University then scored one try, one goal and one PG in the first half to end the first half with a 37-0 margin.

Looking back at the first half, Hosei University did not make a single save against loose balls in dense battles. This is a bit of a stretch, but it is thought that Waseda University were the first to get to a dropped ball in any phase of the game, which meant that Hosei University were not allowed to make any saves. Both teams play development-oriented rugby, so it was no wonder that the points gap was so wide if they were always on the back foot against even ball. In the second half, I expect Hosei University to rally.

Let’s get the second half underway.

Perhaps the coach gave them a hard time at half-time, Hosei University started to stop losing the ball carelessly. In the first scrum of the second half, they pushed Waseda University repeatedly, causing Waseda University to break the scrum and concede an infringement. Also, in the 9th minute of the second half, Hosei University FB KITAGAWA slipped behind the Waseda University defensive net, and for the first time in the match, the crowd cheered Hosei University’s play.

19 minutes into the second half:

Hosei University started to show more tenacity in attack and defense, and the game started to get more interesting, but Waseda University still showed their strength in close quarters battles, and gradually attacked deep into enemy territory from a series of attacks. WTB FUKUSIMA scored a try in the left corner of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, but Waseda University scored the first points of the second half. The score was 42-0.

27 minutes into the second half:

Perhaps inspired by Hosei University’s attacking fervour, Waseda University went on the offensive again here. From the kick-off after the try, the teams were locked in a tight battle, and a Hosei infringement led to a scrum on Waseda’s own ball. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 49-7.

37 minutes of the second half:

Waseda University came within a whisker of the enemy in-goal with a series of attacks. However, a knock-on infringement at this point resulted in a scrum in Hosei University’s favour. From this deep position, Hosei University moved to the left and FB KITAGAWA kicked the ball. Hosei WTB SIIBA dribbled the ball, which rolled into the enemy’s in-goal, and held it himself for a try. The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was 49-12.

Looking at the second half of the match alone, Hosei University and Waseda University were evenly matched. The fans who came to see the match on this day would have expected the two sides to bring out the best in each other. In this respect, Waseda University could be said to have shown the difference in experience from their consecutive appearances in the University Championships.

41 minutes into the second half:

From the kick-off after the Waseda’s try, the visitors broke into the opposition line and a scrum ensued, but Waseda prop KAMEYAMA, who took over at this point, was able to push through, giving the visitors a reprieve from their poor start to the second half. The scrum drew a collapsing infringement from Hosei University, which led to a penalty kick and a lineout on their own ball. From there, Waseda University pushed forward in a maul and hooker Shimizu scored a try in the left corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed. Time ran out at this point and Waseda University won with a final score of 54-12.

As the University Championship is a tournament format where a loss is the end of the tournament, Waseda University will now face Kyoto Sangyo University, the number one ranked team in the Kansai League, in the quarter-finals. Hosei University’s season came to an end with this loss.

The first match of the day’s University Championships was a close and exciting affair, and the second match was not a close one in terms of score, but the loser, Hosei University, showed their strength in the second half, giving all concerned hope for the coming season. The next round of the championship is to be looked forward to.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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