RUGBY JERSEY – The Cross Border Rugby~.

Spears vs Chiefs

 (Written by Azul: March 3, 2024)

On February 10, 2024, I went to the Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground in Minato-ku, Tokyo to watch the final match of The Cross Border Rugby, an exchange match between Super Rugby from the southern hemisphere and League One from Japan.

Since the game was played in February when the temperature was low, I went to the sunny north stand as I did last week.

The Cross Border Rugby event consisted of four matches in total. The results of the matches so far were as follows

Feb. 3rd : Sungoliath vs Blues: 7-43

Feb. 4 th : Wild Knights vs Chiefs :38-14

Feb. 17th : Eagles vs Blues :22-57 

The Super Rugby side won two games and the League One side won one.

When I saw the first game against Blues, it looked like League One might lose the whole match, but Wild Knights showed their mettle. This opens up the possibility of holding another exchange match next year.

Now, for the final match, the hosts are the Spears, who finished first in League One last season, and their opponent is the Chiefs, who finished second in Super Rugby last season.

The photo above shows a supporter of the Japanese team in the bleachers. Probably, he was a supporter of Sun Wolves when Japan used to participate in Super Rugby.

The attendance on that day was 9,439. The turnout was not bad, but we hope both teams will show us a match worth watching.

Let me introduce the two teams for the final match.

First, let me introduce the host team, KUBOTA Spears.

Founded in 1978. KUBOTA Spears won the League One championship of Japan Rugby for the first time last season, and they have a strong FW who is as strong as any foreign team, and they have produced many Japanese national team players in BK. They are a team that can compete head-to-head with the Super Rugby teams. We hope that they will aim for victory in today’s match.

This day’s starting lineup was as follows.

1Kota KAISHI172cm102kg29 
2Schalk ERASMUS184cm109kg25 
3Shoya MATSUNAMI186cm110kg31 
4JD SCHICKERING203cm121kg28 
5Ruan BOTHA205cm120kg32 
6Finau TUPA190cm115kg34 
7Takeo SUENAGA178cm98kg29 
8Faulua Makisi187cm112kg27Japan 5cap
9Shinobu FUJIWARA171cm76kg25 
10Tomoki KISHIOKA178cm85kg26 
11Suryung KIM186cm90kg26 
12Rikus PRETORIUS193cm104kg25 
13Haratoa VAILEA187cm105kg24 
14Koga Nezuka173cm82kg25Japan 1cap
15Liam WILLIAMS188cm85kg33Wales 95cap

** Player to watch **

Liam Williams. 188 cm, 85 kg, 33 years old. He is one of the best FB in the world and was the unbeatable FB for Wales in the RWC2023. As a FB, he is expected to play a decisive role in the attack as well as playing defense at the back end of the team. What will he do in today’s match?

Next, I would like to introduce the visiting team, the Gallagher Chiefs.

Founded in 1996, the team is based in Waikato, NZ. They were two-time Super Rugby champions. Last season, they were the runners-up in the Super Rugby. The All Blacks players were restricted from participating in this Japan tour due to their contract with the NZ Association, and the team was made up mainly of young players, but they lost to the Wild Knights in their first match of the exchange match. The Chiefs were expected to make a comeback and win the match on this day. For today’s game, All Blacks regular CTB Anton LIENERT-BROWN has been used as a starter and game captain.

Today’s starting lineup was as follows.

Gallagher Chiefs
1Jared PROFFIT186cm113kg30 
2Bradley SLATER186cm110kg25 
3Reuben O”NIELL183cm117kg28 
4Manaaki SELBY-RICKIT200cm112kg27 
5Naitoa AHKUOI196cm116kg24 
6Wallace SITITI188cm108kg21 
7Tom FLORENCE190cm108kg25 
8Simon PALKER197m117kg23 
9Cortez RATIMA179m87kg22 
10Josh IOANE180cm85kg28NZ 1cap
11Peniasi MALIMALI180cm96kg27 
12Quinn TUPAEA186cm102kg24 NZ 14cap
13Anton LIENERT-BROWN185cm96kg28NZ 68cap
14Tana TUHAKARAINA180cm95kg26 
15Liam COOMBES-FABLING180cm83kg25 

** Player to watch **

Anton LIENERT-BROWN. 185cm, 96kg, 28 years old. Anton is a solid CTB for the All Blacks and a master of the offload pass, and played in all seven games at RWC 2023, contributing to their runner-up finish. He was not originally scheduled to play for the Chiefs in Japan, but after the defeat in the first game, he was rushed into the final game. It will be interesting to see how the current Chiefs play.

Now, let the games begin.

Before the game started, HAKA, War Cry, was performed by the Chiefs players.

8 minutes into the first half:

After the kickoff by the Chiefs, the Chiefs advanced the game in the enemy territory for a while, but Spears won the ball back in the middle of the field and advanced to the enemy territory. Spears chose to go for the PG. Spears’ CTB VAILEA scored the first goal of the game. The score was 3-0.

15 minutes into the first half:

The Chiefs came to the 22m line in the enemy territory, and showed their determination to score, and made a series of attacking phase, Spears also persisted in their defense in front of the goal, and did not let their defensive net pass easily, but Chiefs got the ball near the goal post, and SO IOANE showed cut out play and passed the ball to the WTB TUHAKARAINE and scored a try at the left corner of the goal post.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 3-7.

20 minutes into the first half:

The game became a bit of a stalemate, and both teams kicked each other. After several exchanges of kicks, Spears FB WILLIAMS kicked a kick from his own line that went right over the enemy 22-meter line. The crowd cheered for WILLIAMS.

25 minutes into the first half:

The Spears were in control of the ball after entering the enemy territory and were not giving it away. Deep in the enemy territory, SO KISIOKA had the ball and threw a long pass to WTB NEZUKA on the right edge, who caught it, dragged two opposing defenders and scored a try right in the middle of the enemy’s in-goal. NEZUKA has been developing their strength in contact compared to last season.

The conversion goal after the try failed, and the score was 8-7.

32 minutes into the first half:

The Chiefs gradually advanced into the enemy territory, with a series of phases. The Chiefs’ FWs attacked the enemy in-goal and prop PROFFIT scored a try right under the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 8-14.

39 minutes into the first half:

Towards the end of the first half, the Spears were pinned down in their own territory several times, but they pushed back and managed to push the ball into the opposition’s territory. However, the Chiefs were able to get out of their own half, and SH RATIMA made a big move to the left side of the field, carried the ball, and ran it into the middle of the enemy’s in-goal on the right side for a try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 8-21.

The first half ended with the Chiefs taking a 14-point lead.

Now, can the Spears push back the Chiefs in the second half? A change of mindset is required.

7 minutes into the second half:

Spears, who had led by 13 points in the first half, made progress into the enemy territory at the beginning of the second half. YAMAZAKI caught the ball and scored a try in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal.

7 minutes into the second half:

Spears, who had lost 13 points in the first half, made progress into the enemy territory at the beginning of the second half. A foul by the Chiefs gave the Spears a lineout on their own ball on the left side near the enemy 22m line, which they used as a starting point to expand to the right. SO KISHIOKA of the Spears threw a long pass, and right WTB YAMAZAKI caught it and scored a try in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal.

The conversion goal after the try failed, and the score was 13-21.

13 minutes into the second half:

Spears entered the enemy territory and gradually advanced deep into enemy territory with FW players making strong contact with their opponents. The Chiefs committed an infringement and Spears elected to go for the PG, which was right in front of the goal post, about 15 meters away. Spears’ CTB VAILEA scored on the PG to make the score 16-21.

17 minutes into the second half:

Of the two Super Rugby teams that came to Japan this time, the Blues, who played the previous week, played a hard contact game around dense areas, which is a weak point of the Japanese team, Sungoliath, while the Chiefs played a set play, developed, and repeated a series of attacks, a type of play often seen in the League One.

In this period, the Chiefs took a penalty kick deep into enemy territory after a foul by the opposing team, secured the ball in their own lineout, and mauled their way forward to score a try by hooker SLATER in the middle left of the enemy in-goal.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 16-28.

20 minutes into the second half:

Spears, looking for a way to hold on, secured the ball from the restart kickoff, and from there they deployed a series of attacks to advance deep into the enemy territory. After an infringement by their opponents, Spears secured the ball from their own lineout on the left side inside the enemy 22m line, formed a maul and pushed forward, and as the enemy in-goal approached, replacement prop SAIDA scored a try in the left middle.

Spears also scored a successful conversion goal after the try, making the score 23-28.

24 minutes into the second half:

From the restart kickoff, the Chiefs entered enemy territory and, working as a team, made a series of off-load passes to connect the ball, despite being tackled, to advance and score a try just under the enemy goal posts. The try was scored by Chiefs Rock BAR. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 23-35.

The score was 23-35, and the crowd was thrilled by a series of offload passes that showed the power of NZ.

36 minutes into the second half:

This match was treated as an open game, so the number of substitutions was 13. Chasing a 12-goal deficit, the Spears pushed forward from their own half, moving deeper and deeper into the enemy territory. Finally, the Spears made a big move from the left side to the right side and connected with the ball, and right WTB YAMAZAKI scored a try from the right edge of the field, right in the middle of the enemy in-goal.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 35-30. The final, beautiful ball connection to the right was a crowd-pleaser.

The score was no side, and the Spears kept their reputation as last season’s League One champions as they played a close game. If I had my way, I would have liked to see Spears win their final Cross Border Rugby match to bring their record to two wins and two losses versus Super Rugby.

** Jersey Collection 74 **

Once I have finished showing you all the jersey collections I have on hand, since I have acquired several jerseys around the RWC 2023 in France, I would like to introduce some jerseys

RWC2023 commemorative windbreaker. Not for sale; this item will be distributed to those who purchase the RWC2023 hospitality package. We purchased this item on Mercari. Immediately after the convention, it was priced at 8,000 to 10,000 yen, which was a very aggressive price, but this product was sold in large numbers, so now the price is around 3,000 yen. Functionally, this is a product for spring and fall, as it has low thermal protection.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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