RUGBY JERSEY – League One Section 13: Shizuoka Blue Revs vs KUBOTA Spears

 (Written by Azul: April 25, 2024)

The Japan Rugby League One is now in its final stages. On April 12, I went to Shimizu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, home of the Blue Revs, to watch the match between the Blue Revs and the Spears.

The distance from Hachioji City, Tokyo, where I live, to Shimizu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, where the game was held, is about 160 km away.

It takes about 2 hours to get there by Shinkansen bullet train, but since it was my first visit to the venue, I took the JR local train to get there. We left at 8:00 a.m. and it took us about 4 hours.

When I have time to spare, I enjoy this kind of trip. I got off at Shimizu station.

Shimizu City in Shizuoka Prefecture is famous for soccer. Shimizu is known throughout Japan as a city where soccer is popular. As an urban legend, it is said that even a middle-aged woman living in this city can lift a soccer ball more than 100 times. I have no soccer experience, so I can only do 50 times.

A signboard of the local soccer team, Shimizu S-Pulse, was posted at the station ticket gate. The S-Pulse symbol was also displayed on the station stairs.

The venue for today’s game was IAI Stadium, the home of the Shimizu S-Pulse soccer team.

The Blue Revs play in Shimizu once a year. In terms of frequency of games, the Blue Revs have played 6 games this season at the YAMAHA Stadium in Iwata City.

Then, I have arrived at the stadium. The official name of the stadium is IAI Stadium Nihondaira. The capacity of the stadium is 20,248, which is the same size as the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium. The temperature that day was around 22 degrees Celsius, which was reminiscent of early summer. With such warm weather, you can already wear short sleeves.

On this day, Orange Wave, the official cheerleaders of Shimizu S-Pulse, were cheering for the Blue Revs, the home team. Originally, their cheer uniform is orange, the same color as the S-Pulse’s, but since the Blue Revs’ uniform is blue, they wore blue T-shirts and cheered for them only on this day. Also, the cheerleaders could not wear orange uniforms on this day because the color of the uniform of Spears, the Visitor Team of the day, is orange.

Let’s check the standings of League One Division 1 as of April 12.

2023-24League One Order(Division 1) 4/12 
1Saitama Wildnights130061401
2Tokyo Brave Lupas111050132
3Yokohama Eagles9404381
4Tokyo Sungoliath93043137
5Kobe Steelers75034152
6Shizuoka Blue Revs6602971
7Toyota Verblitz6602936
8Kubota Spears5702741
9Sagamihara Dynaboars57022-145
10Black Rams Tokyo211013-151
11Mie Honda Heat11105-412
12Hanazono Riners01302-343
WP=Winning Point
GD=Goal Difference
Division 2

Blue Revs, the team they would be playing on this day, was currently in 6th place. The Revs have won three straight games.

Spears, on the other hand, was currently in 8th place.

Both teams still have a chance to finish in the top 4, which is a requirement to advance to the playoffs. Because of the close rankings of the two opponents, the game on this day would likely to be a cross game.

Here is the latest information on both teams that would play on this day.

First, let’s talk about the home team, SHIZUOKA Blue Revs.

SHIZUOKA Blue Revs was founded in 1982. They have won one Japanese championship (2015). The team’s style of play is characterized by strength in set play, especially in the scrum. The Blue Revs were the only team to defeat the top-ranked Wild Knights in the league last season. The Revs do not have a large pool of national team players or college stars, but rather develop players found by scouts to strengthen their team. The team rarely loses by large margins, and they are always close until the end of the game, making them a team worth rooting for.

Early this season, Kwagga SMITH, the mainstay of the team and the No. 8 player for South Africa, was out for a long time due to injury. However, since the second half of the season, the team has been winning a lot of games and has improved to the point where they can aim for the top again. It will be interesting to see if they can win this match again and make it four wins in a row.

The starting lineup for this day’s match is as follows.

Shizuoka Blue Revs
1Takayoshi SHIGEHARA187cm116kg24 
2Takeshi HINO172cm100kg34Japan 5caps
3Heiichiro ITO175cm115kg33 
4Eisin KUWANO193cm112kg29 
5Murray DOUGLAS198cm115kg34 
6Yuya Odo187cm104kg34Japan 5caps
7Takuma SHOJI182cm100kg25 
8Malgene ILAUA187cm107kg30Japan 7cap
9Bryn HALL183cm93kg32 
10Kakeru OKUMURA180cm83kg25 
11Malo TUITAMA182cm91kg27 
12Sylvian MAHUZA179cm82kg30 
13Charles PIUTAU186cm95kg32NZ17caps, Tonga 1cap
14Keagen FARIA183cm85kg29 
15Futo YAMAGUCHI167cm76kg24 

** Player to watch **

Charles PIUTAU. 186 cm, 95 kg, 32 years old. He represented Tonga at RWC2023 and is the most experienced Blue Revs player who has played for his country. He is a breakthrough player for opposing defenses and makes his presence felt in attack. Currently, WTB TUITAMA of the same team is ranked first in the League One try ranking, but CTB PIUTAU’s contribution to the team’s chances is significant. Also, in defense, their hard work with their strong physical strength shines through.

Next, an update on the visiting team, KUBOTA Spears.

As last season’s League One champions, they are in eighth place with a record of 5 wins-7 loses, which is a disappointing result, but they still had a chance to advance to the playoffs at this point, so they would give their all in their remaining four games. They have not suffered any major defeats so far, except for the loss to the top-ranked Wild Knights. All of the losses were close games. Therefore, in the remaining four games, the team will need to be able to win close games.

This day’s starting lineup was as follows.

1Kota KAISHI172cm102kg29 
2Dane COLES184cm110kg36New Zealand 90 cap
3Opeti HELU190cm127kg25 
4Ruan BOTHA205cm120kg33 
5David BULBRING199cm113kg34 
6Peter L. LABUSCHAGNE189cm106kg35Japan 19cap
7Takeo SUENAGA178cm98kg29 
8Faulua MAKISI182cm117kg27Japan 5cap
9Shinobu FUJIWARA171cm76kg25 
10Bernard FOLEY182cm89kg34Australia 71cap
11Kim SURYUNG186cm90kg26 
12Harumichi TATEKAWA180cm93kg34Japan 56cap
13Sione TEAUPA183cm97kg31Japan 3cap
14Koga Nezuka173cm82kg25Japan 1cap
15Yuhei SHIMADA183cm87kg26 

** Player to watch **

Rikus PRETORIUS. 193 cm, 104 kg, 25 years old. Position = CTB. born in South Africa. joined Spears in 2022. He started the game as a reserve, but is expected to be an impact player from the second half. He is a huge CTB, over 190 cm tall, and is the nucleus of the attack and a breakthrough player for the opposing defense. One of the characteristics of this player is his inexhaustible stamina, which does not wane even in the late stages of the game. He made his debut in the 6th match of this season against the Black Rams, and has been an unwavering regular ever since.

Let’s begin the first half of the match.

From the start of the match, both sides attacked deep into enemy territory, creating several opportunities to score, but failed to score.

12 minutes into the first half:

It was Spears who scored first.

After attacking in front of the enemy 22m line, Lock BOTHA slipped behind the enemy defensive net, advanced forward, and from there, developed to the left, connecting a pass from Hooker COLES to CTB TATEKAWA, where TATEKAWA scored a try in the middle of the enemy in-goal on the left side.

The conversion goal after the try failed, and the score was 0-5.

15 minutes into the first half:

Spears tried a series of attacks, starting with a scrum from their own line. Although the ball was not deployed with fluent connections, Spears’ FW players picked up the ball down the field many times and made steady progress. The Blue Revs did not take the ball away from them, and the FW and BK connected the ball in unison, and finally, CTB SIONE scored a try in the left center.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 0-12.

17 minutes into the first half:

From the restart kick-off after the try, Spears Lock BOTHA got past the Blue Revs defense and advanced all the way to the 10-meter mark in the enemy territory. From there, Spears’ players followed up with a series of follow-ups, and finally SO FOLEY scored a try right under the goal post in the enemy’s in-goal. During this time, the whistle was not blown and it was a no-whistle try.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 0-19.

The score was 0-19, a rare one-sided game for the Blur Revs, who never give up until the very end.

21 minutes into the first half:

From the restart after the try, Spears had a lineout on their own right side. From there, Spears made a long throw and CTB TATEKAWA to WTB NEZUKA, who broke the line at top speed, cut through the Blue Revs’ defensive line, and quickly approached the enemy’s in-goal. SH FUJIWARA of Spears followed and scored a try right under the goal post of the enemy’s in-goal.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 0-26, and the Spears’ attack was so one-sided and dominant that it was almost too much to handle. Before the game started, I too did not expect it to be so one-sided.

28 minutes into the first half:

From the restart kickoff, Blue Revs went into the enemy 22m line area and got a scrum of their own ball. From here, Blue Revs CTB MAFUZA rolled a light golo punt towards the enemy in-goal, which CTB PIUTAU held in-goal to score Blue Revs’ first points of the match.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 7-26.

31 minutes into the first half:

With the earlier try, the Blue Revs came to life and moved forward in a series of attacks, deep in enemy territory. However, the ball rolled underneath and SH FUJIWARA of Spears picked it up, and from deep in their own territory, they moved forward at once into the enemy territory. FB SHIMADA followed FUJIWARA, received the ball, and ran through to the left center of the enemy’s in-goal for a try.

The conversion goal after the try failed, but the score was 7-31.

The first half ended with this score. Can the Blue Revs recover from this big deficit? The loser of this match will be in the playoff contention.

Now, let’s start the second half.

Blue Revs had lost too many points in the first half, so they introduced Sione BUNA as No.8 and OKAZAKI as SH at the start of the second half.

In the first half, there were many scenes where they were easily overtaken around the densely-packed perimeter, so it was thought that they have taken countermeasures against that.

9 minutes into the second half:

The Blue Revs advanced their position to the enemy 22m line and got a scrum on their own ball. The Blue Revs pushed forward with a scrum, and then moved to the right, where CTB MAFUZA forced his way through a dense crowd in front of the enemy in-goal to score a try.

The Blue Revs got off to a flying start, scoring the first points of the second half.

18 minutes into the second half:

The Blue Revs, with their momentum on their side, took control of the game and attacked in the enemy territory. CTB PIUTAU brought the ball out of the pack, feinted against the defense, and scored a try in the middle left of the opposition’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, but in the second half, the Blue Revs were mesmerizing, scoring two tries in a row.

During this period, Blue Revs used their strength, the scrum, as a starting point to keep the game close. when Blue Revs scrummed, they first did not let Spears push them around. From there, they drew penalties from their opponents and steadily moved their position forward. The Blue Revs crowd at their home stadium cheered the Blue Revs players on with a chorus of “Go Go Revs.

34 minutes into the second half:

The Blue Revs continued to dominate the game in the second half, but Spears, who could no longer afford to lose a single game in order to advance to the playoffs, held firm and refused to allow any more scores.

Spears, now on the defensive, committed a series of infractions that resulted in one man being temporarily sent off for a scrum infringement and a second man being temporarily sent off for a dangerous neck tackle in defense. At this point, the Spears had to play with 13 players, two fewer than the Blue Revs.

After the game resumed from an opponent’s penalty, Blue Revs took advantage of their numerical superiority to spread the ball wide to the left and right, launching a series of attacks. Finally, the ball was passed to WTB TUITAMA at the left end, and TUITAMA scored a try at the left corner of the enemy’s in-goal.

A difficult conversion goal from the left end was scored by WTB FARIA in fine style, and the score was 26-31 Blue Revs were finally within 5 points.

37 minutes into the second half:

The Blue Revs were closing in on the enemy’s in-goal and were attacking in succession, but Spears picked up the spill and had a chance to attack after a long time. Spears kicked the ball into their own in-goal for a 50-22 lineout, but the Blue Revs grabbed the ball before it could go off the pitch. FB YAMAGUCHI counter-attacked from in front of his own in-goal.

Spears caught FB YAMAGUCHI of Revs near the center of the ground. Here, a tight battle ensued, from which Blue Revs Lock TUPOU, who took over as a substitute, broke away and gained nearly 30 meters, closing in on the enemy’s in-goal.

However, the Blue Revs were fouled for a knock-on here and it was a Spears ball scrum with 2 minutes remaining. If they continue to hold onto the ball until the end of the match, Spears would win.

40 minutes into the second half:

Spears kept the ball in the air from a tight pack, with the FWs continuing to attack on the flanks. At the final horn, the Blue Revs’ FW ran into the crowd and the crowd stopped moving, and the referee called an infringement on Spears.

Finally, the Blue Revs had the right to attack, and from this point, the Blue Revs started their attack with a tap kick, and the two sides dueled across the in-goal. Blue Revs’ Lock TUPOU then made a powerful move to score a try in the in-goal at left midfield. Finally, the score was tied 31-31.

The Blue Revs still had the right to score a conversion goal, which would give them a comeback victory. The kick was positioned in the middle left, a little closer to the goal post, which was a less difficult position.

Blue Revs WTB FARIA took the kick, but his foot got caught on the ball and he missed. It was an unexpected ending, and the game ended in a draw between the two sides.

The photo above shows the Blue Revs players consoling FARIA, who was nodding off after missing the final goal.

We would like to thank the players of both teams for a great and passionate game.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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