RUGBY JERSEY – National University Rugby Championship Semi-Final

 (Written by Azul: 22 January, 2024)

The National University Rugby Football Championship for the 2023-2024 season reached its semi-finals on 2 January.

The results of the quarter-finals were as follows.

* University of Tsukuba vs Meiji University: 7-45.

* Tenri University vs Tokai University: 34-14.

* Teikyo University vs Kwansei Gakuin University: 78-15

Kyoto Sangyo University vs Waseda University: 65-28

As a result, the pairings for the University Championship semi-finals were decided as follows

Match 1: Kyoto Sangyo University vs Meiji University

Match 2: Teikyo University vs Tenri University

As for the pairings, the two matches are a Kanto vs Kansai showdown, and all teams have strong FWs, making it an exciting semi-final for fans watching the matches.

The semi-finals and final of the University Championships will be held at the National Stadium in Sendagaya, Tokyo, and the heated matches are expected to be enlivened by the cheering crowds.

Let’s introduce the two teams that will play in the first match.

First, let me introduce the Kyoto Sangyo University Rugby Club.

Kyoto Sangyo University was founded in 1964. It has won the Kansai University League seven times and is currently on a three-year winning streak. The team has produced many national team players such as Daisuke Ohata. The team’s style of play is characterised by FW set-pieces, especially strong scrums. In the past, Kyosan University’s style was to gather nationally unknown high school students, train them hard and challenge traditional schools. However, in recent years, due to their consistent performance in university championships, they have begun to attract players from the Japanese high school national team and are expected to develop in the future.

Today’s starting line-up is as follows.

Kyoto Sangyo University 
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Ryushin SONE175cm103kg21 
2Lee SOONHONG171cm100kg21 
3Shinta KAWAGUCHI186cm120kg21 
4Chuka ISHIBASHI190cm93kg19U-18 JAPAN
5Soromone L.FUNAKI186cm114kg21 
6Ken HIYOSHI180cm100kg21 
7Kosei MIKI174cm95kg21U18 Japan
8Sione POLUTELE184cm110kg20U18 Japan
9Asahi DOEI170cm73kg20U20 Japan, JJ
10Daigo YOSHIMOTO184cm90kg19U18 Japan
11Hiroto NISHI170cm75kg21 
12Rimpei ONO170cm84kg20 
13Ryosei TAKAI176cm82kg22 
14Taiga MATSUOKA170cm77kg22 
15Hayata TSUJINO178cm85kg20 
JJ=Junior Japan

** Player to watch **

Chuka ISHIBASHI. 190 cm, 93 kg, 19 years old. Position = lock. Graduated from Houtoku Gakuen High School. Half Nigerian father, half Japanese mother, U18 Japan, one of the golden generation who toured Ireland this spring and defeated the U19 Ireland national team. After entering Kyoto Sangyo University, he has secured a regular position in the powerful Kyoto Sangyo University FW despite being a first-year student. He is a big, mobile player, as he also won the national championship in high school seven-man rugby.

Next up is the Meiji University Rugby Club.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the club’s founding, and the members are working together to achieve their goal of winning the University Championship. In the Kanto University Rugby Rivalry Group, the team finished second after losing to Teikyo University, but their captain, CTB Yuya HIROSE, who was out due to injury, will return from this match and will be fully fit to face this match. In addition to their traditional strong FW, this season Meiji University have a lot of talent in their BK players, and will be competing on overall strength.

Today’s starting line-up is as follows.

Meiji University 
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Junki TOKODA178cm103kg22 
2Junichiro MATSUSHITA173cm99kg22 
3Keijiro TAMEFUSA180cm110kg22U18 Japan
4Reijiro YAMAMOTO191cm111kg21U18 Japan
5Daichi SATO183cm100kg22 
6Yuta MORIYAMA183cm100kg22 
7Taisei FUKUDA173cm95kg21 
8Taishiro KIDO185m104kg21 
9Shu HAGIHARA173m77kg22 
10Kotaro ITO176cm86kg22 
11Kohaku EBISAWA173cm80kg19 
12Yuya HIROSE179cm94kg22U18 Japan
13Yuta AKIHAMA175cm85kg21 
14Kohei YASUDA183cm88kg20 
15Shotaro IKEDO181cm90kg22 

** Player to watch **.

Yuya HIROSE. 179 cm, 94 kg, 22 years old. He is a graduate of Higashi Fukuoka High School, U18 Japan, and will be taking on the heavy responsibility of captain this season, the 100th anniversary of the school’s founding. Since entering Meiji University, he has been a regular in the team since his first year and has made a name for himself. In matches, he also has responsibility as a placekicker. He was out for a few games before the semi-final due to injury, but will he be able to show his best performance in this match?

Let’s start the first half.

The game started at 12:25.

1st minute of the first half:

Early in the game, Meiji University came into the enemy line and as they tackled, Kyoto Sangyo University’s SO YOSHIMOTO suffered a neck injury and had to be replaced early. The early departure of the main SO is likely to be quite a blow for Kyoto Sangyo University.

5 minutes into the first half:

Meiji University were slightly pushed by Kyoto Sangyo University in the first set piece scrum, but SH HAGIHARA got the ball out and they attacked in succession. Meiji University gradually approached the enemy’s in-goal with a series of attacks to the left and right, and from just in front of the goal posts, FB IKEDO kicked the ball into the in-goal, which was held by WTB EBISAWA for the first try for Meiji University. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 0-5.

9 minutes of the first half:

From the kick-off after the try, Kyoto Sangyo University moved forward with their best set-piece. A scrum drew an infringement from their opponents, and from a PG they secured the ball in their own lineout and moved forward in a maul to put pressure on Meiji University. Kyoto Sangyo University then passed the ball to WTB Nishi, who ran across the maul and scored a try in the left corner of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed. Kyoto Sangyo University easily equalised.

17 minutes into the first half:

Kyoto Sangyo University still had the better of the scrum and maul set-pieces. Kyoto Sangyo University pushed Meiji University in the scrum here, drawing a collapsing infringement, earning the right to a PG and kicking the ball steadily outwards. However, Meiji University’s WTB EBISAWA helped himself to the ball and jumped on the ball as it was about to go off the touchline, making it his own ball. Meiji University attacked in quick succession in the enemy territory, and it was a densely contested battle, but they picked up the ball well and attacked again in quick succession, with Meiji University’s SO Itoh receiving the ball, dodging through a gap in the enemy defence and scoring a try just under the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 5-12.

22 minutes of the first half:

While Kyosan University tried to break down their opponents with set plays, Meiji University cut the gain line with a BK development attack. After spreading out to the left and right, Kyoto Sangyo University’s response to Meiji University’s advances was a little backward. Meiji University attacked deep into the enemy territory, and after a PG from an infringement by the opponents, they closed in on the enemy in-goal, and from a lineout on their own ball, they quickly moved forward in a maul and hooker MATSUSHITA scored a try in the middle left. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and the score was 5-19, with Meiji University taking a 14-point lead.

28 minutes of the first half:

Meiji University had been pushing the game forward with a series of BK attacks up until this time. Here, Kyoto Sangyo University won the ball back in a tight battle deep in their own half and kicked the ball into enemy territory, where Meiji University committed an infringement. Kyoto Sangyo University opted for a penalty kick and advanced their position in front of the enemy in-goal. From there, Kyoto Sangyo University used contact play, mainly by their FWs, to close in on the enemy in-goal and finally deployed to the right, where FB NASU, who came on as a midway substitute, scored a try in the middle on the right. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 12-19.

Towards the end of the first half, Kyoto Sangyo University’s ball possession increased. Using their strength as a maul as a shield, the team worked together to advance deep into enemy territory, where Meiji University was unable to resist committing an infringement, giving them a PG opportunity. SO TSUJINO scored PGs in the 33rd and 38th minutes of the first half in quick succession to level the score at 18-19.

41 minutes of the first half:

Towards the end of the first half, Meiji University went on the offensive. Meiji University opted for a penalty kick instead of a PG after an infringement near halfway, and advanced their position to the enemy in-goal. From a lineout here, they formed a maul, which was once stopped, but they split the opposition defence down the middle and quickly moved into the enemy in-goal to score a try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 18-26, and Meiji University again outscored Kyoto Sangyo University.

This was the end of the first half. Both teams showed their strengths and thrilled the crowd at the National Stadium.

Now, which team will take control of the game in the second half and advance to the final? Let’s get the second half underway.

2 minutes of the second half:

Rain started to fall early in the second half. Perhaps because of this, Meiji University kicked off and the ball was dropped in front of them by Kyoto Sangyo University’s SH Ito deep in their own half. This put Kyoto Sangyo University in the pinch of a scrum deep in their own half with the ball in their opponents’ hands. From this scrum, Meiji University made a series of attacks. After attacking on the right side, they deployed to the left side, where Meiji University’s SO Ito received a pass and once again ran through the opposition defence to score a try in the middle on the left. Meiji University’s SO Ito was so quick to get up to top speed after receiving the ball that his opponents were taken aback the first time they faced him.

The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was 18-31.

7 minutes into the second half:

Kyoto Sangyo University attacked deep into enemy territory from the kick-off in an attempt to close the gap. However, a lineout in front of the enemy in-goal saw the visitors lose possession and miss a scoring opportunity.

From this point on, Meiji University seemed to have the mental edge and looked comfortable in their play. Meiji University made steady progress and went deep into enemy territory. Kyoto Sangyo University gradually began to be pushed back by individual contact, which they had dominated up to this point. In this situation, Meiji’s BK developed to the right, and from a deep line FB IKEDO ran in to receive the ball and went behind the enemy defence at once, scoring a try just behind the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 18-38.

With Kyoto Sangyo University trailing by 20 points at this stage of the game, handling errors were becoming more and more noticeable at key moments. They failed to secure the ball in a lineout deep in enemy territory, and then attempted a BK move near halfway, but again dropped the ball in front. From here, Meiji University kicked the ball deep into the box, and a scoring chance instantly turned into a scoring crisis.

20 minutes into the second half:

As Kyoto Sangyo University made a series of handling errors, Meiji University overcame their opponents with spirit and finally began to gain the upper hand in the scrums. From in front of the goal posts in the enemy territory, the scrum was developed to the right and the backs connected with the ball with a thick follow-through, allowing CTB AKIHAMA to score a try just under the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 18-45.

29 minutes into the second half:

Meiji University started to tire a little and a handling error allowed Kyoto Sangyo University to push deep into their own half. From there, Kyoto Sangyo University tried to push forward by forming a maul from their own ball lineout, but to their surprise, only one WTB was left and the 14 players pushed through the maul to score a try in the opponents’ in-goal in the middle left corner. The try was scored by TSUJINO, playing SO. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 25-45.

35 minutes of the second half:

In this match, Kyoto Sangyo University did not respond well to attacks from the deep line by the Meiji University BK. From behind, the Meiji University BK, who ran in, accelerated and followed up with more attacks, broke through the defence one after the other. This led to the Kyoto Sangyo University BK players becoming disheartened and led to a chain of handling errors.

Again, Kyoto Sangyo University’s defence was breached by a series of attacks from Meiji University’s BK, and finally a try was scored in the middle left by replacement Meiji University CTB TAIRA. A conversion goal after the try made the score 25-52 at last.

40 minutes into the second half:

Kyoto Sangyo University, looking for a last gasp, broke into the enemy territory and formed a maul to push forward at full stretch. The maul was joined later by BK players, and the 11 players pushed forward to the enemy in-goal to score a try. The try was scored by No.8 POLEO, a substitute from Kyoto Sangyo University. The conversion goal after the try failed.

The game ended here, with the final score 30-52 in favour of Meiji University. They will play the winner of the second match between Teikyo University and Tenri University in the final.

Kyoto Sangyo University showed that they were capable of playing well, but succumbed to the combined strength of Meiji University’s FW and BK. Despite the defeat, Kyoto Sangyo University has many promising players in the lower ranks and will be looking forward to next season’s development.

This will be followed by the second match.

This year marks the 60th edition of the National University Rugby Football Championship. In the second semi-final match, the absolute champions Teikyo University Rugby Club, who are aiming for their third consecutive championship title, face off against Tenri University, the second-ranked team in the Kansai League this time.

Let us introduce the two teams.

First, Teikyo University Rugby Club.

Teikyo University is aiming to become the number one university in Japan for the 12th time in total. The team no longer has any rivals at university level, and it is said that its strength could be matched even if it played against a League One team. Today, many of Japan’s national team players are from Teikyo University. Who can stop this Teikyo University winning streak, this time against Tenri University, which won the 2020 University Championship before Teikyo University’s streak began. Expect a good match.

Today’s starting line-up is as follows.

Teikyo University 
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Taishi TSUMURA172cm108kg22 
2Hayate ERA171cm100kg22U-18 JAPAN
3Taro UESUGI176cm113kg21 
4Takuma MOTOHASHI193cm118kg21 
5Ryeon YOON186cm108kg22 
6Keito AOKI187cm110kg21 
7Akito OKUI177cm103kg22U-18 JAPAN
8Shuto NOBUHARA182cm100kg21U-18 JAPAN
9Kumusu LEE174cm80kg21 
10Hitaka INOUE175cm80kg22 
11Tomu TAKAMOTO182cm90kg22U-18 JAPAN
12Taichi KUKINO179cm90kg21 
13Keito KAIDA180cm85kg22 
14Shinya KOMURA179cm87kg21 
15Taiki YAMAGUCHI177cm90kg22U-18,U-20 JAPAN

** Player to watch **

Hayate ERA. 171 cm, 100 kg, 22 years old. Position = Hooker. A graduate of Osaka Toin High School, Hayate is a member of the U-18 Japan national team and captain of Teikyo University, which is aiming for a third consecutive championship. Although he is not a big man, he makes up for it with his rugby sense, his outstanding leadership of the FW, and his fighting spirit that emanates during games. As the next generation of Japan’s national hooker, he is expected to play an even more active role in the future.

Next, an introduction of the Tenri University Rugby Club.

University Championship victory in 2020. In this season’s Kansai League, the team fought a fierce battle with Kyoto Sangyo University, and although they were narrowly beaten at the end of the game to finish second, they went on to win the University Championship, defeating Keio University (4th in the Kanto University Rivalry Group) 41-12 in the third round and Tokai University (1st in the Kanto University League Group) in the quarter-finals by 34-14. We hope they show Teikyo University that they can play rugby without being overpowered.

** Player to watch **

Patrick VAKATA. 189 cm, 112 kg, 21 years old. He is a graduate of Japan Aviation Ishikawa High School. Position = No.8. From Tonga. A player who epitomises the power of Tenri University. He is a monster with a bench press of 160 kg, but is also a fast 50 m runner with a time of 6.2 seconds. How far he can show his power at the point of contact and his ability to break through against Teikyo University will be the key to victory or defeat in this match.

Now for the start of the second match. Kick-off was 14:40.

14 minutes of the first half:

The teams were evenly matched in terms of individual clashes after deployment, with Teikyo University showing their superiority in terms of scrums. In the Kansai League, Tenri University had never experienced being pushed around in the scrum, but as expected of the student champions, Teikyo University were strong. Teikyo University’s winning pattern was to use a strong scrum early in the game to draw infringements from their opponents, advance on penalties, and always have the upper hand in the game, playing in the opposition’s territory and racking up points. However, Tenri University fought well at the point of contact in defence after deployment and stopped Teikyo University from advancing. However, Teikyo University got into enemy territory, deployed to the left, and when the ball was passed to WTB TAKAMOTO, he used his individual skills to pick off two opposing defenders and score a try in the left corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and Teikyo University scored the first points of the game to make the score 7-0.

17 minutes of the first half:

The two teams kicked each other, but Teikyo University’s FB YAMAGUCHI caught his own contested kick and immediately took it to the left side, where the ball was passed from No. 11 to No. 14. He scored his second try of the day in the left corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 14-0.

21st minute of the first half:

The game looked like it was going to be a one-sided game for Teikyo University, but Tenri University fought back from here. As if a switch had been flipped on by all Tenri University players, they pushed forward more strongly than ever at the point of contact with their opponents and connected with the ball. After closing in on the enemy in-goal, prop MATSUNO finally broke through a wall of three Teikyo University defenders and scored a try in the middle on the left. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 14-5.

35 minutes of the first half:

Tenri University’s spirits were high during this period, and the two teams were in a stalemate of strength. Outside of scrums, Tenri University were evenly matched. Tenri University were in the opposition’s territory, and although they repeated a series of attacks, they were unable to get inside the 22-metre line. Tenri University then quickly moved to the right from a rather poor scrum and, making full use of signalling play, right winger HIROTA made a good run down the line. As he approached the enemy in-goal, he was caught by the Teikyo University defence, but the ball was passed to Tenri University’s left WTB FUJIWARA, who followed inside and scored a try right in the middle. The conversion goal after the try was also scored, making the score 14-12.

Tenri University began to dominate the game here. After the try, Tenri University kicked off and the ball was passed to No.8 VAKATA, who charged into the enemy line with great vigour, beating the Teikyo University defence by eight men to the delight of the crowd.

41 minutes of the first half:

Both sides kicked a high punt, but Teikyo University was fouled on the catch and Tenri University opted to go for the PG. With the horn already sounding for the end of the first half, Tenri University’s Tsutsuguchi attempted a PG from his own line near halfway, from a distance of almost 60 metres.

The PG fell a little short of distance and a Teikyo University player kicked it outwards, ending the first half.

Teikyo University, as usual, blamed and scored at once from the beginning of the game, but from the middle of the first half, Tenri University showed their aggressiveness and showed a competitive battle. We look forward to another good game in the second half.

Let’s get the second half underway.

3 minutes of the second half:

Tenri University committed an infringement in the centre of the ground, and from the penalty kick awarded, Teikyo University advanced their position to the enemy 22m line. From this position, from a lineout on their own ball, the ball was spread to the right and passed to WTB Komura in the left corner, who grounded it into the middle right of the enemy in-goal for Teikyo University’s first points of the second half. The conversion goal after the try failed, leaving the score 19-12.

7 minutes into the second half:

Teikyo University had a PG opportunity from a Not Role Away infringement by their opponents a little way into enemy territory, on the right side of the ground. Teikyo University FB YAMAGUCHI succeeded steadily to make the score 22-12.

Teikyo University had reflected on their poor contact with Tenri University in the first half, and players were quick to pull together to avoid being pushed over in contact with their opponents. This made it difficult for Tenri University to make progress.

From the 15th minute of the second half, the game became a stalemate. Tenri University’s energy was so high that despite the game being almost entirely in Tenri University’s favour, no points were scored. However, there were two scenes where, if video judgement had been used, it would have been a try for Teikyo University. The fact that the University Championship only had video judgment in the final game worked somewhat against Teikyo University in this situation. However, the fact that the match remained closely contested kept the tension in the game alive.

And as the match came to an end

In the first match, Kyoto Sangyo University seemed to have been outplayed by Meiji University, but in the second match Tenri University, despite losing to Teikyo University, seemed to give it all they had. Many of Tenri University’s players looked refreshed.

As a result of this semi-final, the final pairing was Teikyo University, aiming for a third consecutive university championship, against Meiji University, who were hoping to celebrate their 100th anniversary with a victory. The final will take place on 13 January. There is a week longer than usual between the two teams. Both teams will need to be in good condition to play a good game worthy of the final.

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Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

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RUGBY JERSEY -National University Rugby Championship 3rd Round 

 (Written by Azul: January 7, 2024)

This season’s National University Rugby Championship has begun.

The participating schools are as follows.

Participating schools Breakdown: 14

(1) Kanto University Rivalry Group Top 5 schools:

  1st : Teikyo University

  2nd : Meiji University

  3rd : Waseda University

  4th : University of Tsukuba

  5th : Keio University

2) Kanto University League Group Top 3 Schools:

  1st : Tokai University

  2nd : Ryutsu Keizai University

  3rd : Hosei University

3) Kansai University League Top 3 schools:

1st : Kyoto Sangyo University

2nd : Tenri University

3rd : Kwansei Gakuin University

4) Kyushu Student Rugby League 1st : Kyushu Institute of Technology

(5) Hokkaido Tohoku District Representative: Hachinohe Gakuin University

6) Tokai, Hokuriku, Chugoku, Shikoku district representative: Chukyo University

The difference in the number of schools selected in each league is due to the most recent results.

As of this day (December 17), the third round had already started, and the number of spectators was 4,402, about 20% of the capacity of Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium. The attendance was a little sad, with only a few people from the participating schools and a few general rugby fans coming to watch the game.

It is expected that the excitement of this tournament will start after the semifinals, where the top schools will meet. Teikyo University, the current two-time consecutive winner of the championship, has a good reputation, and it will be interesting to see how far the top teams from each league can go against them.

I watched the following two matches.

(1) Ryutsu Keizai University vs University of Tsukuba

(2) Waseda University vs. Hosei University

Let me introduce the opposing teams for the first match.

First, let me tell you about the Ryutsu Keizai University Rugby Club.

The club was founded in 1965. In recent years, the team has been ranked at the top of the Kanto University League group and is becoming a regular participant in the National University Rugby Championships. The team’s best result in the championship was the top eight. The team is a free-attacking team, capable of scoring from any position in the FW and BK. However, the top teams in the championship have strong FWs and strong defenses, so breaking through this barrier is the key to advancing to the final four.

Today’s starting lineup is as follows.

Ryutsu Keizai University 
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Jinichiro TAMANAGA177cm112kg22 
2Shunsuke SAKUTA176cm103kg22 
3Kazuma YOSHIMURA176cm112kg22 
4Kenta UEDA182cm100kg21 
5Len SCHINCKEL186cm108kg21 
6Hikaru SHINOZAWA183cm101kg21 
7Toshiya HARADA170cm93kg22 
8Loketi TISILELI191cm122kg21 
9Yosuke TAKEI168cm72kg22 
10Kai SASAKI172cm81kg21 
11Ryo TOMA177cm93kg21 
12Haruto SUGISAKI178cm90kg22 
13Andrew HAYWARD186cm96kg21 
14Aporosa DERENALAGI188cm86kg22 
15Fuma NAKAMURA170cm73kg21 

** Player to watch **

Kai SASAKI, 172 cm, 81 kg, 21 years old. He is a graduate of Jyosho Gakuen High School. As an attacking SO, he is the leader of Ryutsu Keizai University’s attack this season.  He played a close game against Tokai University, the champion of the Kanto University League group for six straight years, and was involved in the championship game. He shows an aggressive attack centering on his own run play. The team has high expectations for Ryutsu Keizai University to achieve its best ever performance in the University Championship.

Next, let us introduce our opponent, The University of Tsukuba Rugby Club.

This club made it to the top four in the University Championship last season, and is expected to make great strides this season. University of Tsukuba and Ryutsu Keizai University’s campuses are located close to each other, and the two teams often play each other close, perhaps because they know each other’s game well through practice matches. This season, the team has a strong starting lineup that includes five members of the Japanese high school national team.

The starting lineup for this match is as follows.

Tsukuba University 
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Ryosei OTSUKA174cm95kg23 
2Hayate HIRAISHI178cm100kg21 
3Masato TANAKA182cm107kg22 
4Tomonosuke SHIROMARU185cm105kg19U18 Japan
5Shuntaro ISOBE190cm110kg19 
6Kodai Sean YOKOMIZO187cm90kg21 
7Kenkichi YANAGAWA188cm100kg22 
8Hayata TANIYAMA184m95kg22U18 Japan
9Yutaro TAKAHASHI172m74kg20U18,U20 Japan
10Kanjiro NARAMOTO177cm84kg19U18 ,U20Japan,JJ
11Ryota OHATA175cm75kg21 
12Kai HAMASHIMA176cm75kg22 
13Kento IIOKA183cm83kg19U18 Japan
14Toshiki KUROSAWA173cm80kg22 
15Tasuku MASUYAMA177cm82kg19 
JJ=Junior Japan

** Player to watch **

Kanjiro NARAMOTO. 177 cm, 84 kg, 19 years old. A graduate of Higashi Fukuoka High School, he has been selected for Japan’s U18, U20, and Junior Japan national teams, and possesses the wide tactical vision, unmatched kicking accuracy, and individual breakthrough ability required of a SO.

Let the matches begin. Kick-off for the first match of the day was at 11:30.

8 minutes into the first half:

Ryutsu Keizai University started the game with a series of attacks, mainly by the FWs, in the enemy territory, producing a near try. However, in front of the enemy in-goal, they were fouled and missed a scoring opportunity.

In response, University of Tsukuba scored a try from a scrum near the centre of the ground, with No.8 TANIYAMA making a gain on the right side, and from there, the ball was spread wide to the left side, from CTB IIOKA to FB MASUYAMA, who scored a try in the middle left of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 0-7.

CTB IIOKA, who assisted the first try, is a member of this season’s much-talked-about Golden Generation of Rugby.

17 minutes into the first half:

Ryutsu Keizai University greatly outweigh Tsukuba University in terms of the average weight of their FWs, and show strength in contact play, but they are unable to mount a sustained attack due to a slightly high number of penalties. When Tsukuba attacked in this period, they were fouled deep in their own half, and a PG was scored by Tsukuba SO Naramoto, giving up three points.

21 minutes into the first half:

Ryutsu Keizai University had missed scoring opportunities up to this point due to a series of unnecessary infringements, but this time around they used their strength in set plays to their advantage and attacked deep into enemy territory, eventually scoring a try by FL Shinozawa in the right corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, leaving the score 5-10.

25 minutes of the first half:

Shortly after the counter-attack, Ryutsu Keizai University committed another infringement and conceded a PG to Tsukuba University. This was scored by University of Tsukuba’s SO Naramoto, making the score 5-13.

28 minutes into the first half:

WTB DERENALAGI picked up the ball after being forced into his own half, and from there he dived past the opposition defense for a big gain and penetrated deep into enemy territory. From there, they used the strength of their individual contact to close in on the opposition in-goal, with FL SHINOZAWA scoring his second try of the day in the middle right of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, leaving the score 10-13.

38 minutes into the first half:

University of Tsukuba’s tactic for the day was to avoid set pieces and use the ground widely to develop their game. In contrast, Ryutsu Keizai University took on a contrasting style of play, starting with set plays, particularly scrums, and using the strength of individual contact to break the deadlock. The two sides scored points against each other in a match that was full of highlights and thrilled the crowd. Then, Ryutsu Keizai University scored in the closing stages of the first half. They continued to use contact play to push forward, and in the end, No. 8 TISILELI scored a try just below the goal post with a powerful move that saw two University of Tsukuba defenders fly over the line.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Ryutsu Keizai University successfully reversed the score to 17-13.

42 minutes into the first half:

After the turnaround, Ryutsu Keizai University committed another foul immediately afterwards, giving Tsukuba University the opportunity to score a PG. This was steadily converted by University of Tsukuba’s SO Naramoto to end the first half with the score at 17-16 to one point.

The last time these two teams met in the University Championships, it was a close match, and this time it seemed like a similar story. A good match is expected in the second half as well.

1st minute into the second half:

The two teams kicked each other soon after the start of the match, with University of Tsukuba FB MASUYAMA counter-attacking from deep in his own half after a University of Ryutsu Keizai kick. MASUYAMA then rode at top speed and, after shaking off a succession of pursuing Ryutsu Keizai University defenders, scored a try in the middle left of that in-goal in enemy territory.The conversion goal after the try was also successful and the score was 17-23 to the University of Tsukuba.

17 minutes into the second half:

The visitor team had a number of set piece opportunities in this period, and on each occasion, Ryutsu Keizai University pushed University of Tsukuba in front at the scrum, and closed in on the opposition in-goal. When they had a lineout opportunity in front of the in-goal, they secured the ball, formed a maul and went close to the in-goal at once.At this point, Tsukuba University committed an infringement by deliberately collapsing a maul, resulting in a certified try for Ryutsu Keizai University, and the score was 24-23 to Ryutsu Keizai University, giving them a one-point lead. The University of Tsukuba’s prop Tanaka was temporarily sent off for 10 minutes for this foul.

18 minutes into the second half:

A dense battle at the restart drew a foul on Ryutsu Keizai University, giving them a PG opportunity, which SO Naramoto converted to make the score 24-26.

27 minutes into the second half:

Ryutsu Keizai University were outplayed by Tsukuba University in a densely contested battle and were forced into their own in-goal after a series of infringements. From a lineout on their own ball, Tsukuba University surged forward in a maul and went in for a try, but Ryutsu Keizai University defended well and prevented a try. However, the University of Tsukuba’s FW repeated a side-attack in a dense battle immediately afterwards, and scored a try in the middle on the left.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 24-33 to Tsukuba University’s nine-point lead.

38 minutes into the second half:

With time running out, the game was at a stalemate. The visitors had to get to within seven points at least early on, or they would be unable to mount a comeback, given the time remaining. Here, Ryutsu Keizai University opted for a PG after a foul by their opponents, and SO SASAKI, despite being downwind, aimed a 40-metre PG, which he successfully completed.

From the kick-off after Tsukuba University’s PG, Ryutsu Keizai University counter-attacked and No.8 TISILELI made a big gain and got into Tsukuba University’s territory, but in the remaining time, Tsukuba University skillfully consumed time and the game was over. As a result, University of Tsukuba won the match and advanced to the quarter-finals.

The two schools congratulated each other on their good performance.

Next, the second match of the day was Waseda University vs Hosei University.

Every year, I think, there are more than 40 minutes between the first and second games, and if you are watching two games in a row in the middle of winter, you are exposed to the north wind for almost five hours in a row, which is cold.

Let me now introduce the two schools that will play in the second match.

First, let’s talk about Waseda University Rugby Club.

This season, Waseda University finished third in the Kanto University Rivalry Group, losing to Teikyo University and Meiji University. However, the matches they lost this season were close defeats, and last season they came from third place in the Kanto University Rivalry Group to runners-up in the University Championship, so we expect them to bounce back from this. Today’s opponents, Hosei University, are the same type of team who play with the ability to develop their BK, so we expect a good match.

This day’s starting line-up is as follows.

Waseda University 
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Airou SUGIMOTO179cm112kg20U19 Japan
2Kenji SATO177cm108kg20 
3Taiga KAWASAKI171cm108kg20 
4Daito HOSOKAWA182cm102kg22 
5Daiki IKEMOTO186cm105kg21 
6Naoto YASUTSUNE172cm98kg20 
7Hitoshi NAGASHIMA178cm96kg22 
8Kanji MATSUNUMA177m93kg19U18 Japan
9Shota SHIMIZU171m70kg21 
10Rentaro HISATOMI172cm83kg22 
11Shuho FUKUSHIMA183cm92kg20U18 Japan
12Kengo NONAKA180cm95kg20U18 ,U20Japan
13Soma OKAZAKI177cm91kg21 
14Yoshitaka YAZAKI180cm86kg19U18,U20 Japan
15Daisuke ITO179cm88kg22U18 Japan

** Player to watch **.

Yoshitaka YAZAKI. 180 cm, 86 kg, 19 years old. Born in Toin Gakuen High School. Position = FB, WTB. U18, U20 Japan national team. Japan Rugby Golden Generation leader. As a first-year high school student, he was already a regular player at Toin Gakuen High School, which won the national championship, and also won a regular position at Waseda University as soon as he entered the school. His speed, tactical awareness and contact play are outstanding for a player of his age group. He is a player who is expected to make the national team in the near future.

Next, I would like to introduce the Hosei University Rugby Club.

Hosei University qualified for the University Championship this season by finishing third in the Kanto University League group.

The team boasts the highest number of victories in the Kanto University League Group with 13 championships. The team also won the University Championship in the 1965 and 1992 seasons. However, in recent years the team’s results have been poor and it has been six years since they have qualified for the University Championship. The team’s style of rugby is oriented towards running rugby, with the BK playing a wide role.

This day’s starting line-up is as follows.

Hosei University 
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Ryota YOTSUMOTO169cm102kg22 
2Kugo ISHIKAWA168cm93kg21 
3Meishi WATANABE171cm105kg21 
4Kanta HOSOKAWA184cm103kg19 
5Riki TAKEBE186cm111kg21 
6Takenori YAMASHITA170cm85kg22 
7Kohki MIYASHITA186cm105kg19U20Japan
8Kiichi TAKAGI186cm100kg22 
9Kazuma YAMAWAKI170cm73kg21 
10You KIM175cm84kg21 
11Shuji SHIIBA173cm80kg23 
12Taisei TANAKA176cm85kg20 
13Shun NAKAI172cm84kg21 
14Rei ISHIOKA177cm80kg22U18 Japan
15Takuru KITAGAWA170cm82kg20 

** Player to watch **

Shuji SHIIBA. 173 cm, 80 kg, 23 years old. He is a graduate of Hyuga High School in Miyazaki Prefecture.

Although he did not participate in any national tournaments in high school, he was a hard-working player who won a regular place at Hosei University, which is full of fast-footed athletes.This season, he is the BK leader at Hosei University. He is a decisive WTB who makes his presence felt on the scoresheet. He will be looking to accumulate as many wins as possible as he enters his final year.

Let the matches begin. Kick-off for the second match was at 14:00.

In the early stages of the match, Hosei University’s inconsistent set play gradually allowed Waseda University to gain ground. They were pushed in scrums and contact play, and gradually made headway. Then, from a lineout near the enemy in-goal, Waseda University pushed forward in a maul and hooker SATOH scored a try in the middle on the right. The conversion goal after the try was missed. The score was 5-0.

13 minutes into the first half:

Waseda University scored a PG to make the score 8-0. Both Waseda and Hosei played quick, spread-out rugby, using the whole ground, but Waseda was quicker in the cluster. As a result, most of the match was played in Hosei University’s camp.

24 minutes into the first half:

Hosei kicked the ball deep into enemy territory, Waseda University passed the ball from right to left, the ball was passed to Waseda University WTB YAZAKI in the right corner and he dashed to the top, overtook the Hosei defenders one after another with just his speed and ran over 70m without letting them touch him, scoring a try in the enemy in-goal.

Hosei University’s BK players also boasted speed, but Waseda University’s YAZAKI showed impressive speed that did not deter them at all. The conversion goal after the try failed, and the score was 13-0.

28 minutes of the first half:

Waseda University’s WTB YAZAKI was again mesmerising here. Unencumbered by the right WTB position, YAZAKI appeared to appear and disappear when on the attack. From a dense battle in Hosei University’s ranks, he received a pass from a FW side attack and accelerated from a stationary position to score a try in the middle on the left.

He moves so fast that the camera can’t keep up with him. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 20-0.

31 minutes into the first half:

The game became a one-sided game for Waseda University and Hosei University had extremely few opportunities to have the ball. Hosei University were not being pushed too far in terms of individual contact, but Waseda University were clearly quicker in gathering and dispersing players in dense areas, gradually closing in on the in-goal and finally Waseda University’s SO HISATOMI scored a try in the middle left of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and the score, 27-0.

Waseda University then scored one try, one goal and one PG in the first half to end the first half with a 37-0 margin.

Looking back at the first half, Hosei University did not make a single save against loose balls in dense battles. This is a bit of a stretch, but it is thought that Waseda University were the first to get to a dropped ball in any phase of the game, which meant that Hosei University were not allowed to make any saves. Both teams play development-oriented rugby, so it was no wonder that the points gap was so wide if they were always on the back foot against even ball. In the second half, I expect Hosei University to rally.

Let’s get the second half underway.

Perhaps the coach gave them a hard time at half-time, Hosei University started to stop losing the ball carelessly. In the first scrum of the second half, they pushed Waseda University repeatedly, causing Waseda University to break the scrum and concede an infringement. Also, in the 9th minute of the second half, Hosei University FB KITAGAWA slipped behind the Waseda University defensive net, and for the first time in the match, the crowd cheered Hosei University’s play.

19 minutes into the second half:

Hosei University started to show more tenacity in attack and defense, and the game started to get more interesting, but Waseda University still showed their strength in close quarters battles, and gradually attacked deep into enemy territory from a series of attacks. WTB FUKUSIMA scored a try in the left corner of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, but Waseda University scored the first points of the second half. The score was 42-0.

27 minutes into the second half:

Perhaps inspired by Hosei University’s attacking fervour, Waseda University went on the offensive again here. From the kick-off after the try, the teams were locked in a tight battle, and a Hosei infringement led to a scrum on Waseda’s own ball. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 49-7.

37 minutes of the second half:

Waseda University came within a whisker of the enemy in-goal with a series of attacks. However, a knock-on infringement at this point resulted in a scrum in Hosei University’s favour. From this deep position, Hosei University moved to the left and FB KITAGAWA kicked the ball. Hosei WTB SIIBA dribbled the ball, which rolled into the enemy’s in-goal, and held it himself for a try. The conversion goal after the try failed and the score was 49-12.

Looking at the second half of the match alone, Hosei University and Waseda University were evenly matched. The fans who came to see the match on this day would have expected the two sides to bring out the best in each other. In this respect, Waseda University could be said to have shown the difference in experience from their consecutive appearances in the University Championships.

41 minutes into the second half:

From the kick-off after the Waseda’s try, the visitors broke into the opposition line and a scrum ensued, but Waseda prop KAMEYAMA, who took over at this point, was able to push through, giving the visitors a reprieve from their poor start to the second half. The scrum drew a collapsing infringement from Hosei University, which led to a penalty kick and a lineout on their own ball. From there, Waseda University pushed forward in a maul and hooker Shimizu scored a try in the left corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed. Time ran out at this point and Waseda University won with a final score of 54-12.

As the University Championship is a tournament format where a loss is the end of the tournament, Waseda University will now face Kyoto Sangyo University, the number one ranked team in the Kansai League, in the quarter-finals. Hosei University’s season came to an end with this loss.

The first match of the day’s University Championships was a close and exciting affair, and the second match was not a close one in terms of score, but the loser, Hosei University, showed their strength in the second half, giving all concerned hope for the coming season. The next round of the championship is to be looked forward to.

**********************

Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

*************************

RUGBY JERSEY – Japan Rugby League One 2023-2024 season begins 

Toshiba Brave Lupas vs Shizuoka Blue Revs

(Written by Azul: December 21, 2023)

On December 9, 2023, the new season of Japan’s professional rugby league, League One, began. I visited Tokyo Stadium (Ajinomoto Stadium), the main venue for RWC 2019, to watch the game.

Here are the teams participating in this season’s League One.

First, Division 1

2022-23League One Order (Division 1)
rankingteam
1Saitama Wildnights
2Kubota Spears
3Tokyo Sungoliath
4Yokohama Eagles
5Tokyo Brave Lupas
6Toyota Verblitz
7Shizuoka Blue Revs
8Black Rams Tokyo
9Kobe Steelers
10Sagamihara Dynaboars
12Hanazono Riners
NewMie Honda Heat

Introduced by last season’s standings, the lineup for Division 1 is as shown above. Green Rockets Tokatsu, who finished 11th last season, was relegated to Division 2 after losing in the replacement round, and Mie Honda Heat was promoted from Division 2 to replace them.

Next, let us introduce the participating teams in Division 2.

orderteam
NewGreen Rockets Tokatsu
1Urayasu D-Rocks
3Toyota Shuttles AICHI
6Kamaishi Seawaves RFC
NewKyushu Denryoku Kyuden Voltecs
NewRed Hurricanes Osaka

Kyuden Voltecs and Red Hurricanes Osaka were promoted from Division 3.

The final five teams in Division 3 are as follows

orderteam
NewHino Red Dolphins
NewShimizu Kensetsu Koto Blue SHARKS
3Kurita Water Gash Akishima
4Sky Active Hiroshima
5Chugoku Denryoku Red Reglions

The Red Dolphins and Koto Blue Sharks are relegated from Division 2.

The Red Dolphins was relegated due to team misconduct, so for this season only, there will be a three-team changeover in Division 2.

As this is the year of the RWC, each team will be looking to increase their attendance figures in the wake of the fervor of the event. Last season, attendance in Division 1 ranged from 3,000 to 4,000 for each game, excluding playoff games. Each team has a goal of 10,000 spectators per game, but to achieve this goal, the games must be rich in content. This season, League One has 59 players who represented their countries at RWC 2023. Expectations are high for the matches I will be watching today.

Anna Asano, MC of J SPORTS TV, which broadcasts all League One matches, appeared on the field for this match. There was loud cheering from the stands.

It was clear that today’s match was drawing a lot of attention.

Let me introduce the two teams that will be playing today.

First, let me introduce the home team, Toshiba Brave Lupas.

Last season, they finished 5th out of 12 teams, narrowly missing the playoffs. The team’s style is traditionally to break through head-on with force, with a strong front line. This season, New Zealand national team member Richie MOUNGA(SO) and Shannon FRIZELL(FL) have joined the team adding depth to the attack. Today’s starting lineup is as follows.

TOSHIBA Brave Lupas
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Sena KIMURA175cm105kg24 
2Mamoru HARADA175cm101kg24 
3Taufa LATU183cm120kg25 
4Warner Dearns202cm123kg21Japan 11caps
5Jacob Pierce201cm106kg26 
6Shannon Frizell195cm108kg29New Zealand  33caps
7Takeshi SASAKI180cm101kg26 
8Michael Leitch189cm113kg33Japan 72caps
9Yuhei Sugiyama169cm76kg26 
10Richie MO’UNGA176cm83kg29New Zealand  44caps
11Atsuo KUWAYAMA183cm92kg26 
12Taichi MANO173cm87kg26 
13Seta TAMANIVALU189cm112kg30New Zealand  5caps
14Jone Naikabula177cm95kg29Japan 4caps
15Takuro MATSUNAGA172cm82kg25 

** Players to watch **

Richie MOUNGA, 176cm, 83kg, 29 years old, has 44 caps for NZ and was the best SO in the world at RWC 2023, and Japanese fans are lucky to see him in his prime in Japan. In addition to his superior basic skills as a SO, he has the speed and penetration to cut through opposing teams when he sees an opening. This season, Brave Lupas has added a new weapon to their offensive arsenal.

Next, I would like to introduce today’s Visitor Tam, the SHIZUOKA Blue Revs.

Last season, they placed 7th out of 12 teams. The team’s style is to show unparalleled strength in the scrum, the set play of the FW. With their physical strength to run until the end of the game, which is produced by their daily intense practice, they show their strength in the latter half of the game. They are a very troublesome team for opponents. Their team spirit of never giving up until the last minute of the game is what attracts the hearts of their supporters.

Today’s starting lineup is as follows.

Shizuoka Blue Revs
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Kazuhiro KWADA172cm102kg27 
2Takeshi HINO172cm100kg33Japan 5caps
3Heiichiro ITO175cm115kg33 
4Eisin KUWANO193cm112kg29 
5Murray DOUGLAS198cm115kg34 
6Yuya Odo187cm104kg33Japan 5caps
7Takuma SHOJI182cm100kg24 
8Malgene ILAUA187cm107kg30Japan 7cap
9Yuki YATOMI176cm82kg38Japan 16cap
10Kenta IEMURA176cm93kg22 
11Malo TUITAMA182cm91kg27 
12Viliami TAHITUA183cm102kg32Tonga 9cap
13Sylvian MAHUZA179cm82kg30 
14Futo YAMAGUCHI167cm76kg23 
15Charles PIUTAU186cm95kg32NZ17caps, Tonga 1cap

** Players to watch  **

Kenta IEMURA is 176 cm, 93 kg, 22 years old. He is a graduate of Kyoto Sangyo University. He joined the Blue Revs last season and is quickly finding his place in the team. His accurate place kicking, precise decision making, and solid playing style are the main weapons of the Blue Revs. We look forward to seeing if his performance this season can lift the team to the championship contention.

Let the games begin. Kickoff was at 14:35.

2 minutes into the first half:

Brave Lupas attacked deep into the enemy territory, and after a series of attacks on the right edge of the field, Brave Lupas took a big step to the left to create a numerical advantage, and CTB TAMANIVALU scored a try in the left corner of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, and Brave Lupas took the lead, making the score 5-0.

9 minutes into the first half:

The Blue Revs were held up by their opponents in the early stages of the game, but they showed their solid game with steady set pieces. After a penalty kick for a foul by the opponents, the Blue Revs got a lineout deep in the enemy territory and put together a maul to advance. In the end, ILAUA (No.8) scored a try in front of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the Blue Revs turned the score to 5-7.

16 minutes into the first half:

In this period, Blue Revs won the ball and attacked continuously with solid connection, not letting go of the ball easily. Then, when they were close to the enemy’s in-goal again, they formed a scrum on their own ball, pushed their opponents forward, and finally, No.8 ILAUA scored his second try of the day. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 5-14, Blue Revs leading by 9 points.

21 minutes into the first half:

Brave Lupas again showed aggression, but at the crucial moment, they made a handling error and failed to score.

Blue Revs’ SO IEMURA kicked deep into enemy territory, and Brave Lupas tried to counter-attack, but was denied by a foul in front of their own goal post. The Blue Revs then opted for a PG, which SO IEMURA converted to make the score 5-17.

25 minutes into the first half:

Brave Lupas was a little outclassed, but WTB KUWAYAMA was mesmerizing. In a series of attacks in enemy territory, KUWAYAMA received the ball, broke through the opposing defense, and stepped past the defenders in front of him to score a try to the left. Brave Lupas was able to fight back, scoring 10-17, despite a missed conversion goal.

30 minutes into the first half:

Brave Lupas started their attack from the center of the field, and after a move to the right, the ball was passed to NAIKABURA, the right WTB, who dodged three Blue Revs defenders and scored a try on the right side of the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Brave Lupas tied the score 17-17.

38 minutes into the first half:

The Blue Revs broke out of their own half behind the defense and almost scored a try, but it was blocked three meters in front of the in-goal. Immediately afterwards, the Brave Lupas FWs made a vertical charge through the enemy line and connected with the ball to advance to the in-goal area. From there, Brave Lupas’ BKs moved to the left, creating a numerical advantage, and CTB TAMANIVALU scored the try in the left corner of the in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed, and the score was 22-17, again with Brave Lupas leading the score.

42 minutes into the first half:

Brave Lupas committed an infringement in their own territory near the end of the first half, and the Blue Revs opted to go for the PG. The Blue Revs chose to go for the PG. The distance was about 50 meters, and there was an angle, but SO IEMURA scored it beautifully to end the first half. The score was 22-20 in favor of Brave Lupas. The two teams were evenly matched, making for a spectacular opening game.

Compared to last season, both teams have grown noticeably, and we can expect a lot of excitement from LEAGUE ONE as a whole this season. Hopefully, we will be able to attract more spectators as befits this heated game. The attendance for the day was 11,553.

Our immediate goal would be to exceed the attendance record immediately after RWC2019.

Let’s start the second half.

2 minutes into the second half:

It was the Blue Revs who scored the first score of the second half. SMITH, the captain of the team, came on at No.8 in the second half, and he ran into a dense crowd and immediately drew a Not Release the Ball foul from the opposing team. The SO IEMURA, who had a 100% goal success rate on the day, successfully converted it into a PG to put the Blue Revs up 22-23.

15 minutes into the second half:

The two sides clashed with each other’s willpower and showed each other’s strengths, making this a very spectacular match. Brave Lupas broke the deadlock after a few minutes of intense play, with Brave Lupas going close in their own box and both teams’ forwards exchanging blows. The SO MOUNGA kicked a pass to the right corner, where WTB NAIKABURA caught it and scored a try in the left corner of the in-goal.

Brave Lupas showed a new attacking pattern that was not seen last season.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 29-23, Brave Lupas was back on top.

18 minutes into the second half:

3 minutes later, Brave Lupas, with momentum on their side, had one of their newest players, flanker FRIZZELL, break through the opposing defense from the center of the field and score a big gain near the in-goal area. FRIZZEL, an active All Blacks player with 33 caps for the New Zealand national team, showed his ability to score tries. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 36-23.

25 minutes into the second half:

At this point in the game, Brave Lupas was starting to take the lead, but the Blue Revs were not to be outdone, and their fighting spirit was ignited. After entering the enemy camp, the Blue Revs made steady progress, moving left and right, and approached the opponent’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 36-30, with the Blue Revs trailing by 6 points.

29 minutes into the second half:

The Blue Revs were up by 6 points at the 29th minute of the second half, but it was Brave Lupas’ WTB NAIKABURA who scored the final try of the game. The ball was received on the right side of the field and rolled behind the defense, where he ran in, picked up the ball, and scored his fourth try of the day in the middle of the opposition’s in-goal, NAIKABURA’s versatility as a WTB and, above all, his decisiveness in scoring tries, have improved dramatically since his full participation in RWC 2023.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 43-30. Despite the loss, the Blue Revs kept the game exciting until the end of the match, and the crowd cheered them on. With a series of games like this, League One could be on par with the best national leagues in the world this season.

**********************

Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

*************************

RUGBY JERSEY – Kanto University Rugby 

Teikyo University vs Waseda University: the rise of the golden generation

(Written by Azul: November 26, 2023)

The RWC2023 in France ended with South Africa winning the tournament for the fourth time. Japan’s Brave Blossoms Rugby team tried to reach the final tournament for the second time, but unfortunately ended up in third place in their pool after losing to Argentina’s Los Pumas final match in the pool. Back in Japan, the Blossoms began their domestic campaign for the RWC 2027 Australia in four years’ time.

The fun part of this time of year is finding out if there are any promising players developing in the younger generation for the next four years. In case you are wondering, this year’s 19-year-olds have been dubbed the Golden Generation after their high school national team toured Ireland and went toe-to-toe with the Irish U-18s, who are regarded as the best in the world. Hence, the number of players who have secured regular places in each of the domestic universities, even as first-year students, is more conspicuous than in previous years. This season’s domestic rugby will follow such promising newcomers.

On 5 November 2023, a Kanto University Rugby match between Teikyo University (last season’s first-placed team) and Waseda University (last season’s third-placed team) took place.

Looking at the most recent results, Teikyo University has dominated Waseda. In the final of last season’s University Championships, Teikyo University won by a score of 73-20 against Waseda University. Teikyo University was so strong that there was a big gap between them and other universities. It remains to be seen whether a team that can threaten last season’s University Championship champions, Teikyo University, will emerge this season.

Every year, when I watch the University Championships, I inevitably have many opportunities to hear the school song of the winning school, Teikyo University, so I naturally learn it. It is now a prestigious name that has sent the largest number of players to the Japanese national rugby team.

And in the match of the day, most of the sports media predicted that Teikyo University would win by a huge margin.

Can last year’s University Championship runners-up Waseda University overturn this previous reputation?

Let’s take a look at the starting line-up for the day. First up is Defending Champion Teikyo University.

Teikyo University 
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Hanjiro HIRAI180cm108kg20 
2Hayate ERA171cm100kg22U-18 JAPAN
3Taro UESUGI176cm113kg21 
4Takuma MOTOHASHI193cm118kg21 
5Ryeon YOON186cm108kg22 
6Keito AOKI187cm110kg21 
7Akito OKUI177cm103kg22U-18 JAPAN
8Shuto NOBUHARA182cm100kg21U-18 JAPAN
9Kumusu LEE174cm80kg21 
10Hitaka INOUE175cm80kg22 
11Tomu TAKAMOTO182cm90kg22U-18 JAPAN
12Yoshiki OMACHI172cm82kg19U-18 JAPAN
13Yamato UEDA180cm85kg18U-18 JAPAN
14Jyunnosuke AOYAGI177cm83kg19U-18 JAPAN
15Shinya KOMURA179cm87kg21 

University champions Teikyo University have few members missing from last season, with their powerful FWs remaining largely intact. In addition, this season, two newcomers, UEDA at CTB and AOYAGI at WTB, are considered the golden generation and have been named in the starting line-up immediately.

Next is the starting line-up for last season’s University Championship runners-up, Waseda University, as follows.

Waseda University 
No.Nameheightweightage 
1Yutaro YAMAGUCHI175cm110kg19 
2Kenji SATO177cm108kg20 
3Taiga KAWASAKI171cm108kg20 
4Jingo MURATA185cm104kg21 
5Daiki IKEMOTO186cm105kg21 
6Naoto YASUTSUNE172cm98kg20 
7Hitoshi NAGASHIMA178cm96kg22 
8Kanji MATSUNUMA177m93kg19U18 Japan
9Haruta SHIMAMOTO167m71kg21 
10Daisuke ITO179cm88kg22U18 Japan
11Yoshitaka YAZAKI180cm86kg19U18,U20 Japan
12Kengo NONAKA180cm95kg20U18 ,U20Japan
13Soma OKAZAKI177cm91kg21 
14Taisei MORIYA175cm85kg21 
15Daisuke ITO179cm88kg22U18 Japan

Waseda University has changed quite a few regular members since last season. This season, SO/FB ITO has been appointed as the captain and it will be interesting to see what kind of rugby he can show us.

Waseda University also has a golden generation of first-year players in the starting line-up, with No.8 MATSUNUMA and WTB YAZAKI. I too have high expectations for their performance.

Let’s start the first half of the match.

5 minutes into the first half: Waseda University tried to hold on through attacking and a tight FW battle, but were unable to break down Teikyo’s solid defense. In response, Teikyo University took the ball in the enemy line and deployed to the right to create a numerical advantage and CTB UEDA scored a try in the middle on the right in the in-goal area. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and Teikyo University scored first. The score was 7-0 to Teikyo University. Teikyo University’s remarkable freshman CTB UEDA quickly put on a show and scored.

Teikyo dominated Waseda in set plays, especially in the scrums, and it looked like it was going to be a one-sided game for Teikyo University, as it was last season. However, Waseda, despite being pushed in the scrums, managed to secure their own ball and created opportunities for successive attacks. In contrast, Teikyo University penetrated Waseda’s defense several times and created some decisive opportunities, but at the critical moment, they made a handling error and were unable to score.

38 minutes into the first half:
After a stalemate between the two teams, it looked like the first half was going to end, but Teikyo University finally broke the deadlock.
After an infringement by Waseda University, the game resumed with a lineout in Teikyo University’s ball. Teikyo University secured the ball, and the lock YOON turned wide and scored a try right under the goal post.



The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Teikyo University made the score 14-0.

44 minutes into the first half:
Waseda University was infringed after a scrum broke down as they were entering enemy territory. Teikyo University’s SO INOUE tried to kick for touch deep into the enemy territory, but due to a control error, the ball did not go off the line.

Waseda University attempted a counter attack from here, and FB ITOH kicked two short punts, succeeding in re-gaining possession both times and quickly approaching the enemy goal post. Finally, Waseda’s No.8 MATSUNUMA picked up the ball and scored a try right under the enemy goal post.

With this try at the end of the first half, Waseda University cleared away the heavy mood of the game.

The place erupted in cheers at the try, and it was clear that about 70% of the crowd on that day were Waseda fans.

My impression after the first half was that Waseda University showed a lot of tenacity against Teikyo University, the university champion, unlike last season, and I was looking forward to the second half of this match.


Waseda University was pushed by Teikyo University in the scrums and suffered a disadvantage, but put on a show with dense battles and continuous attacks. against the disadvantage in the FW, Waseda tried to counter with their traditional style of play: “development,” “close,” and “continuous. What kind of play will Waseda show in the second half? Will Teikyo University be able to show their true strength in the second half?

Let’s get the second half underway.
5 minutes into the second half:
From the start of the second half, Teikyo put on heavy pressure with their scrums and steadily advanced their position deep into enemy territory. Here, Waseda’s speedy development allowed them to once again attack deep into the opponents’ territory, but a handling error allowed the ball to drop down, and Teikyo University’s WTB TAKAMOTO picked it up and scored a try right under the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 21-7. Waseda came within a whisker of scoring a try, but a handling error cost them dearly.

13 minutes into the second half:
It would be rude to say this was unexpected, but in this game Waseda was rarely easily overtaken by Teikyo defensively, and showed some tenacious attacking. Especially in this period, Waseda connected the ball one after another and showed a series of attacks typical of Waseda.
In the end, a lineout from the right side, which resulted from a foul by Teikyo, led to a maul, and Waseda moved the maul against the powerful Teikyo University FW to score a brilliant try in the middle of the right field. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 21-14, and Waseda was again within 7 points!



18 minutes into the second half:
Perhaps sensing Waseda’s momentum in terms of ball control, Teikyo opted for a rare PG when Teikyo had a chance deep in enemy territory following a foul by their opponents. Teikyo’s SO INOUE made a steady run to put Waseda ahead by 10 points, 24-14.

28 minutes into the second half:
The close match up to this time period gave the game a good sense of urgency, making it a match worth watching. Especially after Waseda got into the enemy’s territory, they broke through at key points. Waseda’s hooker SATOH broke free of a tackle deep in the enemy camp, made a big gain, and then made an exquisite pass to the lock MURATA in front of the goal, who despite being tackled, scored a persistent try in the left corner of the enemy in-goal. The crowd gave the Waseda players the loudest cheer of the day.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and the score was 24-21, Waseda was finally within 3 points.

34 minutes into the second half:
Toward the end of the match, Teikyo’s substitutes made a noticeable impact. Waseda was unable to stop the Teikyo attack, and in the end, Teikyo flanker Okui broke through the enemy defense and scored a try in the middle of the left field in-goal area. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 31-21 in favor of Teikyo.

Teikyo continued their momentum with another try at the end of the match, making the final score 36-21.
Although Waseda University was finally pushed aside in the end, Waseda University was able to play a closer game against Teikyo, the university champion, compared to last season, which gives us high expectations for future matches in the University Championships.

We look forward to another exciting match between the two teams at the University Championships in about a month’s time.

**********************

Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

*************************

RUGBY JERSEY – September 10, Japan vs Chili

Latin America: The Passion of Chile

(Written by Azul: November 1st, 2023)

On the fourth day of our stay in France, we welcomed the main event of this tour, the first match of the Japanese national rugby team. The day before, I had taken a late-night bus back home early in the morning, so I was a little sleep-deprived, but when I woke up in the morning, I was fired up to cheer for the Japanese team.

The route to the stadium (Stadium de Toulouse),

From Hotel Viktor Yugo, take a 5-minute walk to Jean-Jaureit station, then take the metro to Barriere de Paris station.

From there, we took a free shuttle bus to the stadium. It took about 40 minutes.

After getting off the bus, we walked about 2 km. On the way, there was a checkpoint and a scary-looking policeman was checking us. Actually, I wanted to bring my beloved camera, but it seems that cameras other than smartphones were not allowed, so all photos of this tour were taken with my iPhone SE.

After walking along a long straight road and crossing a bridge, we saw the stadium on our right.

This stadium, Stadium de Toulouse, is remembered by Japanese people as the stadium where the Japanese national soccer team played its first match against Argentina when it participated in the 1998 FIFA World Cup for the first time. It was also the stadium where Japan’s rugby team played its first match against Fiji in RWC 2007. In the past, the Japanese national soccer and rugby teams lost both of these matches. This time, the national rugby team will play two matches at this stadium and will also choose Toulouse as their base camp for the duration of the tournament. Will Japan be able to make history by winning a match at this stadium?

As soon as I arrived at the stadium, there was a problem when I tried to enter the stadium. To my surprise, the barcode on my ticket had already been used and I was not allowed to enter. I had come all the way from Japan to France, and now I would not be able to see the important match? For a moment, I panicked, but just to be sure, I printed out my ticket on paper, and the barcode was read without incident. Thank goodness.

The area around the stadium was already crowded with spectators 90 minutes before kickoff. Most of the spectators were from Japan and Chile, but there were also many local French spectators.

Now, let me introduce the national teams of the two countries that will be competing this day.

First, let us introduce the only first-time entrant in RWC 2023, Chile, nicknamed Los Condores, who will be making their first RWC appearance after defeating the United States in the RWC 2023 Americas Final.

At the start of the match, the team was ranked 22nd in the world. The starting lineup for Los Condores on this day was as follows.

Los Condores
No.NameheightweightageCaps
1Javier CARRASCO176cm114kg2619
2Diego ESCOBAR176cm103kg236
3Matias DITTUS181cm120kg3020
4Clemente SAAVEDRA191cm110kg2521
5Javier EISSMANN200cm118kg2520
6Martin SIGREN191cm103kg2724
7Raimundo MARTINEZ180cm102kg2310
8Alfonso ESCOBAR183cm101kg2617
9Marcelo TORREALBA170cm78kg2712
10Rodrigo FERNANDEZ184cm97kg2823
11Franco VELARDE177cm95kg2816
12Matias GARAFULIC184cm95kg2317
13Domingo SAAVEDRA181cm94kg2518
14Santiago VIDERALA179cm89kg241
15Inaki AYARZA186cm102kg2412

Los Condores won a close match in the RWC qualifying round, so if the match gets complicated until the end of the match, the upper-ranked Japanese team may be caught flat-footed.

And, above all, over 10,000 supporters from Chile came to watch the match, and their cheering will be a great help.

Next, I would like to introduce the Japanese national team, nicknamed the Brave Blossoms. At this point in time, Japan was ranked 12th in the world.

In the test match just before the start of the RWC, the team had a poor record of 1 win and 5 losses. More than 10,000 Japanese supporters came to the match venue to cheer on the Blossoms, which was as big as Chile’s. Since RWC2019 was held in their hometown, it was only natural that Japanese supporters would gather, but this was the first time that this many Japanese supporters gathered for a tournament held overseas. This shows the high expectations that Japanese people have for their home team. However, if the Brave Blossoms suffer a repeat of their previous disastrous defeats, they will lose their fans, so I hope the Brave Blossoms will show us a game with a lot of spirit.

Today’s starting lineup was as follows.

Brave Blossoms
No.NameheightweightageCaps
1Keita INAGAKI186cm116kg3350
2Atsushi SAKATE180cm104kg3038
3Ji-won GU183cm117kg2926
4Amanaki SAUMAKI189cm108kg262
5Amato FAKATAVA195cm118kg284
6Michael LEITCH189cm113kg3581
7Kanji SHIMOKAWA188cm105kg233
8Jack CORNELSEN195cm110kg2817
9Yutaka NAGARE166cm75kg3135
10Rikiya MATSUDA181cm92kg2934
11Jone NAIKABULA177cm95kg295
12Ryoto NAKAMURA182cm92kg3236
13Dylan RILEY187cm102kg2615
14Kotaro MATSUSHIMA178cm88kg3052
15Semisi MASIREWA181cm93kg316

And the game kicked off at 13:00 local time.

It was Los Condores who took the lead in this match.

The Brave Blossoms had a bad habit of scoring first in the most important game of the tournament.

Chili supporters seemed to have a cheer leader for each block of the stadium, and in our block, the person in the photo above was the leader. The Japanese cheering was limited to individual cheers, and there was no set cheering song, but the Chilean supporters were superior in their leadership.

The conversion goal after the try was also successful, and Chile took the lead 0-7.

Enthusiastic Chilean supporters. The amount of enthusiasm of the Chilean supporters was truly amazing. Chile is also a passionate Latin American country. However,the Brave Blossoms scored tries and conversion goals in the 8th, 30th, and 44th minutes of the first half, and the score was 21-7 at the end of the first half.

Can the Brave Blossoms continue to win against Los Condores as they are ranked in the world?

The Japanese national team seemed to have changed their defensive system since the test match before the start of the RWC. Instead of having a thick defensive perimeter around the densely packed field, they have changed to a single line of defense across the field. This left the defense right next to the scrums and rucks thin, which was repeatedly breached by the Los Condores halves.

Could Brave Blossoms fill this defensive hole?

The second half began.

It was again Los Condores who scored first in the second half.

8 minutes into the second half, Los Condores’ No. 8 ESCOBAR scored a try in the middle of the left field.

The conversion goal after the try failed, but the score was 21-12, and Los Condores was in the mood to catch up.

The Chilean supporters, who had been silent for some time, began to sing a chorus of cheering songs again.

The supporters stood up and began to sing loudly.

But it must be a good feeling to cheer this loudly. Personally, it reminded me of the first match of the Japanese national soccer team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. I

It is already a great feeling when your country participates in the dream stage of the World Cup for the first time and scores a point.

However, in the second half, Brave Blossoms scored three tries and a conversion goal in the 13th, 31st, and 39th minutes of the second half against a tiring Los Condores team, to win the match 42-12.

Los Condores lost, but left their mark in their first RWC appearance. They are expected to do well in the future.

I coudn’t hide my sadness at the thought that next day would be the end of my week-long tour of France. These were probably the most enjoyable days of my life so far.

But the RWC will be held again in four years, and I am looking forward to that.

Next time, if I can, I’d like to have enough funds to stay in the host city from start to finish…I’ll need about 2 million yen.

I’ll also buy a lottery ticket.

After the games, I went back to the city of Toulouse, but I noticed that many stores are not open on Sundays in France. It was so quiet that the liveliness of weekdays was a lie. However, in such a town, I found Mr. Tsuchida, the president of the Japan Rugby Football Union. He seemed to have come to watch the Japan national team’s game and to welcome with the Japanese supporters who had arrived in the area.

After staying in Toulouse for a few days, I found out that the price of a meal at a regular restaurant was quite expensive, but pizza was reasonable price.

Beer and pizza together cost only about 15 euros. It was almost the same price as eating in Japan.

I am sorry to leave Toulouse, but before going back to Japan, I dropped by Matabio station, which holds many memories for us.

Goodbye Toulouse, I will come again someday. Thank you for all the fun memories.

On September 12, the last day of my stay, I took a cab to Blagnac airport at 4:30 in the morning due to a change of departure time. The plane departed at 6:00 am. Of course, the sun had not yet risen. We arrived at CDG airport in Paris in a little over an hour.

The sun finally came up when we arrived in Paris. We had a long layover from here, and the Cathay Pacific Airlines flight from Paris to Hong Kong was scheduled to depart a little after 12;00. Since I had some spare time, I bought some souvenirs in the CDG airport.

Chocolates, which are typical Parisian souvenirs, cost 8 euros.

This is also a typical Parisian souvenir chocolate. 10 Euro.

A slightly smaller sized chocolate. 5 euros.

A classic Parisian souvenir. Macarons. 10 euros. The picture shows only the bag, but the macaroons that my daughter asked for were purchased at the duty free store in the airport and cost 40 euros. The difference in price is quite a big difference.

Now it is time to leave France for Japan. However, it was a long journey from here. Cathay Pacific Airlines is a Chinese airline, so they do not have an embargo on Russian oil, so the ticket was cheaper. Compared to Japanese and European airlines, tickets were 70,000 to 100,000 yen cheaper. Furthermore, the flight route went through the Chinese continent, so we flew over the Gobi Desert and the disputed Black Sea. Finally, we arrived at Hong Kong, our final transit point, at almost 7:00 a.m. the next day.

After two hours in Hong Kong, we departed for Japan at 9:00 a.m. We did not have much time to spare, but we were able to fly to the airport in Hong Kong. Although we did not have much time, we had a light meal at the Hong Kong airport.

Then, we boarded a plane from Hong Kong Airport to Narita, Japan, departing almost as scheduled. September is typhoon season in Japan, so we expected some accidents before departure, but we were happy to return home safely.

We arrived safely at Narita Airport in Japan at 14:30 on September 12, 2023. I would like to take my family to France next time as it gave me a lot of good memories.

Au Revoir,France.

**********************

Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

*************************

RUGBY JERSEY – September 9 England vs Argentina

Latin America: The Passion of the World

(Written by Azul: October 18,2023)

With the afterglow of the spectacular opening of the RWC 2023 in France the day before, we traveled from Toulouse to Marseille to watch England vs Argentina, the hot card of Group D. The distance was 319 km, so we took the train this time.

The photo above shows the Mataviot station in Toulouse, the gateway to the train.

We were a little happy to be on the famous French high-speed train, TGV, for the first time. However, the TGV does not run on a dedicated line like the Shinkansen in Japan, but on a conventional line, so it was not so fast. The maximum speed is said to be over 300 km/h, but the train we boarded was an older model, and it took 4 hours to travel 319 km, so the speed was on par with Japanese express trains.

Another difference from Japanese stations is that there were no ticket gates. We had obtained our tickets to Marseille in advance via the Internet, so there was a confirmation after we boarded the train. As Marseille neared, the sea came into view, and we were impressed by the view of the resort in the south of France, which we had longed for in the past.

At around 12:30, we arrived at Marseille, where the venue for today’s match, Stade de Marseille, is located.

Supporters from various countries were gathering at Saint-Charles station here in Marseille, as the RWC match was finally going to be held. Kick-off time is 21:00, so we decided to spend the time until the match starts by sightseeing in Marseille.

The Saint-Charles train station was opened in 1848 and has a history of more than 170 years. The history of Marseille is said to have begun with the opening of the port here around 600 B.C., making it a cosmopolitan city with a long history that predates the founding of France and even the Roman Empire.

Although it is now September, it is still summer. The temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius, and we were afraid of heat stroke if we stayed in the sun all day. So we walked toward the sea in the port city of Marseille.

Here in Marseille, not only the group league games but also the two final tournaments of RWC2023 will be held.

On the way to the port, we saw one of the tourist attractions of Marseille, the Arc de Triomphe (also known as the Aix Gate).

The Arc de Triomphe in Marseille was built in 1839, three years after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was constructed.

Then, on a small hill overlooking the harbor, I saw Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, another tourist attraction in Marseille.

We arrived at the port of Marseille after a 15-minute walk from the station. As expected of an international port town, three large cruise ships were docked there.

Since we were so close to the sea, we decided to join the landing tour on If Island, which is a standard sightseeing tour in Marseille. The price was 6 euros, which was a good deal considering the content of the tour. We were able to board the boat right away at the right time, and the boat departed at 13:30.

Marseille is indeed a port city. There was a rich international atmosphere.

There were many people in line, but the cabins were empty. Many tourists seemed to be enjoying the cruise on the deck of the ship.

We arrived at If Island in less than 30 minutes after boarding the ship.

This island is a prison island that was once used to incarcerate many political prisoners and was depicted as the setting of the novel “Le Conte de Monte Cristo” by the great writer Dumas.

And the Castle of If, located here, is the prison.

Walking through the prison, I found various types of prisons. Those with serious crimes were chained in rooms with almost no windows, and as their crimes became less serious, the windows for lighting became larger and larger. I imagine that it was difficult to escape from the prison because it was almost an isolated island in the middle of the sea.

The photo above shows a window of a prison cell of a political prisoner who was probably convicted of a serious crime. This is the only window.

The former prison island is now a standard tourist attraction and is visited by many tourists every day.

There was also a restaurant and souvenir store on If Island. I bought a folding umbrella here as a souvenir.

After the island tour, I returned to Marseille.

Around 3:00 p.m., I walked around the port of Marseille and found the RWC2023 Fun Zone.

There were RWC2023 commemorative goods, snacks, and beer for sale.

We also had a late lunch here. Beer was 10 euros and a dish of fried potatoes and meat was 5 euros. There were many supporters of Argentina and England, who had matches on that day.

It was great to come to France, cruise in Marseille, have a nice meal, and watch the RWC 2023 match.

Then, around 4:00 p.m., we decided to go to the stadium anyway.

In Marseille, I saw many Argentine supporters. I felt excited about the match.

It took about 10 minutes from Saint-Charles station in Marseille to the stadium by subway.

There were many supporters gathered around the stadium waiting for the game to start. The number of supporters was about the same between England and Argentina, but I was overwhelmed by the passion of the Argentine supporters. They sang everywhere around the venue, and it was just like an Argentine carnival.

** Rugby goods I bought in France 4 **

This is a commemorative scarf I bought at the official RWC2023 store in front of the stadium. I am not sure if my memory is correct, but I think it cost 39 euros. It has the date of the match and the opposing country woven into it.

Finally, 90 minutes before kickoff, we were able to enter the stadium.

Stade de Marseille is the second largest stadium in the tournament with a capacity of 67,847. I bought my ticket on a resale site, and since I had no other choice, I bought a category 1 ticket, which cost 300 euros. Good seats indeed.

There was an English TV crew in front of our seats, talking with the English players.

Kick-off time was approaching. As of September 9, the day of the match, the England team was ranked 8th in the world. The Argentine national team was ranked 6th in the world, and the pre-match prediction on sports TV was in favor of Argentina. In the most recent test match, Argentina beat England by a narrow margin. In addition, England captain Farrell was suspended for the big match after being shown a red card for a foul in the match before the RWC 2023 began.

This is a very tough situation for the England team.

The following is the starting member of England.

England
No.NameheightweightageCaps
1Ellice Genge186cm120kg2853
2Jamie GEORGE181cm108kg3278
3Dan COLE188cm123kg36103
4Maro ITOJE195cm115kg2868
5Ollie CHESSUM200cm118kg2316
6Courtney LAWES201cm115kg28101
7Tom CURRY185cm110kg2546
8Ben EARL186cm102kg2523
9Alex MITCHELL180cm80kg268
10George FORD178cm84kg3085
11Elliot DALY179cm83kg3060
12Manu TUILAGI179cm83kg3254
13Joe MARCHANT183cm89kg2716
14Jonny MAY187cm90kg3373
15Freddie STEWARD196cm107kg2219

The two countries also met in RWC 2019, with England winning outright. Will Argentina be humiliated?

Argentina will be looking for revenge after being eliminated from the qualifying pool in the last tournament.

The following is the starting member of Argentina.

Argentina
No.NameheightweightageCaps
1Thomas Gallo176cm105kg2418
2Julián Montoya183cm113kg3164
3Francisco Gomez Kodela184cm121kg3832
4Matias Alemanno198cm113kg3166
5Tomas Lavanini201cm130kg3057
6Pablo Matera193cm98kg3096
7Marcos Kremer195cm114kg2633
8Juan Martin Gonzalez191m101kg2225
9Gonzalo Bertranou174m72kg2951
10Santiago Carreras183cm88kg2513
11Mateo Carreras173cm84kg2311
12Santiago Chocobares188cm95kg2415
13Lucio Cinti190cm90kg231
14Emiliano Boffelli192cm94kg2841
15Juan Cruz Mallia182cm88kg2715

The game kicked off at 21:00.

3 minutes into the first half, England flanker CURRY was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle and was sent off. This meant that England was outnumbered for most of the match. Argentina’s supporters suddenly became very enthusiastic and started cheering loudly. At this point, the situation was the exact opposite of the previous tournament, and I predicted a big win for Argentina.

The England standoff for this match was George Ford. This player, who was mainly a reserve under the previous coach, was chosen to be England’s leader under the new coach. When he saw that Argentina’s defense was strong, he switched to a tactic of kicking instead of aiming for tries, and scored one PG and three DGs in a row in the first half, pulling the game into England’s favor at once.

Ford’s 3 DGs in the first half were a god-like performance that will go down in the history of the World Cup. I had never seen such a game before.

PG success in the first 10 minutes.

Successful DGs in the 27th, 31st, and 37th minutes of the first half. One of them was scored from near the halfway point of the ground, and I wondered if Ford, and England, had a goddess of victory on their side.

The England supporters could no longer stop screaming. Until the first 10 minutes of the first half, the venue was a place of celebration for Argentine supporters, but England’s SO Ford’s performance silenced them.

The first half ended with England leading by a score of 12-3. As expected, DGs have a great talent. It is a very difficult move, and the crowd cheered loudly when it was executed.

In the second half, Argentina took advantage of having one more player, and could they make a comeback?

The second half began, but Argentina fell prey to England’s tactics and repeatedly committed infractions in enemy territory. PGs in the 6th, 14th, 19th, 26th, and 35th minutes of the second half finally made the score 27-3, and the game was deadlocked.

The English supporters, who had looked like bitches at the start of the match, looked back at the Argentine supporters and said, “Look at us, we’ve won the game!

The hero of the day, England’s SO George. Ford. It was a godlike performance.

In the end, Argentina showed their determination by scoring one try at the end of the match, but it was no more than a stone’s throw. Before the end of the match, many Argentine supporters left their seats and went home.

England supporters were happy to see the match end. This match was said to be the biggest climax of Pool D, so England got a step ahead to advance to the final tournament.

When the game ended at 23:00, we rushed back to Saint-Charles station. It was very difficult to get on the train because more than 60,000 spectators were concentrated at the metro station. We had originally planned to stay overnight in Marseille after the match, but we had to give up the plan because the hotel price in Marseille had risen to seven times the price of the original plan. Therefore, we decided to take a late night bus back to Toulouse.

The price was 670 euros per night if we stayed in Marseille, but it was only 60 euros per night if we took the midnight bus.

After returning to the hotel, I had a good night’s sleep, and finally I was going to watch a game of the Japanese national team.

**Rugby goods I bought in France 5 **

I bought this T-shirt at the department store in front of the stadium in Marseille. It was 35 euros. It is not an official product of RWC2023, but I liked the design, so I bought it.

**********************

Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

*************************

RUGBY JERSEY – September 8, RWC 2023 begins

(Written by AZUL: September 29, 2023)

September 8, our second day in France, marked the opening day of RWC2023. We stayed in France from September 7 to 11, and would have loved to watch the opening match on September 8 (France vs. New Zealand) if we could get tickets in advance. However, they were not on sale on the ticket resale website. It is no wonder, since this is a very popular and favorable card along with the final and semi-final matches. However, I thought that Toulouse, one of the host cities of RWC 2023, should at least have a public viewing event, so I asked at a fan zone in the city, and was told that it would be held on this night.

The staff advised us to arrive two hours before kickoff.

The photo above shows the SERGE BLANCO store in Toulouse, where the French heroes of RWC 1987 now have their own fashion brand.

Before watching the opening match this evening, we went to visit Carcassonne, a World Heritage Site located near Toulouse. The tour leaves at 9:30 AM and returns at 5:30 PM.

We boarded the Carcassonne tour bus on a wide street about a 5-minute walk from our hotel. The trip to Carcassonne took about 2 hours. The price of this tour varied from about 60 euros for the round-trip bus fare and entrance ticket, which we used, to a more expensive 500 euros for a tour of Carcassonne with a personal guide. Personally, I was satisfied with the €60 tour.

In the morning, we arrived at our destination.

Oh, the old castle of Carcassonne came into view. Carcassonne, a World Heritage Site, is one of the largest fortresses in Europe, and the first fortification was built in the 3rd century BC.

The site where this fortress was built has long been a strategic point for transportation between the Iberian Peninsula and European countries, and in the Middle Ages, it served as a base for the crusades sent by the Pope.

After the border with Spain shifted to the west in the 17th century and the site lost its significance as a fortress, it declined and was abandoned in the 19th century.

However, the historical value of the site was later recognized and it was restored to its present form.

It is said to be the No. 2 most popular World Heritage site in France, following Mont Saint-Michel. The town surrounding the fortress also retains its medieval atmosphere, and it was a wonderful sight to see such a thing for a tour price of 60 euros.

The walls of this Carcassonne fortress are 3 km long and even double in length.

There are 52 towers within the fortress, and although we were not able to see all of them, we were amazed at the majesty of the towers even inside the fortress.

Before coming here, I thought I would have too much time on my hands, as I was told that the bus would leave at 11:30 a.m. at the bus stop by the fort and that the return bus would meet at 3:30 p.m. However, if I wanted to see every nook and cranny of this fort, from the outer to the inner walls, I would be a little short on time.

This building is the Basilique St-Nazaire, located inside the ramparts. The interior is a magnificent, faithfully reconstructed medieval site.

Since we had to have lunch and buy souvenirs in the four hours allotted to us, we gave up trying to go around the entire perimeter. If you really want to enjoy this facility to the fullest, you may stay overnight at the hotel inside the facility.

At almost 1:00 p.m., we finally finished visiting the tower, so we went to the restaurant inside the facility to have a meal. I ordered the following

*Caesar salad

*Cheese platter

*Cassoulet (a local dish of Occitanie)

*Red wine

The photo above is the cheese platter. I forgot to take a picture of the cassoulet. The cassoulet was indeed delicious, but the quantity was so large that I was the only one who finished it in my group.

(The basic ingredients are white beans, pork, duck, and sausage. It is very tasty, as long as you don’t make a mistake with the quantity. Many of the tourists around us also ordered cassoulet.

It is often said about famous tourist attractions that “don’t die without seeing Carcassonne”.

*Souvenirs I bought in France 1*

This is a scarf and clasp I bought at a store in Carcassonne. I bought the one with the Crusader emblem on the right for 49 euros.

** Rugby goods I bought in France, part 3 **

I bought these rugby goods at a store in Carcassonne. I fell in love with the design at first sight and bought it. The brand name “RUCK FIELD” is a French brand. Sebastian CHABAL on the box is a player who played as a lock for France in RWC 2007. He is said to have broken a player of the opposing team’s arm with a single shot by making a tremendous tackle. The price was reasonable at 60 euros, but the watch is water resistant to 10 atmospheres, tough and will last for a long time.

After ending our tour of Carcassonne on time, we returned to Toulouse. We were 15 minutes past the scheduled time, but since we had checked the venue for the public viewing the day before, we arrived one hour before kickoff.

The venue was a special site set up in the vicinity of Pont Neuf, a famous tourist attraction. The photo shows the Garonne River, which flows through the city. By the time we arrived, there were quite a few spectators. To our surprise, the security check was so strict that all the beverages we brought in our backpacks had to be disposed of on the spot. This check was conducted by police officers, not volunteer staff, and their faces were frightening. When we arrived, there were about 10,000 people in the area.

We set up in this area. At this point (around 18:00), it was still empty, but by the end of the day, over 40,000 spectators had gathered. The French people’s expectations for their first RWC victory were evident.

Before the games began, everyone was talking peacefully among friends. Things gradually heated up around the time of the opening ceremony.

Many people gathered, and remembering the crushing deaths that occurred in Korea, I felt in danger, so we moved from the center part of the event to the side of the river.

I was surprised by the speech of the guest of honor at the opening ceremony. When President Macron started to speak, there was a loud booing at the stadium in Paris and at the venue here. In a sense, it can be said that the public has a strong interest in their domestic politics.

The opening match of this tournament is France vs. New Zealand, a strong team that has played in several finals in the past.

Past opening card results, as researched, are as follows

RWC 1987: NZ vs Italy ~70-6

RWC1991: England vs NZ ~ 12-18

RWC1995: South Africa vs Australia ~ 27-18

RWC1999: Wales vs Argentina ~ 23-18

RWC2003: Australia vs Argentina~ 24-8

RWC2007: France vs Argentina~ 12-17

RWC2011: NZ vs Tonga~ 41-10

RWC2015: England vs Fiji ~ 35-11

RWC2019: Japan vs Russia – 30-10

(In the matchup combinations in the data above, the left side indicates the host nation.)

The opening match of RWC2023 will be between the top-ranked nations in the world ranking, and the French nation will be on a high from September 8.

The starting members lineup for the opening match is as follows.

First, the All Blacks, representing New Zealand in the Visitor Team.

All Blacks
No.NameheightweightageNZ Caps
1Ethan de GROOT190cm122kg2517
2Codie TAYLOR183cm108kg3280
3Nepo LAULALA184cm116kg3150
4Samuel WHITELOCK202cm117kg34146
5Scott BARRETT197cm112kg2962
6Tupou VA’AI198cm118kg2322
7Dalton PAPAL’I193cm113kg2526
8Ardie SAVEA190m99kg2975
9Aaron SMITH171m83kg34119
10Richie MO’UNGA176cm83kg2949
11Mark TELEA186cm94kg265
12Anton LIENERT-BROWN185cm96kg2863
13Rieko IOANE189cm103kg2663
14Will JORDAN188cm94kg2525
15Beauden BARRETT187cm91kg32116

The All Blacks have never lost a qualifying pool match in the RWC, and are coming into RWC 2023 on a high condition after winning the Southern Hemisphere RWC just prior to the RWC.

The image above is a reflection of the front screen from where we were sitting. At this point, the crowd was still small and we were able to sit and watch the game.

The starting lineup for the French national team, Les Bleus, who will be the home team for the opening match, is as follows.

France
No.NameheightweightageFrance Caps
1Reda Wardi185cm110kg2410
2Julien MARCHAND181cm110kg2832
3Uini ATONIO196cm145kg3354
4Cameron WOKI196cm109kg2423
5Thibaud FLAMENT203cm116kg2620
6Francois CROS190cm111kg2935
7Charles OLLIVON199cm114kg3023
8Gregory ALDRITT191m113kg2643
9Antoine DUPONT174m85kg2650
10 Matthieu JALIBERT184cm84kg2826
11Gaban VILIERE180cm88kg2715
12 Yoram MOEFANA182cm97kg2319
13Gael FICKOU190cm100kg2982
14Damian PENAUD189cm96kg2645
15Thomas RAMOS178cm87kg2828

Can the French Rugby team, the host nation of RWC 2023, break the All Blacks’ undefeated record in the qualifying pool?

The pre-match predictions were slightly in favor of the All Blacks. However, the expectations of the home country for the French national team this time around are high. In the previous RWC 2019, the French national team received dismal reviews. Many media outlets in the home country were said to have not booked hotels for coverage during the final tournament, assuming that the French national team would be eliminated in the qualifying pool. The team then went on to strengthen for the RWC 2023 to be held in their hometown, and was ranked No. 4 in the world.

If you compare the two photos above, you can see that the crowd was growing quickly at the venue in Toulouse.

Then, the match started.

First half:

It was All Blacks who scored the first goal. In 2 minute of the first half, a kick pass from FB BARRETT was held by young WTB TELEA, and he scored a try easily. On the other hand, Les Bleus also drew a foul on All Blacks in enemy territory, and FB RAMOS scored PGs in the 5th, 20th, and 29th minutes of the first half, giving Les Bleus a one-point lead, 9-8.

At the end of the first half, it was completely nighttime. The Public Viewing venue in Toulouse was already so packed that it was impossible to watch the game without standing. At this point, no new visitors were allowed to enter.

The second half began.

Second Half:

3 minutes into the second half, the All Blacks scored another try. The try was scored by WTB TELEA, who also scored the first try in the first half.

Les Blues scored in small increments, but it was not until the 33rd minute of the second half that Les Blue

3 minutes into the second half, the All Blacks scored another try. The try was scored by WTB TELEA, who also scored the first try in the first half.

The game was a tense affair with Les Blues leading by 6 points until the 33rd minute of the second half, when Les Blues scored two more tries. For the French people, this was a great way to end the opening match of the RWC 2023.

After the opening match, if both teams win all their subsequent matches, they will play each other again in the final. Which team will advance to the finals? The final will be held on October 28.

**********************

Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

*************************

RUGBY JERSEY – Now to France!

(Written by AZUL: September 18, 2023)

Finally, I am leaving for the RWC2023 tour. My tour this time was a one-week tour, departing on September 6 and returning on September 12. I was so excited that I could not sleep well the day before.

On September 6, I left my house in Hachioji City around 9:00 a.m. and took the Keisei Skyliner from Nippori Station in the Tokyo metropolitan area to Narita Airport.

This is a transfer from the JR line to the Keisei line. There are two options to get to Narita Airport, the Narita Express and the Keisei Skyliner, but I chose the Skyliner because it has more arrivals and departures and is less expensive.

The Skyliner can be booked in advance, but since it was during the daytime on a weekday, I was able to board without a reservation. The one-way fare from Nippori to Narita Airport Terminal 2 was about 2,500 yen.

The time required is about 40 minutes. The boarding rate was about 50%. It was empty. We arrived at Narita Airport at exactly 12:00 pm.

The departure time was 5:15 p.m., so I had enough time to go to the check-in counter of Cathay Pacific to complete the procedures.

However, the (first) accident occurred here. Our flight was to take the route Narita→Hong Kong→Paris→Toulouse, but our departure flight was delayed and our flight to Hong Kong was delayed by one hour, departing at 18:45. According to our schedule, we had less than two hours to connect to the flight to Paris, so we might not be able to connect. Worst case scenario, we would have to wait a day in Hong Kong. Well, this kind of accident is always a part of airplane tours, but I was a little disappointed when it happened from the beginning.

Since we are going through Hong Kong, I bought some goods of Hong Kong origin. 2023 is the 50th anniversary of the death of Bruce Lee, the movie star who was born in Hong Kong.

Bruce Lee commemorative goods 1: T-shirt A:

A: A T-shirt starring Bruce Lee, who starred in the 1970’s worldwide hit movie “Enter the dragon,” was made at the young age of 32.

In 2023, the 50th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s death, a commemorative product was released, and I bought it at Amazon for 2,300 yen.

Bruce Lee commemorative goods 2 T-shirt B:

Bruce Lee is known for his double nunchucks. I will never forget the scene in the movie “Way of the Dragon” where Bruce Lee uses two nunchucks in all directions to knock down his enemies. I bought a pair of nunchucks made of urethane for practice. They are soft, so they don’t hurt too much when they hit me. I practice with them every day while watching videos. It’s only been two weeks, but I bought them at Yahoo Shopping for 2,500 yen.

Finally, our plane arrived at 6:00 p.m. This Cathay Pacific plane was the first one we had flown on.

The Cathay Pacific flight left Narita Airport around 19:00 and arrived in Hong Kong at 23:00. The time difference with Hong Kong is 1 hour, so the flight took 5 hours. There were many people connecting to Paris, so the airport staff led us on a short run to make the connection.

As a result, the connecting time in Hong Kong was less than 30 minutes, and we were able to board a flight to Paris. The flight to Paris departed from Hong Kong with a 30-minute delay.

On the plane, I was reading a special magazine on RWC2023 that had just been released to pass the time.

There are only two days left until the opening of RWC2023.

After a 14-hour flight from Hong Kong to Paris by Cathay Pacific, I finally arrived at Paris CDG airport. The date was 9/7 at this point.

Since France adopts daylight saving time, it is one hour earlier than Japan, and it is early in the morning when the sun is beginning to shine. Since this was my first time to land in Europe, I was a little impressed.

I could see RWC2023 billboards all over the airport. However, the airport staff did not understand me when I said “World Cup,” and I had to say “coupe de monde” to be understood. Well, it is a French-speaking country, of course.

I arrived at the airport at 7:00 a.m. and went through the immigration formalities easily in about 15 minutes, but I had to wait for 5 hours at the airport because my domestic flight to Toulouse was scheduled to depart at 12:00 p.m. If I had 5 hours, I could have taken the TGV from Paris to Toulouse, and it was the day before the opening of RWC 2023. So, I saw many supporters wearing uniforms of each country in the airport.

While I was waiting, I had breakfast at a coffee shop in the airport. Cheesecake and cafe au lait. The price was about 4 euros. I did not feel that this store was so expensive, but prices in France are higher than in Japan. As an example, a 500 ml bottle of mineral water costs less than 1 euro in Japan, but in France, it costs 3 euros.

While I was waiting for my connecting flight, I found some RWC2023 goods at a store in the airport and bought them without a second thought.

** Rugby goods I bought in France, part 1 **

It was a RWC2023 commemorative cap, a standard item for rugby fans. 35 euros. The price was 35 euros. The price was the same as that of the Japan tournament.

And while I was walking around the airport, this store caught my eye.

Yes, macaroons. My daughter had asked me to make sure to buy her the most expensive macarons as a souvenir from France, so I bought one and tasted it. They were delicious, but I was surprised at the high price of such a small pastry, which cost 4 euros each. If I buy a box (one dozen), which my daughter has asked me to do, it will cost 48 euros. We decided to buy it just before we boarded the plane back home.

At 12:00 local time, the French domestic flight to Toulouse finally departed.

No, it was crowded. Among the passengers were supporters wearing uniforms of Chile, Japan’s opponent. I felt the match was getting closer and I was happy.

From Paris CDG airport to Toulouse-Blagnac airport took 70 minutes. Since I had been on the plane for 14 hours before that, I felt that I arrived at Toulouse in a flash. However, it is 25 hours from Narita Airport to here, so it is quite a long trip.

And when I went to the counter to pick up my luggage, my luggage flowed safely. Before departure, I was thankful to the airport staff because I thought my luggage would be delayed for several days since I had two connecting flights and furthermore, the connection from Hong Kong to Paris was made in a great hurry.

Before departure, we put about 20 blue stickers on the trunk to identify it.

From here, we took the airport bus to the center of Toulouse. The fare was 9 euros and it took about 20 minutes.

Oh, here we are at last, to Toulouse. The picture above is Mataviot station. From here to our hotel was a 7-8 minute walk.

In front of the station, there was a monument for RWC2023. We stayed at the Hotel Victor-Hugo. It was reasonably priced, located in the center of town, and very convenient for dining, walking, etc. I would like to stay there again next time I visit Toulouse.

I was so greedy and had so many things planned for this tour that I spent the first day sightseeing by bus in the city without time to recover from jet lag.

The city bus tour of Toulouse takes about 70 minutes. The bus tour runs twice a day. We took the 16:30 departure. There was a radio with Japanese commentary, so we could understand the contents well. The fare was 9 euros. Participating in a city tour like this on the first day of the tour saves time later on, as you can get all the necessary information as soon as possible.

In Toulouse, the Japanese national team has set up a base camp and will play two matches here.

9/10 vs Chile

9/28 vs Samoa

After the city tour, we took a walk around Toulouse.

Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, located in southwestern France. With a population of approximately 470,000, it is about the same size in population as Hachioji City in Tokyo, where I live.

It is home to Airbus, a world-renowned aircraft manufacturer. Also, walking around the city, you will see a very large and lively population of young people. There are many universities in Toulouse, and it is said that about 25% of the total population are university students.

This is a typical French cobblestone street with a European feel. As I was walking here, I was a little put off by the model-like beauties strutting from in front of me and behind me.

This area is also the most active rugby area in France and is home to Stade Toulousan, a prestigious French professional rugby team. Antoine Dupont, the captain of the French national team, is also a member of this club.

** Rugby goods I bought in France, No.2  **

I bought this backpack with the club crest at Stade Toulousan in Toulouse. I liked it at first sight and bought it. The price was 49 euros. The price was almost the same compared to similar goods in Japan.

** How to participate in the RWC tour  **

After watching the RWC on site for two consecutive tournaments in 2019 and 2023, what I used to think of as a “tour for rich people” became something closer to home when I actually went myself.

1. Obtaining tickets

The first hurdle is the ticket. At the time of the simultaneous sales, I waited for about two hours late at night and was finally able to access the website, but still could not purchase the ticket I wanted. The site I accessed at that time was in French, and I could not understand the meaning well, so I could not put the tickets in the shopping cart and could not make the payment.

I gave up on going on the tour at this point.

I decided to go on the tour this time because the tickets were available a year ago through the Asahi Beer sweepstakes.

The next convention will be in Australia, so the purchase site will be in English, so I think we can make it work.

The RWC2023 ticket resale site will also be in English, so it was easy to purchase, but it will not be available until one month before the start of the tournament.

2. Tour costs

Travel costs are more expensive if you do not get tickets in advance. This time, I arranged round-trip airfare and hotel reservations (4 nights) by myself, and the cost was only 300,000 yen. A tour arranged by a major Japanese travel agency would have cost twice as much.

3. Fundraising

When I go to watch the RWC, I feel that in Japan, it is a tour for adults who have reached a certain age, but overseas, people come to the stadium with their families, including their own children. Overseas fans seem to look forward to going on these tours every time.

In order to enjoy these tours, you need to plan ahead and save your money. In my case, I planned to save 500 yen (about 3 euros) per day to attend the next tour after RWC 2019 is over. since RWC is held every four years, I can prepare 730,500 yen (4,383 euros) over four years (= 1461 days). With this amount of money, you can make a trip of about 2 weeks if you work it out.

In the next issue, I will report on the RWC2023 tour in France after the second day.

**********************

Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

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RUGBY JERSEY – The Road to RWC 2023

(Written by AZUL: August 20, 2023)

Finally, RWC2023 will be held in France starting September 8, 2023.

At first, I thought I would be watching the games on TV at home in Japan, but when I entered a sweepstakes sponsored by Asahi Beer, I was lucky enough to win tickets to the RWC2023 match between Japan and Chile in October 2022, and I will be going to France.

I was delighted to win, but in the end, I only get one ticket for one match in the sweepstakes. The price is about 20,000 yen for two people, so about 40,000 yen.

And the tour for winners of the match tickets prepared by a travel agency, shown in the picture above, is absurdly expensive. Without tickets, they arrive in France two days before the match, stay three nights, and come back, but it costs about 600,000 yen. Too expensive for a ticket. And I checked by myself. If I booked the airline ticket and hotel (4 nights) by myself, it cost only 300,000 yen. Hey, travel agencies must be making too much money.

This time, I will stay in Toulouse, which is located in the south of France. It is not shown on the map above, but it is near Montpellier.

The photo above is of the center of Toulouse. The Japanese national team’s camp site will also be set up in Toulouse, and my expectations are high.

When I won the ticket for 2022, I was worried that I would not be able to go to France because of the uncertainty about the new Corona response, but I am glad that the situation has improved.

The availability of tickets for RWC2023 improved dramatically in this August.

Until July 2023, tickets for RWC2023 were almost nonexistent on the resale market, but as of August 10, tickets for most matches are available at fixed prices. If I had known this was going to happen, I would not have had to pay two to three times the normal price for an expensive tour.

I will be going on this tour to France with a friend, and since we have some time left in our schedule, we have decided to watch one more game on September 10. The other match is England vs. Argentina. The venue is Marseille.

The ticket I bought is a Category 1 ticket for England vs. Argentina. The price was 300 euros per ticket. I looked for a hotel in Marseille, but the price was seven times higher than a week ago, so I decided to give up my stay in Marseille and take an express bus back to Toulouse at night.

Let us check the current world ranking of rugby by country.

World Ranking2023.9.2
1Ireland
2South Africa
3France
4New Zealand
5Scotland
6Argentina
7Fiji
8England
9Australia
10Wales
11Georgia
12Samoa
13Italy
14Japan
15Tonga
16Portugal
17Uruguay
19Romania
21Namibia
22Chile

Compared to the previous tournament, the gap between the top and the bottom seems to have narrowed. This raises expectations that we will see many more heated games when the tournament begins.

The preliminary pool pairings for this year’s RWC2023 are as follows

Pool A:

New Zealand (4th)

France (3rd)

Italy (13th)

Uruguay (17th)

Namibia (21st)

Pool B:

South Africa (2nd)

Ireland (1st)

Scotland (5th)

Tonga (15th)

Romania (19th)

Pool C:

Wales (10th)

Australia (9th)

Fiji (7th)

Georgia (11th)

Portugal (16th)

Pool D:

England (8th)

Japan (14th)

Argentina (6th)

Samoa (12th)

Chile (22nd)

Let’s take a look at the participating countries in Pool D, the qualifying round to which the Japanese team will belong.

First, let us introduce the participating countries.

England (World Ranking=8th):

The runner-up of the last RWC, England has one championship and three runner-up finishes in the RWC, a record befitting the home country of rugby. However, even such a powerful nation has suffered a bitter defeat in the qualifying pool of the RWC 2015, which was held in their home country. This year’s national team, as indicated by its current world ranking, has been a lost cause. In the last test match, the team suffered its first ever defeat against Fiji. It also hurts too much that the team’s mainstays, SO Farell and No.8 Vunipola, were shown red cards in the matches just before the start of RWC2023, and are unable to play in the first and second RWC2023 matches against Argentina and Japan, respectively.

Argentina (World Ranking #6):

Nicknamed Los Pumas, Argentina is a strong team representing South America, and has made the most progress in the RWC in recent years, finishing 3rd in 2007 and 4th in 2015. They are expected to finish first in Pool D this time as well, having defeated a number of top-ranked teams in their previous test matches. Their first match against England will be the most difficult of Pool D.

Japan (World Ranking: 14th):

Japan made a breakthrough at the last RWC 2019, finishing in the top eight, and is expected to make another leap forward at RWC 2023, but they have lost their last six test matches, winning one and losing five, and have finally fallen to 14th in the world rankings. Hopefully, Japan’s performance in the previous tournament was also dismal, as the team’s last test match was a disaster. In other words, Japan’s national team is strong in the competition, but their performance is not good enough. The only way to change this reputation is to achieve a great result in the real tournament.

SAMOA (12th in the world ranking):

This team has made a dramatic leap forward this season, benefiting from the recent revision of the World Rugby National Team rules and their success in strengthening through participation in Super Rugby, the world’s strongest league. In their most recent test match, they defeated Japan’s national team, and then went on to play Ireland, ranked No. 1 in the world, with a close score, albeit with a loss. With their best finish in recent years, it would not be surprising to see them reach their first final tournament since 1995.

Chili (World Ranking: 22nd)

Chili is making its first appearance in this year’s tournament, having qualified for the RWC 2023 qualifiers by defeating North American powerhouses United States and Canada. The team, nicknamed Los Condores, will be joined in the tournament by Argentina and Uruguay, in addition to Chile, and is expected to be a breakthrough for rugby in South America. What kind of rugby will they show us?

Let’s get ready for the RWC2023 France!

**********************

Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

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RUGBY JERSEY – Japan national rugby team training match

BRAVE BLOSSOMS vs FIJI

(Written by AZUL: August 16, 2023)

This was the fifth match of the Japan national rugby team’s training programme before the start of the RWC 2023 in France. The opponents for this match were the powerful FIJI national team, who are ranked 10th in the world. The Japanese national team is currently ranked 14th in the world, so this was a match against a superior team.

The Japanese national team’s results so far this season were as follows

Round 1 (8 July) – VS ALL BLACKS XV: 6-38 ●

Round 2 (15 Jul) – VS ALL BLACKS XV: 27-41 ●

Round 3 (22 July) – VS SAMOA: 22-24 ●

Round 4 (29 July) – VS TONGA: 21-16 ○

The Japanese national team’s record so far has been poor, with one win and three losses. Finally, in the fifth round, the Japanese team got their first win over the Tongan team. Can the Japanese national team win their final domestic match?

A packed house of 22,137 spectators gathered at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground to cheer on the Japan national team. The daytime temperature was a killer 35°C, but it was a night game. Nevertheless, by kick-off the temperature had dropped to 28°C, making it somewhat more comfortable for the spectators.

Before the match, the national team players who were not playing in the day’s game held a rugby class at the venue for children selected by lottery as a fan service.

The Test match ceremony was held before the day’s kick-off.

Following the national anthems of the two opposing nations, a pre-match War Cry, typical of the Pacific nations in the Southern Hemisphere, was performed – in Fiji’s case, CIBI.

It really set the mood before the decisive battle.

Here is the latest information on the two teams that played on the day.

First of all, let me introduce the Visitor Team, the Fiji national team.

The FIJI team has achieved top 8 results in two RWC tournaments, RWC 1987 and RWC 2007. The FIJI team has also won the world’s highest number of 7-a-side rugby championships, including the Olympic Games. The Fijian Dodgers are known for their transformational style of play, which has earned them the nickname ‘Fijian Magic’, with all players, including the FWs, making decisive runs to enthrall spectators, both friend and foe alike.

From 2022, Fiji will compete in Super Rugby, the world’s strongest league, as Fijian Doulua, giving Fiji players the opportunity to practise at a high level and raise the level of their national team’s ability.

Today’s starting line-up is as follows.

Fiji
No.NameheightweightageFiji Caps
1ERONI MAWI185cm130kg2721
2SAMUEL MATAVESI188cm110kg3123
3LUKE TAGI181cm139kg265
4ALBERT TUISUE188cm112kg3016
5TEMO MAYANAVANUA196cm120kg259
6LEKIMA TAGITAGIVALU194cm108kg272
7KITIONE KAMIKAMICA189cm109kg275
8MELI DERENALAGI193m110kg242
9SIMIONE KURUVOLI174m80kg244
10BEN VOLAVOLA191cm95kg3244
11SELESITINO RAVUTAUMADA183cm99kg233
12VILIMONI BOTITU180cm97kg258
13WAISEA NAYACALEVU194cm105kg3337
14JIUTA WAINIQOLO186cm90kg245
15SIRELI MAQALA165cm86kg232

** Player to watch **

BEN VOLAVOLA. 191 cm, 95 kg, 32 years old. Position = SO. has been in command of the Fiji national team for three consecutive World Cups, RWC 2015, 2019 and 2023. His long-range kicking from his height is a powerful weapon for the Fiji team. He is also an excellent offensive and defensive player with long passes, big steps, hard tackles and offload passes using his size to his advantage.

Next, we would like to update you on the Japan national team Brave Blossoms.

Although the team has been losing in training matches since July, they have been steadily strengthening on the defensive side of the field. However, there are few opportunities to see the attack using the whole ground, which is a weapon of the Japan national team. Also, several of the main players have been injured and their recovery

Today’s starting line-up is as follows.

Brave Blossoms
No.NameheightweightageJapan Caps
1Keita INAGAKI186cm116kg3348
2Atsushi SAKATE180cm104kg3036
3Asaeli Ai VALU187cm115kg3425
4James MOORE195cm110kg3016
5Amato FAKATAVA195cm118kg283
6Jack CORNELSEN195cm110kg2815
7Pieter LABUSCHAGNE189cm106kg3416
8Kazuki HIMENO187cm108kg2828
9Naoto SAITO165cm73kg2614
10Rikiya MATSUDA181cm92kg2932
11Jone NAIKABULA177cm95kg293
12Tomoki OSADA179cm90kg233
13Dylan RILEY187cm102kg2613
14Semisi MASIREWA181cm93kg314
15Kotaro MATSUSHIMA178cm88kg3050

** Player to watch **

Jone NAIKABULA. 177 cm, 95 kg, 29 years old. Position = WTB. team = Toshiba Brave Lupas. from Fiji. A new addition to the national team this season, he was selected for the 7-man Japan national team for the Tokyo Olympics and is an outstanding try-getter and decisive player. He has also saved the team from danger on numerous occasions as a last resort when opponents have slipped behind their defensive nets. Having been used in consecutive starts for Japan, he is gradually fitting into the Japan team and is expected to play more and more for RWC 2023.

Now, let the match begin. The kick-off time for the day was 19:16.

Fiji, in past RWC matches, have always gone all out from the start of the game and attacked, so for Japan team the key to the game will be how far they can be held back.

4 minutes into the first half:

Japan kicked off to start the game. The kicker is WTB MASIREWA, as both WTBs of the Japanese national team are from Fiji and are thought to have strong feelings for their home country for this match.

After the kick-off, the Japanese team pushed hard to get in front of the opposition in-goal, but the high defensive ability of Fiji’s players prevented them from scoring a try. In a densely contested battle, Fiji team won the ball back and CTB NAYACALEVU got behind the Japanese defence and, using his running ability, ran through the enemy line to score the first try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 0-7.

7 minutes into the first half:

During an attack by the Fiji team, Japan’s flanker LABUSCHAGNE commits an infringement by hitting an opponent head first and is sent off with a red card. This meant that the national team had to play with 14 players until the end of the game, one less than their opponents, for the first seven minutes of the first half. LABUSCHAGNE will also be suspended for the next three matches, meaning they will not make it to RWC 2023 and could be left out of the final squad.

The Japanese national team has played Samoa and Tonga so far, and while these two teams play hard contact with their players’ physicality, Fiji, also an island nation in the southern hemisphere, played a completely different style of rugby. The Fiji team played a style of rugby where they didn’t crowd the field, but formed a quick back line, and everyone ran and connected.

And while Fiji used to be poor at set plays, they now outplayed the Japanese teams. That is, they pushed and won in the scrums and won the ball quickly in dense battles. This is the result of their participation in Super Rugby.

17 minutes into the first half:

From a scrum in front of the enemy in-goal, the Fiji team’s FWs repeatedly attacked the side and scored a try in the middle right of the enemy in-goal in the fifth phase. In contrast to the Japanese team’s inability to break Fiji’s day defence no matter how many times they tried, the Fiji’s FWs also showed their power over the Japanese team. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 0-14.

38 minutes into the first half:

So far in this match, the Japanese team had not shown much in attack. Furthermore, they were clearly outclassed in set-piece play, especially in the scrums. Fiji had a chance to set up their own scrum in front of the opposition in-goal, which they pushed forward and SH KURUVOLI scored a try on the right side of the goal post. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 0-21.

The first half ended with this score. The Japanese team had little to show for their efforts in this match, as Fiji’s strength was evident. Can the Japanese team stop Fiji’s momentum in the second half?

Let’s start the second half.

16 minutes into the second half:

As the Japanese team approached the enemy’s in-goal, Fiji won the ball back and SO VOLAVOLA kicked a very long kick from in front of their own in-goal, which went all the way into the enemy’s in-goal. This happened twice more and the Japanese FWs became increasingly fatigued.

Just as Fiji team were on the verge of scoring a try, the Japanese team managed to hold them off and kicked back into enemy territory, but when Fiji lost possession, the Fiji team deployed from there and substitute SH ROMANIE broke through the Japanese defensive line to score a try at full stretch under the enemy goalposts. The try was scored.

The atmosphere was now such that the Fiji team’s momentum was unstoppable. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 0-28.

31 minutes into the second half:

The Japanese team, in a poor position, deployed from deep in their own half, and CTB OSADA took possession of the ball and ran nearly 70 metres on his own through Fiji’s defensive line, closing in on the opposition in-goal. However, he was caught out and stopped by the Fiji team’s defence player. However, CTB OSADA’s fierce run gave the Japanese team momentum and after this play, from a scrum on their own ball, WTB NAIKABULA received the ball and broke through Fiji’s defence to score a try in the middle on the left. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 7-28.

37 minutes into the second half:

The Japanese team, perhaps buoyed by their earlier try, launched a series of attacks from deep in their own half towards the end of the match. Once intercepted by Fiji’s WTB WAINIQOLO, it looked as if a try had been scored, but the try was cancelled because the Fiji team had committed an infringement before the play. After a reorganisation, the Japanese team gradually closed in on the enemy in-goal with a series of attacks, culminating in WTB MASIREWA scoring a try in the left corner of the enemy’s in-goal. The conversion goal after the try failed. The score was 12-28.

41 minutes into the second half:

The Japanese team launched an attack from the centre scrum, but a passing error gave the right of attack to the Fiji team. The horn sounded for the last play, but the Fiji team attacked in quick succession, trying to score a try, and broke through the Japanese defensive line. A converted goal after the try was also successful, making the score 12-35. The match ended here.

The Japanese national team showed their mettle towards the end of the match, but the strength of the Fiji team left a lasting impression. The current Fiji team has a good chance of kicking off the powers at RWC 2023 and making it to the final tournament.

In contrast, the Japanese team’s urgent task is to improve the level of coordination in their attack.

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Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine

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