Japan national rugby union team

The Japan national rugby union team, often known as the Cherry Blossoms, Sakura, and more recently The Brave Blossoms (ブレイブ・ブロッサムズ - Bureibu burossamuzu) is traditionally the strongest rugby union power in Asia and has enjoyed and endured mixed results against non-Asian teams over the years. Rugby union in Japan is administered by the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU), which was founded in 1926. They compete annually in the Pacific Nations Cup and previously in the Asia Rugby Championship. They have also participated in every Rugby World Cup since the tournament began in 1987.

Japan
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)Cherry Blossoms/Brave Blossoms/Sakuras
EmblemSakura
UnionJapan Rugby Football Union
Head coachJamie Joseph
CaptainMichael Leitch
Most capsHitoshi Ono (98)
Top scorerAyumu Goromaru (708)
Top try scorerDaisuke Ohata (69)
Home stadiumJapan National Stadium
Chichibunomiya Stadium
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current10 (as of 23 November 2020)
Highest7 (2019)
Lowest14 (2006)
First international
Japan 9–8 Canada 
(Osaka, Japan; 31 January 1932)
Biggest win
Japan 155–3 Chinese Taipei 
(Tokyo, Japan; 1 July 2002)
Biggest defeat
 New Zealand 145–17 Japan
(Bloemfontein, South Africa; 4 June 1995)
World Cup
Appearances9 (First in 1987)
Best resultQuarter-finals, 2019
Websitewww.rugby-japan.jp

Rugby was first played in Japan's treaty ports as early as 1866. Popular participation by local university teams was established in 1899 and Japan's first recorded international match was a match against a Canadian team in 1932. Notable games for Japan include a victory over the Junior All Blacks in 1968, and a narrow 6–3 loss to England in 1971. Famous wins by Japan include a 28–24 victory over a Scotland XV in 1989 and a 23–8 victory over Wales in 2013. In 2011, Japan displayed its progress by winning the 2011 IRB Pacific Nations Cup, played against Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. Further progress was displayed in 2014 when Japan completed a string of ten consecutive test wins (a record for a tier 2 team) to rank in the world's top 10 teams.[1] This continued into 2015 where they produced the first of their three biggest upsets when, in a Rugby World Cup pool match against the Springboks, they won 34–32.[2][3][4]

In the years between, Japan faced quality opposition, playing relatively well with solid results including a tie against France, and a narrow loss to Wales at Cardiff. Their second shock win was a 19–12 defeat of world number-two ranked Ireland in a 2019 Rugby World Cup pool game. Emerging undefeated from the tournament's pool stage after a 28–21 victory over Scotland, Japan made their first-ever World Cup quarter-final appearance, going down 3–26 to eventual world champions South Africa.[5][6]

HistoryEdit

 
Rugby football game in Yokohama, 1874

The first recorded instance of a team being established and rugby being played in Japan was in 1866 with the founding of the Yokohama Foot Ball Club. Games, mainly between service personnel, were played on the Garrison Parade Ground in Yamate, Yokohama.[7] In 1874 records also illustrate British sailors staging a game in Yokohama. Other games were played at other treaty ports such as Kobe between teams of long-term foreign residents and visiting ships' crews and garrisons, but they rarely involved Japanese players. The date of local Japanese participation in the sport is most frequently cited as 1899, when students at Keio University were introduced to the game by Professor Edward Bramwell Clarke and Ginnosuke Tanaka both graduates of Cambridge University.

The formation of a national team and effectively Japan's first international match took place in Osaka on 31 January 1932 when a trade delegation from Canada to Japan supported an overseas tour by the Canada national rugby union team. The Japanese won this first match 9–8. In a second test match in Tokyo 11 days later again the Japanese side beat the Canadians 38–5.[8]

Japan beat the Junior All Blacks 23–19 in 1968 after losing the first four matches on a tour of New Zealand, but they won the last five. The Japanese (coached by Waseda University Professor Onishi Tetsunosuke) lost by just 3–6 to England in Tokyo on 29 September 1971 in the RFU's centenary year. The 1973 Japan rugby union tour of Wales, England and France was less successful with the side winning only two of their eleven matches, and losing the international matches against Wales and France. Ten years later Japan gave Wales a fright in losing by a slim five-point margin, 24–29, at Cardiff Arms Park on 2 October 1983.

On 28 May 1989, a strong Japan coached by Hiroaki Shukuzawa defeated an uncapped Scotland, missing nine British Lions on tour in Australia, for the first time at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, 28–24. The Japan team included such Kobe Steel stalwarts as centre Seiji Hirao (captain), and locks Atsushi Oyagi and Toshiyuki Hayashi (38 Japan caps and a member of Oxford University's all-time best XV). Sinali Latu at No. 8 was then a fourth year student at Daito Bunka University, and speedy Yoshihito Yoshida on the wing (no. 14) was a third year at Meiji University. Scotland missed an incredible seven penalties and refused the kicking tee which was generously offered – as a surviving video of the game shows. It was almost the same Japanese team which defeated Zimbabwe in RWC1991.

Under Shogo Mukai (2001–2003)Edit

After Hirao resigned, Toshiba Brave Lupus coach Shogo Mukai was appointed in March 2001 to lead Japan up to the 2003 Rugby World Cup. After mixed fortunes in his first two years in charge, Japan put in some impressive performances at the tournament with good efforts against Scotland and France, nevertheless they still left the tournament having failed to reach their target of winning some matches but still won admirers for their exciting brand of play. Mukai left his post after the tournament to spend more time with his family.

Under Mitsutake Hagimoto (2004–2005)Edit

After Shogo Mukai left after the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the JRFU initially tried to appoint Eddie Jones from his post with Australia but were unsuccessful and instead appointed Mitsutake Hagimoto in March 2004 after he won the inaugural Top League with the Kobelco Steelers. Under Hagimoto, Japan decided they would not select foreign born players after Mukai had been criticised for playing too many at the World Cup.

Hagimoto's first match in charge was a disappointing draw with Korea, but his first few matches in charge after that were promising with wins over Russia and Canada to win the Super Powers Cup and pushed Italy close losing 32–19.

However, in November 2004, Japan went on a disastrous tour to Europe where they were embarrassingly thrashed 100–8 by Scotland and 98–0 by Wales and also were comfortably defeated by Romania. Japan's performances were described as "pathetic", and the squad was called "a joke" with some key players ignored or not given permission to travel.

This disastrous tour forced a rethink from Hagimoto and foreign born players were brought back into the side in 2005, but after losing twice to Ireland in June he was sacked and with just 5 wins from 15 matches was the least successful coach for Japan in the professional era.

Under Jean-Pierre Élissalde (2005–2006)Edit

 
Japan play Tonga at Honjo stadium on 4 June 2006

After Hagimoto left his post at the end of June 2005, Jean-Pierre Élissalde who had been appointed backs coach three months earlier took full charge and became the first foreigner to be the head coach for Japan. His first match in charge was a 44–29 win over Spain in November 2005.

In 2006, despite a disappointing campaign in the inaugural Pacific Nations Cup in June where Japan lost all their matches, and also lost to heavily to Italy 52–6, Élissalde was backed to lead the side to the 2007 Rugby World Cup. But Élissalde was later sacked in September after he took on a job with Bayonne without consulting the JRFU and then refused to give up his job with them.[9] Assistant coach Osamu Ota took over as caretaker coach for two Rugby World Cup qualifiers in November 2006.

Under John Kirwan (2007–2011)Edit

 
Japan plays Australia A on 8 June 2008

John Kirwan was appointed head coach on in October 2006 after Elissalde was sacked. He initially worked as an advisor to caretaker coach Osamu Ota before taking over the job completely in 2007.

After starting with large wins over the Asian opposition, Japan only won one of their remaining 10 fixtures in 2007, although in the 2007 Rugby World Cup they did gain a draw with a last minute touchline conversion from Shotaro Onishi against Canada to end a long losing streak of World Cup matches stretching back to 1991.

Results began to pick up after the 2007 World Cup and Kirwan led Japan up to a high of 13th in the IRB Rankings and to win their first ever Pacific Nations Cup title in 2011 after they beat Fiji away for the first ever time in Japan's history.

However, despite more positive results in between World Cups, Japan had a disappointing 2011 Rugby World Cup, losing 31–18 to Tonga who they had beaten four times in a row since 2008, and drawing again to Canada who they had beaten 46–8 and 27–6 in 2009, and Japan left the World Cup winless meaning they still had not won a match at the tournament since 1991. Kirwan came under pressure after the tournament and he resigned from his post after his contract came to the end at the end of the year.

The tenure of Kirwan as coach was notable for a large number of imports he selected. Players who originated from New Zealand such as James Arlidge, Bryce Robins, Shaun Webb, Ryan Nicholas, Luke Thompson or Tonga such as Alisi Tupuailei and Sione Vatuvei all featured prominently under Kirwan. The large percentage of foreigners in the national team also caused criticism for Kirwan. However, despite failing to bring Japan a World Cup win, Kirwan left his post as the most successful Japan coach of the professional era with a win rate of 58.18% from 55 matches.

Under Eddie Jones (2012–2015)Edit

Kirwan chose not to renew his contract as head coach when it expired at the end of 2011, and the Japan Rugby Football Union announced that former Australia coach Eddie Jones would be his successor.[10] Jones stated that his intention was to take the Japanese national team into the top 10 on the international rankings, and that they must develop a style of play to allow them to win games against teams such as Scotland and Wales.

Jones made his debut as Japan head coach against Kazakhstan. He had selected a total of 10 uncapped players out of the 22 selected players. They went on to win the match 87–0. They then had a big win over United Arab Emirates where young 18-year-old Yoshikazu Fujita set a new Asian Five Nations record for the most tries in a single match with a total of 6. This was also Fujita's international debut.[11]

In 2013, Jones led Japan to their sixth consecutive championship win in the Asian Five Nations, where Japan achieved a tournament record score of 121–0 against the Philippines. In May, the nation lost their opening match of the 2013 IRB Pacific Nations Cup to Tonga, followed by a defeat to Fiji in the second round. Following these matches, Japan faced a 2-test series against Wales. Japan lost narrowly, 18–22, in the first test, but won the second test 23–8, and the series ended in a 1–1 draw. This was the first time that Japan had recorded a victory over the Welsh.

On 16 October 2013, Jones was hospitalised after having a suspected stroke and was released from hospital 2 days later on 18 October 2013.[12][13] After his release from hospital, it was announced that Jones would miss Japan's 2013 end-of-year rugby union tests against New Zealand, Scotland, Gloucester, Russia and Spain, and former Australia skills coach and current technical adviser for Japan Scott Wisemantel would interim coach Japan for their 2013 end-of-year rugby union tests.[14]

 
Jamie Joseph giving a speech at a Sunwolves match on 12 May 2018

On 19 September 2015, Japan stunned South Africa by a last minute try from Karne Hesketh to win 34–32 in their opening group pool game at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Brighton, England. BBC reported the win as "arguably the biggest upset in rugby union history".[15] In 2015, Japan became the first team in World Cup history to win three pool games but still be eliminated at the group stage, due to their heavy loss to Scotland.[16]

Under Jamie Joseph (2016–present)Edit

Jamie Joseph, former coach of New Zealand's Highlanders Super Rugby team and the Māori All Blacks, took over as head coach for Japan (and the Sunwolves Super Rugby team) in 2016. In the 2017 Asia Rugby Championship, Japan sealed their twelfth consecutive Asia Rugby Championship, winning all four games. They went on to defeat Romania 33–21 in the 2017 June rugby union tests, but lost to Ireland 2–0, during their first test series since 2005, losing the first test 50–22 and the second 35–13. In November 2017, Joseph led his side to a single win and a draw in four games. They started their End-of-year series with two consecutive home losses, a 27–47 loss to a World XV side and a 30–63 loss to Australia. Japan's first win came against Tonga 39–6 in Toulouse, France, before going on to draw with France 23–23, which was the first time that these two nations had drawn with one another.

During the 2018 June tests, Joseph led Japan to a 1–all series draw with Italy, winning the first test 34–17, and losing the second 25–22. The team then beat Georgia 28–0 at the Toyota Stadium.

In 2019, Japan won the Pacific Nations Cup with wins against Fiji, Tonga and the United States, with no losses.

Japan hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and the team repeated their feat of a shock win in Brighton at the 2015 World Cup, this time beating world No. 2-ranked Ireland 19–12 at Shizuoka Stadium in Fukuroi, Shizuoka[17][18] They reached the quarter-finals for the first time in the team's history after beating Scotland 28–21 at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama that was battered by Typhoon Hagibis only the night before.[19]

Tournament historyEdit

Rugby World CupEdit

Japan has participated in the Rugby World Cup since the tournament's inception in 1987, and has made appearances in all tournaments thus far. Despite this, they experienced little success until the 2015 tournament, with just one victory over Zimbabwe in 1991, and two draws with Canada in 2007 and 2011. In 2015 they defeated South Africa with a score of 34–32, their first win since 1991 against Zimbabwe, which they followed up with victories over Samoa and the United States in the same pool stage, but despite their 3–1 record failed to reach the knockout round.

They were the home team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which was held in Japan.

In the 2019 World Cup, Japan were drawn in Group A alongside Ireland, Russia, Samoa, and Scotland. After a nervy opening night win against Russia (30-10),[20] Japan went on to beat Ireland 19–12,[21] a huge upset and a result few predicted. Their third group game against Samoa ended in another win, this time 38–19, while also securing a highly important bonus point (for scoring four or more tries).[22]

In the highly anticipated final group game against Scotland, both teams needed to win to progress to the knockout stages at the expense of the other. The match went ahead despite pre-game worries that it would have to be cancelled due to the ongoing issues caused by Typhoon Hagibis. The pre-tournament rules stated that if the typhoon was sufficient enough to intervene, the game would be cancelled, and the result declared a draw. This controversial rule[23] would have allowed Japan to progress by default due to previous results.

After final safety checks, the game was allowed to commence. Japan edged out Scotland 28–21 to register their second shock win of the tournament. They also became the first Asian nation to top their group at a Rugby World Cup, and the first Asian team to progress to the knockout stages.[24]

Japan played South Africa in the quarter finals in Tokyo on Sunday 20 October 2019, kick off 19:15 JST. They kept pace with South Africa in the first half, but two tries and three penalties in the second half for South Africa put the game out of reach and Japan lost 26–3.[25]

World Cup record World Cup Qualification record
Year Round P W D L F A P W D L F A
   1987 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 48 123 Automatically qualified
    1991 Pool Stage 3 1 0 2 77 87 3 2 0 1 65 63
  1995 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 55 252 4 4 0 0 210 52
  1999 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 36 140 3 3 0 0 221 25
  2003 Pool Stage 4 0 0 4 79 163 4 4 0 0 420 47
  2007 Pool Stage 4 0 1 3 64 210 6 6 0 0 379 60
  2011 Pool Stage 4 0 1 3 69 184 4 4 0 0 326 30
  2015 Pool Stage 4 3 0 1 98 100 8 8 0 0 658 41
  2019 Quarter-finals 5 4 0 1 118 88 Qualified as hosts
  2023 To be determined Automatically qualified
Total 10/10 33 8 2 23 526 1259 32 31 0 1 2279 318

Pacific Nations CupEdit

 
Pacific Nations Cup Match at Chichibunomiya Stadium on 17 June 2012, in which Samoa defeated Japan 27–26

Asia Rugby ChampionshipEdit

Asia Rugby Championship record
Year Round P W D L PF PA
  1969 Champions 4 4 0 0 191 35
  1970 Champions 3 3 0 0 111 39
  1972 Champions 4 4 0 0 167 4
  1974 Champions 4 4 0 0 140 37
  1976 Champions 4 4 0 0 194 21
  1978 Champions 3 3 0 0 97 30
  1980 Champions 4 4 0 0 265 21
  1982 Runner-up 4 3 0 1 112 30
  1984 Champions 4 4 0 0 202 23
  1986 Runner-up 4 2 0 2 232 54
  1988 Runner-up 4 3 0 1 223 43
  1990 Runner-up 4 3 0 1 200 34
  1992 Champions 3 3 0 0 225 12
  1994 Champions 3 3 0 0 226 17
  1996 Champions 2 2 0 0 242 22
  1998 Champions 3 3 0 0 221 25
  2000 Champions 3 3 0 0 164 41
  2002 Runner-up 3 2 0 1 93 54
  2004 Champions 2 2 0 0 69 12
  2006–07 Champions 2 2 0 0 106 3
       2008 Champions 4 4 0 0 310 58
      2009 Champions 4 4 0 0 271 40
       2010 Champions 4 4 0 0 326 30
      2011 Champions 4 4 0 0 307 35
      2012 Champions 4 4 0 0 312 11
      2013 Champions 4 4 0 0 316 8
      2014 Champions 4 4 0 0 342 33
    2015 Champions 4 3 1 0 163 40
    2016 Champions 4 4 0 0 242 23
    2017 Champions 4 4 0 0 172 56
Total 25 titles 107 100 1 6 6286 891

List of matchesEdit

Top 20 as of 13 September 2021[26]
Rank Change* Team Points
1     South Africa 092.49
2     New Zealand 090.31
3     England 085.44
4     Ireland 084.85
5  2   Australia 084.11
6  1   France 083.87
7  1   Argentina 082.86
8     Scotland 082.02
9     Wales 080.59
10     Japan 079.13
11     Fiji 076.87
12     Georgia 073.73
13     Samoa 073.59
14     Italy 070.65
15     Tonga 068.57
16  1   United States 067.12
17  1   Uruguay 067.02
18     Romania 066.22
19     Portugal 065.67
20     Spain 064.82
21     Canada 062.08
22     Hong Kong 061.23
23     Russia 060.94
24     Netherlands 059.30
25     Namibia 059.04
26     Brazil 056.32
27     Belgium 056.16
28     Chile 055.20
29      Switzerland 054.12
30     Germany 053.13
* Change from the previous week
Japan's historical rankings

See or edit raw graph data.

Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 13 September 2021[26]

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Japan national XV to 3 July 2021.[27]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
Arabian Gulf 3 3 0 0 100.0% 256 20 +236
  Argentina 6 1 5 0 26.7% 159 259 −100
  Australia 5 0 5 0 0.0% 88 283 −195
  Australia A 4 0 4 0 0.0% 51 242 −191
  Australian Universities 6 2 4 0 33.3% 60 90 −30
  Emerging Wallabies 2 1 0 1 50.0% 41 39 +2
British & Irish Lions 1 0 1 0 0.0% 10 28 -18
  Canada 25 15 8 2 60.0% 612 581 +31
  British Columbia Bears 6 2 2 2 33.3% 103 82 +21
  Chinese Taipei 4 4 0 0 100.0% 474 27 +447
  England 2 0 2 0 0.0% 22 95 −73
  England XV 5 0 5 0 0.0% 71 131 −60
  England Saxons 2 0 2 0 0.0% 30 92 −62
  England Students 1 0 1 0 0.0% 0 43 −43
  England Under-23's 2 0 2 0 0.0% 25 77 −52
  Cambridge University 4 1 3 0 25.0% 52 110 −58
  Oxford University 4 0 4 0 0.0% 28 130 −102
  Oxford and Cambridge 3 0 3 0 0.0% 30 113 −83
  Fiji 18 4 14 0 22.2% 346 488 −142
  France 4 0 3 1 0.0% 91 151 −60
  France XV 6 0 6 0 0.0% 31 272 −241
  Georgia 6 5 1 0 83.3% 150 96 +54
  Hong Kong 29 24 4 1 82.8% 1175 370 +805
  Ireland 9 1 8 0 11.1% 168 387 −219
  Ireland XV 2 0 2 0 0.0% 28 81 −53
  Ireland Students 1 0 1 0 0.0% 12 24 −12
  Italy 8 2 6 0 25.0% 146 241 −95
  Kazakhstan 5 5 0 0 100.0% 418 23 +395
  South Korea 36 29 6 1 80.1% 1614 517 +1097
  Netherlands 1 0 1 0 0.0% 13 15 −2
  New Zealand 4 0 4 0 0.0% 61 351 −290
  New Zealand XV 2 0 2 0 0.0% 4 180 −176
  Junior All Blacks 8 1 7 0 12.5% 98 337 −239
  Māori 1 0 1 0 0.0% 22 65 −43
  New Zealand Universities 15 2 11 2 13.3% 221 417 −196
  Philippines 2 2 0 0 100.0% 220 10 +210
  Queensland Reds 1 0 1 0 0.0% 6 42 −36
  Romania 6 5 1 0 83.3% 152 119 +33
  Russia 7 6 1 0 83.3% 299 127 +172
  Samoa 16 5 11 0 31.3% 311 501 −190
  Scotland 8 1 7 0 12.5% 112 334 −222
  Scotland XV 4 1 3 0 25.0% 64 165 −101
  Singapore 1 1 0 0 100.0% 45 15 +30
  South Africa 3 1 2 0 33.4% 44 99 −55
  Spain 3 3 0 0 100.0% 114 43 +71
  Sri Lanka 3 3 0 0 100.0% 266 29 +237
  Thailand 1 1 0 0 100.0% 42 11 +31
  Tonga 18 9 9 0 50.0% 459 453 +6
  United Arab Emirates 3 3 0 0 100.0% 310 6 +304
  United States 24 10 13 1 41.7% 560 675 −115
  Uruguay 3 2 1 0 66.7% 88 32 +56
  Wales 10 1 9 0 10.0% 159 526 −367
  Wales XV 4 0 4 0 0.0% 56 229 −173
  Welsh Clubs 1 0 1 0 0.0% 9 63 −54
  Zimbabwe 1 1 0 0 100.0% 52 8 +44
Total 359 157 191 11 43.73% 10078 9944 +134

Wins against Tier 1 nationsEdit

3 June 1968[28] Junior All Blacks   19-23   Japan   Athletic Park, Wellington  
Try: Yoshihiro Sakata (4)
Akira Yokoi
Tadayuki Ito
Con: Tsutomu Katsuraguchi
Pen: Tsutomu Katsuraguchi
Try: Mike O’Callaghan
??? (2)
Con: ??? (2)
Pen: ??? (2)
Attendance: 25,000
Referee: RC Fenton
28 May 1989 Japan   28–24   Scotland XV   Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo  
15 September 1998 Japan   44–29   Argentina   Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo  
Try: McCormick
Ohata
Watanabe (2)
Con: Murata (3)
Pen: Murata (4)
Drop: Ken Iwabuchi (2)
Report Try: Corleto
Ledesma
Martín
Pfister
Con: Fuselli
Lobrauco
Drop: Fuselli
Attendance: 20,000
Referee:   Giovanni Morandin (Italy)
15 June 2013 Japan   23–8   Wales   Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo  
14:00 JST (UTC+9) Try: Wing 49' c
Broadhurst 60' c
Con: Goromaru (2/2) 49', 61'
Pen: Goromaru (3/3) 14', 34', 76'
Report Try: Prydie 44' m
Pen: Biggar (1/2) 21'
Attendance: 21,062
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
21 June 2014 Japan   26–23   Italy   Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo  
14:00 JST (UTC+09) Try: Yamada 4' c
Sa'u 59' c
Con: Goromaru (2/2) 5', 60'
Pen: Goromaru (4/5) 13', 22', 42', 48'
Report
(In Italian)[29]
Try: Penalty try 17' c
Barbieri 74' c
Con: Orquera (1/1) 17'
Allan (1/1) 75'
Pen: Orquera (3/3) 7', 35', 52'
Attendance: 13,816
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
19 September 2015 South Africa   32–34   Japan   Falmer Stadium, Brighton  
16:45 Try: Louw 18' c
B. Du Plessis 33' m
De Jager 44' c
Strauss 62' c
Con: Lambie (2/3) 19', 45'
Pollard (1/1) 63'
Pen: Lambie (1/1) 54'
Pollard (1/1) 73'
Try: Leitch 30' c
Goromaru 69' c
Hesketh 80' m
Con: Goromaru (2/3) 31', 70'
Pen: Goromaru (5/6) 8', 43', 49', 53', 60'
Attendance: 29,290
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
9 June 2018 Japan   34–17   Italy   Oita Bank Dome, Oita  
14:45 JST (UTC+09) Try: Mafi 17' c
Fukuoka 27' c
Lemeki 60' c
Matsushima 65' c
Con: Tamura (4/4) 19', 29', 62', 67'
Pen: Tamura (2/3) 33', 57'
Try: Pasquali 14' c
Steyn 35' c
Con: Allan (2/2) 16', 37'
Pen: Allan (1/1) 51'
Attendance: 25,824
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
28 September 2019 Japan   19–12   Ireland   Shizuoka Stadium, Fukuroi  
16:15 JST (UTC+09) Try: Fukuoka 59' c
Con: Tamura (1/1) 61'
Pen: Tamura (4/6) 18', 34', 40', 72'
Try: Ringrose 14' m
Rob Kearney 21' c
Con: Carty (1/2) 22'
Attendance: 47,813
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
13 October 2019 Japan   28–21   Scotland   International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama  
16:15 JST (UTC+09) Try: Matsushima 18' c
Inagaki 26' c
Fukuoka (2) 40' c, 43' c
Con: Tamura (4/4) 20', 27', 40+2', 44'
Report Try: Russell 7' c
Nel 50' c
Fagerson 55' c
Con: Laidlaw (2/2) 8', 51'
Russell (1/1) 56'
Attendance: 67,666
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)

Additionally, Japan tied   France 23–23 in Paris, 25 November 2017.[30]

Current squadEdit

On 13 June 2021, a 36-man squad for the tour of Europe was announced.[31][32]

Caps updated: 5 July 2021

Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
Kosuke Horikoshi Hooker (1995-06-02) 2 June 1995 (age 26) 3 Suntory Sungoliath
Yusuke Niwai Hooker (1991-10-22) 22 October 1991 (age 29) 8 Canon Eagles
Atsushi Sakate Hooker (1993-06-21) 21 June 1993 (age 28) 23 Panasonic Wild Knights
Asaeli Ai Valu Prop (1989-05-07) 7 May 1989 (age 32) 16 Panasonic Wild Knights
Keita Inagaki Prop (1990-06-02) 2 June 1990 (age 31) 36 Panasonic Wild Knights
Koo Ji-won Prop (1994-07-20) 20 July 1994 (age 27) 15 Honda Heat
Shinnosuke Kakinaga Prop (1991-12-19) 19 December 1991 (age 29) 9 Suntory Sungoliath
Craig Millar Prop (1990-10-29) 29 October 1990 (age 30) 2 Panasonic Wild Knights
Yukio Morikawa Prop (1993-02-06) 6 February 1993 (age 28) 0 Suntory Sungoliath
Ryota Hasegawa Lock (1993-05-12) 12 May 1993 (age 28) 0 Panasonic Wild Knights
Uwe Helu Lock (1990-07-12) 12 July 1990 (age 31) 16 Yamaha Júbilo
James Moore Lock (1993-06-11) 11 June 1993 (age 28) 10 Munakata Sanix Blues
Wimpie van der Walt Lock (1989-01-06) 6 January 1989 (age 32) 18 NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes
Jack Cornelsen Back row (1994-10-13) 13 October 1994 (age 26) 3 Panasonic Wild Knights
Ben Gunter Back row (1997-10-24) 24 October 1997 (age 23) 0 Panasonic Wild Knights
Kazuki Himeno Back row (1994-07-27) 27 July 1994 (age 27) 18 Toyota Verblitz /   Highlanders
Lappies Labuschagné Back row (1989-01-11) 11 January 1989 (age 32) 10 Kubota Spears
Michael Leitch (c) Back row (1988-10-07) 7 October 1988 (age 32) 70 Toshiba Brave Lupus
Amanaki Mafi Back row (1990-01-11) 11 January 1990 (age 31) 29 Canon Eagles
Naoki Ozawa Back row (1988-10-08) 8 October 1988 (age 32) 4 Suntory Sungoliath
Tevita Tatafu Back row (1996-01-02) 2 January 1996 (age 25) 5 Suntory Sungoliath
Kouki Arai Scrum-half (1993-05-14) 14 May 1993 (age 28) 0 Canon Eagles
Naoto Saito Scrum-half (1997-08-26) 26 August 1997 (age 24) 2 Suntory Sungoliath
Kaito Shigeno Scrum-half (1990-11-21) 21 November 1990 (age 30) 12 Toyota Verblitz
Rikiya Matsuda Fly-half (1994-05-03) 3 May 1994 (age 27) 25 Panasonic Wild Knights
Yu Tamura Fly-half (1989-01-09) 9 January 1989 (age 32) 65 Canon Eagles
Shane Gates Centre (1992-09-27) 27 September 1992 (age 28) 1 NTT Communications Shining Arcs
Timothy Lafaele Centre (1991-08-19) 19 August 1991 (age 30) 25 Kobelco Steelers
Ryoto Nakamura Centre (1991-06-03) 3 June 1991 (age 30) 26 Suntory Sungoliath
Siosaia Fifita Wing (1998-12-20) 20 December 1998 (age 22) 2 Tenri University / Kintetsu Liners
Lomano Lemeki Wing (1989-01-20) 20 January 1989 (age 32) 15 Munakata Sanix Blues
Semisi Masirewa Wing (1992-06-09) 9 June 1992 (age 29) 1 Kintetsu Liners
Kotaro Matsushima Wing (1993-02-26) 26 February 1993 (age 28) 41   Clermont
Taichi Takahashi Wing (1996-06-24) 24 June 1996 (age 25) 0 Toyota Verblitz
Gerhard van den Heever Fullback (1989-04-13) 13 April 1989 (age 32) 0 Kubota Spears
Ryohei Yamanaka Fullback (1988-06-22) 22 June 1988 (age 33) 19 Kobelco Steelers

Notable former playersEdit

CoachesEdit

KitsEdit

Japan traditionally plays with white and red hooped shirts (with white collar and cuffs) with a Sakura embroidered on the chest, paired with white shorts and white socks with red splashes. Between 2003 and 2011, the shirt was predominantly red with two white parallel hoops on the chest with white accents, sometimes with black or navy socks and shorts.

On 4 July 2019 the Japan Rugby Football Union on Thursday unveiled the national team's jersey for this year's Rugby World Cup, the shirt featuring a samurai helmet motif representing the tradition of Japan's warrior spirit. The combination of Samurai and Sakura (Cherry Blossom) has long been linked in Japanese culture.

The away kit usually consist of a navy blue uniform, white or navy shorts and navy blue socks, sometimes with white collar or panels, or black. The kit supplier since the 1960s is Canterbury. Currently, the jersey sponsors are Lipovitan D (in the front) and Toshiba (in the back). Previously, between 1997 and 2000, the shirt sponsor was Epson.

Home kitEdit

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1960s–2002
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2003–2006
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2007–2009
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2011–2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2011–2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2015–2018
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2019–present

Away kitEdit

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1960s–2002
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2003–2006
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2007–2009
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2015–2018
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2019–present

Player records (career)Edit

Most matchesEdit

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Won Lost Draw %
1 Hitoshi Ono Lock 2004–2016 98 78 20 60 35 3 63
2 Hirotoki Onozawa Wing 2001–2013 81 73 8 41 37 3 52
3 Yukio Motoki Centre 1991–2005 79 73 6 31 47 1 40
4 Kensuke Hatakeyama Prop 2008–2016 78 57 21 50 27 1 65
5 Fumiaki Tanaka Scrum-half 2008– 75 60 15 46 27 2 63
6 Luke Thompson Lock 2007–2019 71 59 12 44 25 2 63
7 Michael Leitch Flanker 2008– 70 64 6 46 22 2 69
8 Takashi Kikutani Number 8 2005–2014 68 57 11 41 26 1 61
9 Shota Horie Hooker 2009– 66 59 7 43 21 2 67
10 Yu Tamura Fly-half 2012– 65 51 14 41 23 1 66

Last updated: Ireland vs Japan, 3 July 2021. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[35]

Most triesEdit

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries
1 Daisuke Ohata Wing 1996–2006 58 55 3 345 69
2 Hirotoki Onozawa Wing 2001–2013 81 73 8 275 55
3 Takashi Kikutani Number 8 2005–2014 68 57 11 160 32
4 Terunori Masuho Wing 1991–2001 47 46 1 147 29
5 Yoshikazu Fujita Wing 2012– 30 20 10 130 26
6 Kenki Fukuoka Wing 2013–2019 38 31 7 125 25
7 Ryu Koliniasi Holani Number 8 2008–2016 44 38 6 110 22
Kotaro Matsushima Fullback 2014– 41 37 4 110 22
9 Alisi Tupuailei Centre 2009–2011 20 13 7 105 21
10 Toru Kurihara Wing 2000–2003 28 23 5 347 20
Michael Leitch Flanker 2008– 70 64 6 100 20

Last updated: Ireland vs Japan, 3 July 2021. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[36]

Most pointsEdit

# Player Pos Span Mat Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1 Ayumu Goromaru Fullback 2005–2015 56 708 18 162 98 0
2 Keiji Hirose Fly-half 1994–2005 40 422 5 77 79 2
3 Toru Kurihara Wing 2000–2003 28 347 20 71 35 0
4 Daisuke Ohata Wing 1996–2006 58 345 69 0 0 0
5 Yu Tamura Fly-half 2012– 65 289 5 60 48 0
6 James Arlidge Fly-half 2007–2011 32 286 8 78 28 2
7 Hirotoki Onozawa Wing 2001–2013 81 275 55 0 0 0
8 Shaun Webb Fly-half 2008–2011 35 198 18 45 6 0
9 Ryan Nicholas Centre 2008–2012 38 193 9 53 14 0
10 Takashi Kikutani Number 8 2005–2014 68 160 32 0 0 0

Last updated: Ireland vs Japan, 3 July 2021. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[37]

Most matches as captainEdit

# Player Pos Span Mat Won Lost Draw % Pts Tries
1 Takuro Miuchi Number 8 2002–2008 45 17 27 1 38.88 30 6
2 Michael Leitch Flanker 2014– 35 22 12 1 68.18 55 11
3 Takashi Kikutani Number 8 2008–2013 34 21 12 1 63.23 110 22
4 Toshiaki Hirose Wing 2012–2013 18 13 5 0 72.22 45 9
5 Masahiro Kunda Hooker 1993–1998 14 5 9 0 35.71 0 0
6 Yukio Motoki Centre 1996–1997 12 4 8 0 33.33 5 1
7 Seiji Hirao Centre 1989–1991 11 5 6 0 45.45 0 0
8 Toshiyuki Hayashi Lock 1986–1987 10 1 8 1 15.00 0 0
Andrew McCormick Centre 1998–1999 10 4 6 0 40.00 5 1
Akira Yokoi Centre 1970–1974 10 3 6 1 35.00 0 0

Last updated: Ireland vs Japan, 3 July 2021. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[38]

Player records (match)Edit

Most points in a matchEdit

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1 Toru Kurihara Wing 60 6 15 0 0   Chinese Taipei   Tainan 21 July 2002
2 Daisuke Ohata Wing 40 8 0 0 0   Chinese Taipei   Tokyo 21 July 2002
3 Ayumu Goromaru Fullback 37 1 16 0 0   Sri Lanka   Nagoya 10/05/2014
4 Ayumu Goromaru Fullback 36 1 14 1 0   Philippines   Fukuoka 20 April 2013
5 Toru Kurihara Wing 35 2 11 1 0   South Korea   Tokyo 16 June 2002
6 Keiji Hirose Fly-half 34 1 1 9 0   Tonga   Tokyo 08/05/1999
7 Ayumu Goromaru Fullback 32 2 11 0 0   Kazakhstan   Almaty 28 April 2012
8 Keiji Hirose Fly-half 31 0 11 3 0   Hong Kong   Tokyo 08/05/2005
9 4 players on 30 points

Last updated: Ireland vs Japan, 3 July 2021. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[39]

Most tries in a matchEdit

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1 Daisuke Ohata Wing 40 8 0 0 0   Chinese Taipei   Tokyo 07/07/2002
2 Toru Kurihara Wing 60 6 15 0 0   Chinese Taipei   Tainan 21 July 2002
Daisuke Ohata Wing 30 6 0 0 0   Hong Kong   Tokyo 08/05/2005
Yoshikazu Fujita Wing 30 6 0 0 0   United Arab Emirates   Fukuoka 05/05/2012
5 Terunori Masuho Wing 25 5 0 0 0   Chinese Taipei   Singapore 27 October 1998
Kosuke Endo Wing 25 5 0 0 0   South Korea   Daegu 01/05/2010
Alisi Tupuailei Centre 25 5 0 0 0   Sri Lanka   Colombo 21 May 2011
Kentaro Kodama Wing 25 5 0 0 0   South Korea   Kanagawa 30 April 2016
9 10 players on 4 tries

Last updated: Ireland vs Japan, 3 July 2021. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[40]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ "Japan pull off greatest shock in World Cup history". ESPN. 19 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Rugby World Cup: Japan's Shocking Upset Commands Attention". The New York Times. 21 September 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Japan beat South Africa". The Guardian. 19 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Joyous fans roar Japan to thrilling win and place in the knockouts". Rugby World Cup. 13 October 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Springboks 'push the right buttons' to end Japan's party". Rugby World Cup. 20 October 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  7. ^ Galbraith, Mike (15 March 2014). "1866 and all that: the untold early history of rugby in Japan". The Japan Times.
  8. ^ Young, Keith (2015). "Japan". Complete Rugby Union Compendium. Edinburgh: Arena Sport. ISBN 978-1-909715-34-9.
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  10. ^ "Eddie Jones appointed coach of Japan". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 26 December 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
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  12. ^ "Eddie Jones hospitalised after Japan rugby coach suffers suspected stroke – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Eddie Jones released from intensive care after stroke but will miss Japan's Test with All Blacks". Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  14. ^ a b "Scott Wisemantel is interim coach for Japan". Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  15. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2015: South Africa 32–34 Japan". 19 September 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2015: Japan beat USA in final pool game". 11 October 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  17. ^ McCurry, Justin; Doward, Jamie (28 September 2019). "High fives and Guinness as Japan celebrates latest rugby shock". The Observer.
  18. ^ Cary, Tom; Stokes, Ali (28 September 2019). "Sensation of Shizuoka: Japan shock Ireland with another historic Rugby World Cup upset". The Telegraph.
  19. ^ Kitson, Robert (13 October 2019). "Japan hang on to reach Rugby World Cup last eight and send Scotland out". The Guardian.
  20. ^ "Matsushima stars as Japan beat Russia - relive hosts' World Cup win". BBC Sport. 19 September 2019. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  21. ^ "Shock Japan win 'will ignite World Cup'". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  22. ^ "Japan beat Samoa to close in on quarters". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  23. ^ Cleary, Mick (13 October 2019). "Scotland didn't cover themselves in glory with legal threats amid death and destruction in Japan". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
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  25. ^ Grey, Becky (20 October 2019). "South Africa 26-3 Japan: Springboks through to Rugby World Cup semi-finals". BBC Sport.
  26. ^ a b "Men's World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  27. ^ "Rugby Union – ESPN Scrum – Statsguru – Test matches – Team records". ESPN scrum.
  28. ^ "RUGBY IN JAPAN NEWSLETTER Volume 9, No.30". rugby-international.blogspot.ca. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  29. ^ "Italy lose 26–23 to Japan in Tokyo" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 21 June 2014.
  30. ^ France and Japan draw 23–23 in Paris
  31. ^ "Japan Men's National Rugby Team Tour members for British & Irish Lions, Ireland fixtures". Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU). 4 June 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  32. ^ "ラグビー日本代表 リポビタン D ツアー 2021 遠征メンバーのお知らせ". Japan Rugby (in Japanese). 13 June 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  33. ^ a b "Hammett, Nakatake assigned interim coaching duties for Brave Blossoms". The Japan Times. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  34. ^ "Jamie Joseph to take Japan to next Rugby World Cup, ruling out All Blacks role". SCMP. 18 November 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  35. ^ "Rugby Union – Japan – Most matches". ESPN scrum.
  36. ^ "Rugby Union – Japan – Most individual tries". ESPN scrum.
  37. ^ "Rugby Union – Japan – Most individual points". ESPN scrum.
  38. ^ "Rugby Union – Japan – Most matches as a captain". ESPN scrum.
  39. ^ "Rugby Union – Japan – Most individual points in a match". ESPN scrum.
  40. ^ "Rugby Union – Japan – Most individual tries in a match". ESPN scrum.

External linksEdit