RUGBY JERSEY – Test Match England vs Japan

 (Written by Azul: July 3, 2024)

6 months have passed since the conclusion of the RWC 2023 and rugby teams around the world have begun to prepare for the next RWC 2027.

Japan’s national rugby team began a series of test matches against world powers this past week.

The schedule for the national team this season is as follows. The team is scheduled to play 12 matches in the next six months until November.

 DateOpponentmatch venueResult
26/29Maori All BlacksTokyo 
37/6Maori All BlacksToyoda 
89/14 or 15(Pacific Nations Cup Semi Final)Tokyo 
99/21(Pacific Nations Cup Final or 3rd Place Game)Osaka 
1010/26All BlacksTokyo 

The challenges for not only the Japanese national team but also the teams of other countries are to replace old and new members of the team, and to discover and develop young players.

Eddie Jones, who served as the head coach of Japan from 2011 to 2015, was appointed as the head coach of the new Japan national team this season, and was the Japan’s head coach at the RWC 2015, which was the biggest upset in the history of sports at the time, Japan’s victory against South Africa. He was the HC of Japan in what was then considered the biggest upset in the history of the sport. He was reappointed HC of Japan in 2024.

Jones is a world-class general who has served as head coach not only of the Japan national team, but also of the Australia and England national teams. How he will strengthen the Japan national team over the next four years is the focus and expectation of rugby fans all over Japan.

The first match of the national team’s Test Match Series was held on June 22, 2024, at the National Stadium in Shibuya, Tokyo. The start time of the match was 14:50.

The seats I reserved on the day were the cheapest Category 4 seats, but they were on the second floor behind the goal, and the price was 5,000 yen. However, they were reserved seats, so even though I arrived at the stadium just before the game, I was able to be seated with plenty of time to spare.

Let me introduce the two teams that played that day.

First, let me introduce the England team, the Visitor Tam.

The England national team, the birthplace of rugby, is a strong team from the northern hemisphere that won the RWC 2003 and came in third in the RWC 2023.

In the past, the Japanese national team has lost all 11 matches it has played against England.

The basic tactic of the English national team has traditionally been to use the Up and Under tactic, which is to high punt the ball up, put pressure on the opponent who is trying to catch the ball, re-gain the ball, and attack again. This tactic is more effective against teams that are less physical than England.

It will be interesting to see how the Japanese national team will fare against the traditional English team.

This day’s starting lineup was as follows.

1Bevan RODD183cm118kg236
2Jamie GEORGE178cm113kg3370
3Dan COLE190cm123kg37105
4Maro ITOJE195cm115kg2857
5George MARTIN198cm118kg2310
6Chandler CUNNINGUM-SOUTH193cm120kg246
7Sam UNDERHILL186cm103kg2723
8Ben EARL183cm107kg2626
9Alex MITCHELL178cm89kg2713
10Marcus SMITH170cm82kg2533
11Tommy FREEMAN188cm92kg239
12Ollie LAWRENCE180cm101kg2422
13Henry SLADE191cm96kg3135
14Immanuel FEYI-WABOSO180cm94kg215
15George FURBANK182cm92kg2710

After this match, the England team will travel to New Zealand to play two test matches against the All Blacks, the national team of New Zealand.

** Player to watch **

Marcus Smith. 170 cm, 82 kg, 25 years old. Position = SO, FB, a player Eddie Jones used heavily when he was the head coach of the England national team. He is an Asian Englishman from the Philippines. He plays the traditional up-and-under tactics of the English national team, but his real strength lies in his ability to find the opposing team’s flaws and make a run play. He is a player with a wide vision, so the back three of the Japanese team will have to be careful.

Next, I would like to introduce the home team, the Japan National Team.

The national team is a new team and is currently undergoing a transition from old to new. The average age of the team is significantly younger, and university student players have been prominently selected. the team’s tactical concept, advocated by Head Coach Eddie Jones, is described in terms of “super-fast rugby.

* Teams ranked higher than Japan in the world rankings are naturally stronger than Japan in terms of physicality. To compensate for this power difference, the entire team will increase the speed of their decision making and counter the power difference with speed.

Basically, the above concept will be the basis of Japan’s national team from this season onward. However, it will take time for these team tactics to mature. If the team continues to lose too many matches, it will be necessary to make changes in the course of the game. In professional sports, results are everything.

The starting lineup for this match was as follows

Brave Blossoms
No.NameheightweightageJapan Caps
1Takayoshi MOBARA188cm125kg241
2Mamoru HARADA175cm101kg251
3Shuhei TAKEUCHI183cm115kg264
4Sanaila WAQA202cm120kg283
5Warner DEARNS201m117kg2212
6Michael LEITCH190cm105kg3585
7Tiennan COSTLEY191cm100kg241
8Faulua MAKISI186cm108kg276
9Naoto SAITO165cm75kg2620
10Seungsin LEE176cm88kg2312
11Koga NAZUKA173cm82kg252
12Tomoki OSADA179cm90kg248
13Samisoni TUA182cm108kg281
14Jone NAIKABULA177cm95kg309
15Yoshitaka YAZAKI180cm85kg201

** Player to watch **

Yoshitaka YAZAKI is 20 years old, 180 cm, 85 kg. Position=FB.He is a sophomore at Waseda University. He participated in the national team selection camp as a trainee, and was selected as a starter for the test match against England after HC Eddie Jones recognized his potential. He has been selected for all the national teams in his age group, and now he will make his debut for the full national team. He is young and still developing, so his physique is not yet complete, and he is sometimes vulnerable in contact, but his outstanding speed is what makes him stand out. His acceleration speed is so fast that there are times when other players cannot keep up with him. It is expected that he will grow within the national team in the future.

Now, let the games begin.

The attendance for the day was 44,029.

Just before kickoff, the sky, which had been cloudy until then, was suddenly filled with the summer sun. The temperature that day was 30 degrees Celsius, a harsh heat for the players actually playing.

2 minutes into the first half:

The game started with the kickoff by the Japanese national team. The ball was kicked deep into enemy territory by the Japan team, and from there, the Japan team caught a lineout of their own ball and expanded to the right. When the Japan team made contact, the England team committed a foul by falling down. The Japan team opted to go for the PG, as they were almost in front of the goal posts.

LEE, the Japan team’s SO, scored the PG to make the score 3-0.

14 minutes into the first half:

At this point, the Japan team had about 75% control of the ball, and was developing a dominant attacking position. The Japan team was also very consistent in their own ball scrums, lineouts, and maul defense.

The England team tried to advance with a maul once they were in enemy territory, but when this was blocked, they switched to a persistent attack on the dense side of the ruck, gradually closing in on the enemy’s in-goal. Then, FL CUNNINGUM-SOUTH scored a try in the right center of the enemy’s in-goal.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 3-7, England team took the lead.

24 minutes into the first half:

After a series of attacks, the Japan team crossed the 10-meter line and were caught by the opposing team’s defense, where they were penalized. The England team, from a lineout on their own ball, used sign play to get behind their opponents’ defenders. SO Smith of the England team ran in, got the ball, and drove forward more than 30 meters to score a try right under the enemy goal posts.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 3-14.

29 minutes into the first half:

The Japanese team was attacked by the English team in their own half, and SO LEE kicked the ball back deep into enemy territory. The ball was kicked back by England’s SO SMITH, but it bounced out beyond the 22-meter line, resulting in a 50-22 rule and a lineout for England. Again, the Japanese team was in trouble.

This was because the Japan team had no one to defend in this space, which was a shortcoming of a hastily built team.

From this position, the England team again attacked on the flanks in a tight formation, and came close to scoring in-goal. Finally, SO Smith received the ball out of the pack and connected with a long pass to WTB FEYI-WABONG for the try.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 3-21.

After the horn sounded to end the first half, the Japanese team tried to continue their attack, but perhaps tired from the first half, a monotonous pass went sideways, and the England defenders got involved, resulting in a turnover. From here, the England team made full use of a series of attacks to score the final try. SO Smith took the opponents by surprise and did a kick pass to the right side, where CTB Slade ran in and made a great catch to score a try in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal.

The conversion goal after the try failed, and the score was 3-26.

The first half ended here.

At the end of the first half, the Japanese team did a good job at set pieces and were more than evenly matched, but their key attack was not able to score as they made a series of mistakes in front of the in-goal. In contrast, the English team scored at every opportunity once they crossed the 22-meter line. The difference in decisiveness between the two teams was too obvious. Will the Japanese team be able to correct their attack in the second half and get back in the game?

Let’s begin the second half.

3 minutes into the second half:

England kicked off the second half. Japan’s set pieces are as steady as ever, but they still couldn’t stop the England team from advancing when they get into a tight corner.

The England team came close to scoring a try when SH MITCHELL ran in from the side of the pack and scored just under the goal posts.

The conversion goal was also successful, making the score 3-33.

9 minutes into the second half:

At this point in the game, the Japan team was making almost no headway in attack. Instead of the whole-team development attacks seen at the beginning of the match, the Japan team began to settle for one-shot attacks.

In contrast, the England team was able to exploit the opponents’ infringements, and once they were deep in the enemy territory, they attacked persistently on the crowded flanks. The England team was able to get at least 1m advance after being tackled from each player.And when they found a weak point, they were determined to attack it.

Finally, England’s No. 8 EARL scored a try in the right center of the enemy’s in-goal.

The conversion goal after the try failed, but the score was 3-38.

18 minutes into the second half:

With just over 20 minutes remaining in the match, both teams made a series of player changes. The England team’s relentless flanking attack in the tight quarters left the Japan team helpless, and the players seemed to be gradually wearing down. The England team then moved closer to the enemy’s in-goal, and after a series of side attacks, substitute SH Randall scored a try in the right center.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was finally 3-45.

26 minutes into the second half:

Both teams continued to play in temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius, and fatigue was becoming noticeable. During this time, player changes were made and the newly introduced players were noticeable.

SH FUJIWARA, who came on as a substitute for the Japanese team, showed good energy first, and the Japanese team advanced to about 10 meters from the enemy line with a series of attacks. From a set play, FL YAMAMOTO broke through the England defense and went 5 meters in front of the goalposts. From there, the Japanese team moved to the right, and a long pass by LO DEARNS was reached to WTB NEZUKA, who was waiting in the left corner, and NEZUKA scored a try in the left corner of the enemy’s in-goal.

SO MATSUDA, a substitute, succeeded in scoring the difficult conversion goal from the left corner, making the score 10-45. This was the long-awaited first try for the Japanese team.

29 minutes into the second half:

Toward the end of the match, the time had come for Japan to go on the offensive, with a crowd of over 40,000 people waiting for them. Japan’s SH FUJIWARA led a series of attacks into enemy territory, and when the ball was passed to LO DEARNS, he used his 201cm height and tricky handling to get in front of the English defense. Using his quick feet, he made his way to the goal post, and as the English defense was closing in, he passed the ball to the Japan team’s FB Yamasawa, who followed up and scored a try right under the goal post.

The biggest cheer of the day echoed through the National Stadium. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 17-45.

37 minutes into the second half:

Japan’s maul defense had been strong up to this point, but in the closing minutes of the match, the England team broke through in front of their own in-goal and scored a try. The try was scored by England’s FL Underhill.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 17-52.

The score remained 17-52, and the game went to full time, with England winning the match.

This was the first game for the Japanese national team for the RWC 2027, but they suffered a complete defeat against a strong England team, and the “super-fast Rugby” advocated by HC Eddie JONES is still expected to take time to penetrate the team. However, the set play of the FWs showed progress in this short period of just over a month. This has given me high expectations for Japan’s games in the next week and beyond. I wish Japan’s national team the best of luck for the rematch with England this fall.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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