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Japan national rugby union team

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 stadiumChichibunomiya Stadium
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current8 (as of 21 October 2019)
Highest6 (2019)
Lowest20 (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
Japan 17–145 New Zealand
(Bloemfontein, South Africa; 4 June 1995)
World Cup
Appearances8 (First in 1987)
Best resultQuarter-finals, 2019
Websitewww.rugby-japan.jp

The Japan national rugby union team (often known as the Cherry Blossoms (Sakura in Japanese) and more recently The Brave Blossoms), 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.

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 the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Japan drew 12–12 against Canada. 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] 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 South Africa.[5][6]

History

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 indigenous Japanese. 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)

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)

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)

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)

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 amount 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)

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)

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 history

Rugby World Cup

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
AustraliaNew Zealand 1987 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 48 123 Automatically qualified
United KingdomRepublic of IrelandFrance 1991 Pool Stage 3 1 0 2 77 87 3 2 0 1 65 63
South Africa 1995 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 55 252 4 4 0 0 210 52
Wales 1999 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 36 140 3 3 0 0 221 25
Australia 2003 Pool Stage 4 0 0 4 79 163 4 4 0 0 420 47
France 2007 Pool Stage 4 0 1 3 64 210 6 6 0 0 379 60
New Zealand 2011 Pool Stage 4 0 1 3 69 184 4 4 0 0 326 30
England 2015 Pool Stage 4 3 0 1 98 100 8 8 0 0 658 41
Japan 2019 Quarter-finals 5 4 0 1 118 88 Qualified as hosts
France 2023 To be determined Automatically qualified
Total 10/10 33 8 2 23 526 1259 32 31 0 1 2279 318

Pacific Nations Cup

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

Asia Rugby Championship

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

Overall

Top 30 rankings as of 18 November 2019[26]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  South Africa 094.19
2 Steady  New Zealand 092.11
3 Steady  England 088.82
4 Steady  Wales 085.02
5 Steady  Ireland 084.45
6 Steady  Australia 081.90
7 Steady  France 080.88
8 Steady  Japan 079.28
9 Steady  Scotland 079.23
10 Steady  Argentina 078.31
11 Steady  Fiji 076.21
12 Steady  Italy 072.04
13 Steady  Tonga 071.44
14 Steady  Georgia 071.26
15 Steady  Samoa 070.72
16 Steady  Spain 068.15
17 Steady  United States 068.10
18 Steady  Uruguay 067.41
19 Steady  Romania 066.69
20 Steady  Russia 063.09
21 Increase  Hong Kong 061.25
22 Decrease  Canada 061.12
23 Decrease  Namibia 061.01
24 Decrease  Portugal 061.01
25 Steady  Brazil 058.89
26 Steady  Netherlands 058.46
27 Increase  Germany 056.26
28 Decrease  Belgium 055.74
29 Increase   Switzerland 054.41
30 Decrease  Chile 053.83
*Change from the previous week
Japan's historical rankings
Japan IRB World Rankings.png
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 18 November 2019[26]

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Japan national XV to 13 October 2019.[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
Australia Australian Universities 6 2 4 0 33.3% 60 90 −30
Australia Emerging Wallabies 2 1 0 1 50.0% 41 39 +2
 Canada 25 15 8 2 60.0% 612 581 +31
Canada 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 England Saxons 2 0 2 0 0.0% 30 92 −62
England England Students 1 0 1 0 0.0% 0 43 −43
England England Under-23's 2 0 2 0 0.0% 25 77 −52
England Cambridge University 4 1 3 0 25.0% 52 110 −58
England Oxford University 4 0 4 0 0.0% 28 130 −102
England 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 25 4 0 86.2% 1175 370 +805
 Ireland 8 1 7 0 12.5% 137 348 −211
 Ireland XV 2 0 2 0 0.0% 28 81 −53
Ireland Ireland Students 1 0 1 0 0.0% 12 24 −12
 Italy 7 2 5 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
New Zealand Junior All Blacks 8 1 7 0 12.5% 98 337 −239
 Māori 1 0 1 0 0.0% 22 65 −43
New Zealand New Zealand Universities 15 2 11 2 13.3% 221 417 −196
 Philippines 2 2 0 0 100.0% 220 10 +210
Australia Queensland Reds 1 0 1 0 0.0% 6 42 −36
 Romania 6 5 1 0 83.3% 152 119 +33
 Russia 6 5 1 0 83.3% 269 108 +161
 Samoa 15 4 11 0 26.7% 273 482 −209
 Scotland 8 1 7 0 12.5% 140 366 −226
 Scotland XV 4 1 3 0 25.0% 64 165 −101
 Singapore 1 1 0 0 100.0% 45 15 +30
 South Africa 2 1 1 0 50.0% 41 73 −32
 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
Wales Welsh Clubs 1 0 1 0 0.0% 9 63 −54
 Zimbabwe 1 1 0 0 100.0% 52 8 +44
Total 352 154 188 10 43.75% 9919 9789 +130

Wins against Tier 1 nations

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

Current squad

On 29 August, Japan named their 31-man for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.[31]

Caps updated: 20 October 2019

Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
Takuya Kitade Hooker (1992-09-14) 14 September 1992 (age 27) 1 Suntory Sungoliath
Atsushi Sakate Hooker (1993-06-21) 21 June 1993 (age 26) 21 Panasonic Wild Knights
Shota Horie Hooker (1986-01-21) 21 January 1986 (age 33) 66 Panasonic Wild Knights
Keita Inagaki Prop (1990-06-02) 2 June 1990 (age 29) 34 Panasonic Wild Knights
Koo Ji-won Prop (1994-07-20) 20 July 1994 (age 25) 13 Honda Heat
Yusuke Kizu Prop (1995-12-02) 2 December 1995 (age 23) 3 Toyota Verblitz
Isileli Nakajima Prop (1989-07-09) 9 July 1989 (age 30) 8 Kobelco Steelers
Asaeli Ai Valu Prop (1989-05-07) 7 May 1989 (age 30) 14 Panasonic Wild Knights
Uwe Helu Lock (1990-07-12) 12 July 1990 (age 29) 16 Yamaha Júbilo
James Moore Lock (1993-06-11) 11 June 1993 (age 26) 8 Munakata Sanix Blues
Luke Thompson Lock (1981-04-16) 16 April 1981 (age 38) 71 Kintetsu Liners
Wimpie van der Walt Lock (1989-01-06) 6 January 1989 (age 30) 16 NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes
Kazuki Himeno Loose forward (1994-07-27) 27 July 1994 (age 25) 17 Toyota Verblitz
Michael Leitch (c) Loose forward (1988-10-07) 7 October 1988 (age 31) 68 Toshiba Brave Lupus
Lappies Labuschagné Loose forward (1989-01-11) 11 January 1989 (age 30) 8 Kubota Spears
Amanaki Mafi Loose forward (1990-01-21) 21 January 1990 (age 29) 27 NTT Communications Shining Arcs
Yoshitaka Tokunaga Loose forward (1992-04-10) 10 April 1992 (age 27) 12 Toshiba Brave Lupus
Hendrik Tui Loose forward (1987-12-13) 13 December 1987 (age 31) 47 Suntory Sungoliath
Yutaka Nagare Scrum-half (1992-09-04) 4 September 1992 (age 27) 24 Suntory Sungoliath
Kaito Shigeno Scrum-half (1990-11-21) 21 November 1990 (age 28) 10 Toyota Verblitz
Fumiaki Tanaka Scrum-half (1985-01-03) 3 January 1985 (age 34) 75 Canon Eagles
Yu Tamura Fly-half (1989-01-09) 9 January 1989 (age 30) 62 Canon Eagles
Rikiya Matsuda Fly-half (1994-05-03) 3 May 1994 (age 25) 24 Panasonic Wild Knights
Ryoto Nakamura Centre (1991-06-03) 3 June 1991 (age 28) 24 Suntory Sungoliath
Timothy Lafaele Centre (1991-08-19) 19 August 1991 (age 28) 23 Kubota Spears
Will Tupou Centre (1990-07-20) 20 July 1990 (age 29) 12 Coca-Cola Red Sparks
Kenki Fukuoka Wing (1992-09-07) 7 September 1992 (age 27) 38 Panasonic Wild Knights
Lomano Lemeki Wing (1989-01-30) 30 January 1989 (age 30) 15 Honda Heat
Ataata Moeakiola Wing (1996-02-06) 6 February 1996 (age 23) 4 Kobelco Steelers
Kotaro Matsushima Fullback (1993-02-26) 26 February 1993 (age 26) 39 Suntory Sungoliath
Ryohei Yamanaka Fullback (1988-06-22) 22 June 1988 (age 31) 18 Kobelco Steelers

Notable former players

Coaches

Kit

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 July 4, 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.

1960s–2002 Home
1960s–2002 Away
2003–2006 Home
2003–2006 Away
2007–2009 Home
2007–2009 Away
2011–2014 Home
2011–2014 Home
2015–2018 Home
2015–2018 Home

Player records

Most matches

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Won Lost Draw %
1 Hitoshi Ono Lock 2004–2016 98 78 20 60 35 3 62.75
2 Hirotoki Onozawa Wing 2001–2013 81 73 8 41 37 3 52.46
3 Yukio Motoki Centre 1991–2005 79 73 6 31 47 1 39.87
4 Kensuke Hatakeyama Prop 2008–2016 78 57 21 50 27 1 64.74
5 Fumiaki Tanaka Scrum-half 2008– 75 60 15 46 27 2 62.66
6 Luke Thompson Lock 2007– 71 59 12 44 25 2 63.38
7 Takashi Kikutani Number 8 2005–2014 68 57 11 41 26 1 61.02
Michael Leitch Flanker 2008– 68 62 6 46 20 2 69.11
9 Shota Horie Hooker 2009– 66 59 7 43 21 2 66.66
10 Takeomi Ito Number 8 1996–2005 63 40 23 26 36 1 42.06
Yu Tamura Fly-half 2012– 63 49 14 41 21 1 65.87

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[33]

Most tries

# 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– 38 31 7 125 25
7 Ryu Koliniasi Holani Number 8 2008–2016 44 38 6 110 22
Kotaro Matsushima Fullback 2014– 39 35 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

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[34]

Most points

# 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 James Arlidge Fly-half 2007–2011 32 286 8 78 28 2
6 Hirotoki Onozawa Wing 2001–2013 81 275 55 0 0 0
7 Yu Tamura Fly-half 2012– 63 '273* 5 55 46 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: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[35]

Most matches as captain

# 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 Takashi Kikutani Number 8 2008–2013 34 21 12 1 63.23 110 22
3 Michael Leitch Flanker 2014– 33 22 10 1 68.18 50 10
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: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[36]

Most points in a match

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1 Toru Kurihara Wing 60 6 15 0 0  Chinese Taipei Chinese Taipei Tainan 21/07/2002
2 Daisuke Ohata Wing 40 8 0 0 0  Chinese Taipei Japan Tokyo 21/07/2002
3 Ayumu Goromaru Fullback 37 1 16 0 0  Sri Lanka Japan Nagoya 10/05/2014
4 Ayumu Goromaru Fullback 36 1 14 1 0  Philippines Japan Fukuoka 20/04/2013
5 Toru Kurihara Wing 35 2 11 1 0  South Korea Japan Tokyo 16/06/2002
6 Keiji Hirose Fly-half 34 1 1 9 0  Tonga Japan Tokyo 08/05/1999
7 Ayumu Goromaru Fullback 32 2 11 0 0  Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Almaty 28/04/2012
8 Keiji Hirose Fly-half 31 0 11 3 0  Hong Kong Japan Tokyo 08/05/2005
9 4 players on 30 points

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[37]

Most tries in a match

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1 Daisuke Ohata Wing 40 8 0 0 0  Chinese Taipei Japan Tokyo 07/07/2002
2 Toru Kurihara Wing 60 6 15 0 0  Chinese Taipei Chinese Taipei Tainan 21/07/2002
Daisuke Ohata Wing 30 6 0 0 0  Hong Kong Japan Tokyo 08/05/2005
Yoshikazu Fujita Wing 30 6 0 0 0  United Arab Emirates Japan Fukuoka 05/05/2012
5 Terunori Masuho Wing 25 5 0 0 0  Chinese Taipei Singapore Singapore 27/10/1998
Kosuke Endo Wing 25 5 0 0 0  South Korea South Korea Daegu 01/05/2010
Alisi Tupuailei Centre 25 5 0 0 0  Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Colombo 21/05/2011
Kentaro Kodama Wing 25 5 0 0 0  South Korea Japan Kanagawa 30/04/2016
9 10 players on 4 tries

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[38]

Youngest players

# Player Pos Age Opposition Venue Date
1 Yoshikazu Fujita Wing 18 years and 210 days  United Arab Emirates Japan Fukuoka 05/05/2012
2 Christian Loamanu Wing 18 years and 338 days  Uruguay Uruguay Montevideo 16/04/2005
3 Ayumu Goromaru (Fullback) 19 years and 46 days  Uruguay Uruguay Montevideo 16/04/2005
4 Terunori Masuho Wing 19 years and 95 days  United States United States Chicago 04/05/1991
5 Faulua Makisi (Flanker) 19 years and 122 days  South Korea South Korea Incheon 21/05/2016
6 Seiji Hirao Centre 19 years and 129 days New Zealand NZ Universities New Zealand Pukekohe 30/05/1982
7 Dogo Maeda (Fly-half) 19 years and 152 days  South Korea Japan Kanagawa 30/04/2016
8 Kenji Shomen (Fly-half) 19 years and 165 days  South Korea South Korea Ulsan 13/10/2002
9 Masato Furukawa Flanker 19 years and 167 days  South Korea South Korea Incheon 21/05/2016
10 Yoshihito Yoshida Wing 19 years and 226 days England Oxford University Japan Tokyo 01/10/1988

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[39]

Oldest players

# Player Pos Age Opposition Venue Date
1 Luke Thompson Lock 38 years and 187 days  South Africa Japan Tokyo 20/10/2019
2 Hitoshi Ono Lock 38 years and 50 days  Scotland Japan Tokyo 25/06/2016
3 Wataru Murata Scrum-half 37 years and 145 days  Ireland Japan Tokyo 19/06/2005
4 Craig Wing Centre 35 years and 289 days  United States England Gloucester 11/10/2015
5 Hirotoki Onozawa (Wing) 35 years and 71 days  Wales Japan Osaka 08/06/2013
6 Hayden Hopgood (Lock) 35 years and 30 days  Uruguay Japan Tokyo 29/08/2015
Satoshi Nakatani Prop 35 years and 30 days  Fiji France Vannes 26/11/2016
8 Ross Thompson Number 8 34 years and 341 days  Canada Canada Vancouver 21/06/1998
9 Glen Marsh Flanker 34 years and 316 days New Zealand Junior All Blacks Japan Tokyo 24/06/2007
10 Shoji Ito (Lock) 34 years and 295 days  Scotland England Gloucester 23/09/2015

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[40]

See also

References

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External links