RUGBY JERSEY – League One Section 9 – Wild Knights vs Brave Lupas

 (Written by Azul: March 26, 2024)

For the Japan Rugby League One’s 9th match, I went to Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, on March 9. This is the second time this season that I have been to this stadium. This time, the matchup was a battle for the top spot between the Wild Knights, who are in first place in League One, and Brave Lupas, who are in second place. Both teams were undefeated so far going into this matchup.

I walked from Kumagaya station to the stadium with many supporters wearing red jerseys, the team color of Brave Lupas.

The temperature was a little low, but the weather was fine and it was a perfect day to watch the rugby match.

This week, LEAGUE ONE reached the ninth round, and each team has only eight games left to play. Let’s check out the standings so far.

2023-24League One Order(Division 1) 3/8 
1Saitama Wildnights80038281
2Tokyo Brave Lupas80037113
3Tokyo Sungoliath62029109
4Kobe Steelers5302499
5Yokohama Eagles5302327
6Kubota Spears4402177
7Toyota Verblitz4401932
8Sagamihara Dynaboars44018-58
9Shizuoka Blue Revs3501636
10Black Rams Tokyo1707-104
11Hanazono Riners0801-243
12Mie Honda Heat0800-369
WP=Winning Point
GD=Goal Difference

The top four teams advance to the playoffs, but with only five points separating them from fourth to seventh place, the standings change every week. For these four teams, they cannot afford to lose any of their games.

And the game on this day will be a clash of the pride of both teams, who absolutely cannot afford to lose.

Let me introduce the two teams that will face each other.

First, let’s take a look at the provisional leader, the Saitama Wild Knights.

Wild Knights’ traditional style of play is to defend hard and attack fast, and they are ranked first in the league every year in terms of fewest goals conceded, and this season, they are also ranked first in the league in points scored. The Wild Knights lost in the finals of the playoffs last season and ended up as the runner-up. The matchups after the next round are as follows

3/16 vs. Kobe Steelers (4th place)

3/22 VS Kubota Spears (6th place)

4/6 VS Sagamihara Dynaboars (8th)

4/12 VS Black Rams Tokyo (10th place)

4/20 VS Toyota Verblitz (7th place)

4/27 VS Hanazono Kintetsu Riners (12th place)

5/4 VS Yokohama Canon Eagles (5th)

Even though the Wild Knights are in first place, a back-to-back loss would put them out of the playoffs. The Wild Knights have won many close games so far, so they will need to be more determined and win one game at a time in the games to come.

Today’s starting lineup is as follows

Panasonic Wild Nights
1Craig Miller186cm116kg33Japan 17cap
2Atsushi Sakade180cm104kg30Japan 41cap
3Taiki Fujii183cm114kg25 
4Liam Mitchell197cm117kg28 
5Lood De JAGER206cm127kg30Soth Africa 65cap
6Ryota HASEGAWA188cm100kg30Japan
7Lachlan BOSHIER191cm110kg29 
8Jack CORNELSEN195cm110kg29Japan 20cap
9Taiki Koyama171cm74kg29Japan
10Rikiya Matsuda181cm92kg29Japan 37cap
11Tatsuhiro TANJI184cm91kg27 
12Damian De ALLENDE190cm105kg32Soth Africa 78cap
13Dylan RILEY187cm102kg26Japan 18cap
14Tomoki OSADA179cm90kg24Japan 7cap
15Kyohei YAMASAWA176cm84kg25

**Player to watch **

Kyohei YAMASAWA. 176cm, 84kg, 25 years old. Position = FB, SO. He plays with his brother Takuya in the Wild Knights, and they also play the same position. Since his days at Meiji University, he has been a driving force in student rugby and has shown great promise for the future. With his solid tactical eye in the game and his ability to break through against the opposition, he is becoming a regular member of the Wild Knights.

Next, I would like to introduce Tokyo Brave Lupas, the visitor team of the day.

As of 3/8, Brave Lupas is ranked 2nd in LEAGUE ONE. The team’s style of play is based on the strength of contact play, especially by the FW players. The team’s goal is to always be dominant in set plays and in the battle for the ball at breakdowns during matches. This season, they have further developed their strength in continuous attacks with SO MOUNGA at the center, using the ground wide when they attack in the BK.

The remaining matches of this season are as follows.

3/17 VS SAGAMIHARA Dynaboars(8th place)

3/24 VS Black Rams Tokyo (10th place)

4/7 VS Kubota Spears(6th)

4/14 VS KOBE Steelers (4th place)

4/21 VS Mie HONDA Heat (12th place)

4/27 VS Tokyo Sungoliath (2nd place)

5/5 VS Shizuoka Blue Revs (9th place)

Brave Lupas’ goal this season is to win the championship for the first time since the 2009-2010 season. In order to win the championship, they will have to beat the No. 1 ranked Wild Knights, so what will happen today?

Today’s starting lineup is as follows.

TOSHIBA Brave Lupas
1Teruo Makabe172cm110kg27 
2Mamoru HARADA175cm101kg24 
3Yuta KOKAJI176cm109kg25 
4Warner Dearns202cm123kg21Japan 11caps
5Samuera ANISE198cm118kg37Japan 12caps
6Shohei ITO190cm105kg26 
7Yoshitaka TOKUNAGA185cm100kg31Japan 15caps
8Shannon FRIZELL195cm114kg29New Zealand  33caps
9Yuhei Sugiyama169cm76kg26 
10Richie MO’UNGA176cm83kg29New Zealand  44caps
11Yuto MORI174cm82kg25 
12Michael COLLINS187cm94kg30 
13Seta TAMANIVALU189cm104kg32NZ3cap,Fiji 3cap
14Atsuki KUWAYAMA184cm90kg26 
15Takuro MATSUNAGA172cm82kg25 

** Player to watch **.

Atski KUWAYAMA is 26 years old, 183 cm, 92 kg. He is the younger brother of the KUWAYAMA brothers, who play as siblings in Brave Lupas. He has become a regular player. He has the decisive power to score the necessary points as a WTB, and we hope he will win the League One Try King title.

Let’s get the first half underway.

1st minute of the first half:

SO MOUNGA of Brave Lupas kicked off to start the game. It was quite windy on the day of the match, and Wild Knights were downwind in the first half. Wild Knights’ SO MATSUDA was aware of the strong wind and kicked the ball with a low trajectory. Mounga, using passing dummies and clever feints, got behind the Wild Knights’ defense and ran into the middle of the enemy in-goal on the left side for the first try. The crowd cheered loudly for this big play.

And SO MOUNGA of Brave Lupas scored the conversion goal himself to make the score 0-7.

7 minutes into the first half:

Brave Lupas did well to hold them off, but the Wild Knights moved up to the goal posts, where FL BOSHIER scored a try to the left of the posts.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful and the score was tied 7-7.

14 minutes into the first half:

Wild Knights had several chances to attack deep into the enemy territory, but the strong defense in front of the goal by Brave Lupas’ FW made it difficult for them to make an in-goal attempt. Hence, on several opponents’ penalties, they opted for a PG, which was scored by SO MATSUDA to make the score 10-7.

18 minutes into the first half:

Both teams had strong defense in front of the goal, and it was difficult to score a try. Brave Lupas pushed deep into enemy territory and drew a foul on their opponents, where SO MOUNGA converted a PG. The score was tied 10-10.

The Wild Knights showed their skill in the game and drew their opponents into foul play, scoring three PGs in the 23rd, 28th, and 31st minutes of the first half to make the score 19-10.

The first half ended with Wild Knights leading by 9 points.

The defense in front of the goal by both teams was strong, and there were few opportunities for tries. However, Wild Knights took advantage of a tight battle after entering enemy territory and created many PG opportunities, which SO MATSUDA converted to give them the lead at the end of the first half. As usual, Wild Knights played a solid game, but can Brave Lupas turn the tide in the second half?

Let’s get the second half underway.

5 minutes into the second half:

It was Wild Knights who scored first in the second half.

After the kickoff, the Wild Knights advanced deep into enemy territory, and from there, with a rush by their FW and CTB De ALLENDE, they closed in on the enemy in-goal. From there, SH KOYAMA passed the ball to WTB OSADA on the right side of the field, and finally OSADA scored a try in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal.

The conversion goal after the try failed, making the score 24-10.

10 minutes into the second half:

SO MATSUDA rolled the ball over and SO MOUNGA of Brave Lupas missed the catch and the ball rolled into the in-goal. FB Yamasawa of the Wild Knights held up the ball and scored a try.

The conversion goal after the try was missed.

26 minutes into the second half:

Brave Lupas’ FW switched on at this time, and their powerful FW players made a series of frontal breakthroughs to advance the ball forward. With 5 meters to the goalposts, Brave Lupas lock Deans burst past two defenders and scored a try right under the posts.

The conversion goal was also successful, making the score 29-17.

30 minutes into the second half:

Brave Lupas’ FWs used their strengths to make continuous head-on contact, breaking down the enemy defenders and making progress, and when the enemy in-goal was close, Brave Lupas made further progress, moving off to the right, and finally prop LATU, who came on as a substitute, scored a try in the enemy’s in-goal, in the left center of the field.

Brave Lupas scored back-to-back tries in the second half to finally pull within five points of the Wild Knights.

39 minutes into the second half:

With only a few minutes left in the second half, the Wild Knights looked to be in a position to win the game, and they launched a wave attack in the enemy territory, mainly through their front line. The Wild Knights worked as a team to make progress in a tight battle, and came close to the enemy’s in-goal. The Wild Knights came out of the densely-packed battle to the right, and when the ball was passed to substitute lock ABOTT, he dove just under the goal posts in the enemy in-goal where the defense was thinning to score a try.

The try, scored with less than a minute remaining, sealed the victory for the Wild Knights. The game ended when the Wild Knights used up all the remaining time to score the conversion goal.

The final score was 36-24.

This was the ninth straight win for the Wild Knights, who are now undefeated this season. They are in second place after their first loss to Brave Lupas. With seven games remaining in the season, who will be able to stop the Wild Knights’ winning streak?


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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