Japan Rugby

by Kevin R Burns
(Kanagawa, Japan)

Japan Rugby will host the World Cup!

The Top League

The top league is Japan`s semi-professional rugby league, and they hope to raise the level of rugby in Japan, and generate more interest in the sport here. Japan has risen in the world rankings, and part of the reason undoubtedly is because of the Top League

"In an effort to drive up the overall standard and popularity of rugby and improve the results of the Japan national rugby union team, the Japan Rugby Football Union created a new professional 12-team league, called the Top League. The first season was 2003-4. From the 2006-7 season the league was expanded to include 14 teams like the Super 14 and the Top 14.

The chief architect of the league was Hiroaki Shukuzawa who strongly felt the urgency of improving Japanese domestic company rugby to a professional level which would allow Japan to compete more convincingly at Rugby World Cups. Many full-time foreign professionals (mainly from Australia and New Zealand) have played in the Top League, notably Tony Brown and George Gregan."

--Read more about the Top League (in English) at Wikipedia

Talking in Codes : Top League Rugby Union (Rugby in Japan, part 1)

Posted by stefanole from Sanfrecceole

Toshiba's Neil BREW attempts to power through a tackle - stefanole

My first taste of Top League rugby came on a Sunday in November, the day after I saw J. League newcomers Fagiano Okayama in action at their home ground, the Momotaro Stadium. The games in Fukuoka and Kobe were similarly played at Association football grounds, rather than dedicated rugby football facilities (Avispa Fukuoka’s Level 5 Stadium and Vissel Kobe’s Home’s Stadium respectively).

These games were not the first time I had seen rugby in Japan, but they were my first with Claire (an Okayama JET). Back in May, I had gone with a friend to Osaka to catch a couple of games at the 2009 IRB Junior World Championship (which was eventually won by New Zealand, and in which Japan finished 15th of 16 teams). The games were played at the Kintetsu Hanazono Rugby Stadium, the oldest dedicated rugby union stadium in Japan (opened in 1929).

I must admit that prior to that, I was largely ignorant of the extent of rugby participation in Japan, although this is partly due to the fact that there are no professional (i.e. Top League) teams in the Chugoku area. The game we saw in Okayama was a one-off fixture, though there was also a one-off game in Hiroshima that we were unable to go to. There is a Hiroshima rugby team however, the Mazda Blue Zoomers, which competes in the amateur Top Kyushu A League. After winning their league, they are set for a playoff against teams from the Kansai and Kanto leagues, to win a place in next year’s Top League. Since I am planning on going to that game, I will write a follow-up report at a later date, with a more in-depth analysis of the league system (since there is next to zero information in English on the Internet).

Japanese University Rugby

There is a very active, and strong university rugby league in Japan. I teach at a university that has one of the stronger teams in Japan. You may want to check out a game or watch one on SkyPerfec TV, the satellite TV provider in Japan, or on regular Japanese cable TV.

University Championship Rugby in Japan
All Japan Rugby Football Championship

The All-Japan Reugby Football Championship is played annually and it includes a champion club team, some top university teams and the Top League teams.

All Japan Championship

Japan Rugby -- Watanabe Dies Mysteriously

Former Japan international rugby player Yasunori Watanabe died after falling in front of a train over the weekend, police said on Monday.

Watanabe, 35, fell onto the track from a platform at the Kamakura station in the south of Tokyo and was run over by an incoming train late on Saturday.

The former flanker was capped 32 times - scoring eight tries - and played in three consecutive rugby World Cups from 1999 to 2007.
Japanese Rugby News

You can get the Japan national rugby team news at the two links below. The first one is the official site of the JRFU.

Japan Qualifies for Rugby World Cup

Japan qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup when they thrashed Hong Kong 94-5 to secure top place in the Asian Five Nations tournament on Saturday.

It will be the seventh straight World Cup for Japan, who join hosts New Zealand, France, Tonga and Canada in Pool A of next year's showpiece.

Japan to Compete in 7th Straight World Cup!
Asian Rugby Football Union -- ARFU

Japan Rugby -- The ARFU

The ARFU sponsors the Asian 7s series and Asian 5 Nations as well as other tournaments. See the ARFU site for upcoming events in Japan and other parts of Asia.

"The Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) is the governing body of rugby in Asia under the authority of the International Rugby Board. Founded in 1968 by eight charter nations, ARFU today has 26 members across Asia, stretching from the Jordan in the West to Japan in the East and from Mongolia in the North to Indonesia in the South. The vision of ARFU is "To create a sustainable, vibrant and competitive rugby culture for all stakeholders, which supports and develops the game in the Region". ARFU also supports regional and pan-Asian tournaments, including women's, men's, and junior competitions in both Rugby Sevens and fifteen-a-side rugby. ARFU is deeply committed to growing the game across the Region."

--from the ARFU Homepage (Link above)

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