RUGBY JERSEY – League One Playoffs and Replacement Round Outlook

 (Written by Azul: May 17, 2024)

The Japan Rugby League One has finished its regular season games and entered the post-season from May 18.

Each team will play two more games to win the league championship, remain in Division One, or be promoted to the next level.

The scheduled matches are as follows

League One Division 1 playoffs:

5/18 – Semifinal 1: PanasonicWild Knights vs Canon Eagles

5/19 – Semifinal 2: Toshiba Brave Lupas vs Suntory Sungoliath

(Venue for both Semifinals 1 and 2 will be Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground, Tokyo)


5/25 – 3rd place match (Venue: Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground)

5/26 – Final match (Venue: National Stadium)

The matches will be played on the above schedule.

My predictions for the two semifinal matches are as follows

** Semifinal Game 1: Wild Knights vs Canon Eagles**.

Wild Knights’ dominance is unassailable. They have played two games during the season and the results are,

December 10, 2023: Wild Knights 53-Eagles 12 

May 4, 2024: Eagles 14- Wild Knights 43

The Wild Knights won all of these games. In addition,

The Eagles have never defeated the Wild Knights, dating back to the Top League era, and are currently on a 15-game losing streak.

However, the Eagles players know they are at a disadvantage and are ready to challenge the Wild Knights, and Eagles HC Sawaki will be showing some special plays for this match.

Will the Eagles be able to create a stir, or will the Wild Knights have a solid showing and make it to the finals again this year?


** Semifinal Game 2: TOSHIBA Brave Lupas vs SUNTORY Sungoliath **

In the semifinals of the playoffs, another Fuchu derby was played. Since there are two strong teams in the same district, these two teams often meet at league milestones.

The results of this season’s matchups wee as follows

December 17, 2023: SUNTORY 19-TOSHIBA 26

April 27, 2024: TOSHIBA 36-SUNTORY 27

In both games, TOSHIBA Brave Lupas won, but the content was close.

Frankly, the second semifinal match could have gone either way; Sungoliath has a strong group of players, and they have yet to show their strength to this point. I feel that they are hiding their tactics for the playoffs.

However, Brave Lupas, with Riccie M’OUNGA, the best SO in the world, is getting stronger with each game this season.

We are looking forward to seeing how the serious Sungoliath team and the Brave Lupas team, which is in great form, will battle.

By the way, here are the prospects for the replacement matches.

The matchups for this season’s replacement round are as follows.

  • RICOH Black Rams vs NEC Green Rockets
  • HONDA Heat vs Shuttles AICHI
  • KINTETSU Riners vs URAYASU D-Rocks

The winner will be decided by playing two games at Home & AWAY.

The replacement matches will be as follows

1) Division 1 10th vs Division 2 3rd

2) Division 1 11th vs Division 2 2nd

3) Division 1 12th vs Division 2 1st

The 10th-ranked team in Division 1 (= Black Rams) and the 1st-ranked team in Division 2 (= Urayasu D-Rocks) seem to have the advantage, but in the past, there have been many cases of upset in the replacement rounds.

  • RICOH Black Rams vs NEC Green Rockets

The Green Rockets have played in the replacement round every year since becoming a League One team. Last season, many players were in tears after losing. They will be looking forward to the matchup with the Black Rams.

On the other hand, the Black Rams have few players who have experienced a relegation match, so the important thing for them is the mental aspect of the match.

If the Black Rams can show their usual ability, they can be expected to win the match.

  • HONDA Heat vs Shuttles AICHI

Both teams have experienced the replacement round last season, and in the case of HONDA Heat, their powerful FW was also effective in Division 1. In a head-to-head matchup, the Shuttles would have the edge over the Heat because their FW is a step stronger than any of the teams they have played in Division 2.

However, the Shuttles should have a special play like the one they showed in the elimination match, so the match will be interesting to see how far they can go.

  • KINTETSU Riners vs URAYASU D-Rocks

D-Rocks came into this matchup as the top-ranked team in Division 2 last season, but lost to the Riners, the lowest-ranked team in Division 1, after losing all of their matches. For the D-Rocks, this was a reminder of how high the barriers are in Division 1.

In a sense, the D-Rocks may have an easier time in this year’s replacement round because they are playing against the same opponents.

However, the Riners, who were almost completely outclassed in Division 1 this season, have continued to put up a good fight this season and have managed to pick up winning points in several Division 1 matches, showing a clear improvement in their abilities.

We expect them to play the most exciting games among the three replacement matches.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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