Japan National Rugby Union Team
One of the emerging teams of world rugby finally seems to have discovered its potential. Japan have come through stronger from the tough lessons of the past, and today’s squad are finding their style. Building on a tradition of industrious and intelligent play, a new generation have added vision and flair, which has got fans at home and abroad rightly excited about the next stage in their rugby journey. The decision to host the 2019 World Cup in Japan proves that the nation has finally arrived. Check out the latest matches with Japan Rugby Union Tickets from StubHub!
Japanese Rugby – history and tradition
The roots of the game in Japan run surprisingly deep. Though the fan base is still developing, club players and supporters have embraced the game and added their own brilliant take on rugby’s values and culture. The national sevens team regularly appears at the Hong Kong and Singapore tournaments, while the domestic Top League has given players who have come through Japanese system the chance to compete alongside the likes of Shane Williams, George Gregan and Ma’a Nonu. Japan has had to strike a balance between homegrown talent and imported expertise. The inclusion of too few – then too many – foreign-born players was a point of contention for Mitsutake Hagimoto and John Kirwan in the 2000s, as the team struggled to convert their promise into winning performances at World Cups. This unwanted record was to be broken in the most spectacular way.
Japanese rugby fans have had many individual moments of excitement to enjoy. Yoshihito Yoshida’s footballing ability lit up a memorable win against a Scotland XV in 1989, with an incisive running line, a turn of pace and a chip-and-gather to beat the fullback. Two years later, at the World Cup, he was at it again, burning past the Irish wing to create a stunning try. But a pool-stage victory remained elusive. Fast forward to 2015, when Japan faced a South African team packed with stars. Playing alert, ball-in-hand rugby, and aided by Ayumu Goromaru’s kicking, the Cherry Blossoms never looked outclassed, and ended the first half only 12-10 behind. With minutes left, Japan were still in touch, and drove closer to the South African line. After regular time had elapsed, they chose not to kick a penalty that would have earned a 32-32 draw, opting for a scrum against the Springboks' experienced but tiring pack. Japanese nerves held as they worked an overlap for Karne Hesketh to dive for the corner, completing one of the most famous upsets in the game.
Follow the team with tickets to rugby union internationals. Or enjoy a traditional showcase of world rugby stars with the Barbarians?