Monday, September 3, 2012


RiJ has been working back through the history of Japan tests and this week looks at the second ARFU Asian Rugby Championship in 1970. Meanwhile, the Japan U20s are having to go through qualification for the IRB JWRT in HK at the moment, though there is no update on that this week. RiJ also tries to make some sense of the changes set to beset TL from the 2013-14 season with a practical example of how things might look.

Enjoy the read.

Ian McDonnell lives and works in Japan. He can be contacted at


  • Japan Test Match & Player History Project: 1970 Asia Rugby Championship.

The Japan Test Match & Player History Project

For nine years now RiJ has been documenting Japanese rugby across various levels of the game. More recently, however, RiJ has recognised the need to accurately document the history of Japanese test match rugby and the players that have represented Japan down through the years. With this in mind, RiJ has embarked on a project to write the history of Japanese international rugby, detail every test that Japan has played and profile every player that has represented Japan.

The 1970 ARFU Asian Rugby Championship

NB: ARFU and A5N websites refer to this tournament as the Asian Rugby Football Tournament (ARFT), whereas Wikipedia uses the Asian Rugby Championship (ARC).

On 15 December 1968, Japan, South Korea, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Ceylon (name changed to Sri Lanka in 1972) and Thailand met and as the eight charter Unions formed the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU). Another outcome of the get-together was the setting up of a pan-Asia rugby tournament, the ARFU Asian Rugby Championship.

The inaugural ARFU Asian Rugby Championship was held in Tokyo from 8-16 March 1969 with hosts Japan along with South Korea, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong and Thailand the five participating countries and regions. The inaugural championship was played on a round robin basis with Japan winning all of their four games to claim the title.

The second Championship was held in Bangkok in January 1970 after which the tournament was held biannually through to the nineteenth and final edition in 2004. The ARC evolved into the HSBC Asian Five Nations from 2005 with the original ARC trophy now contested in the Division 1 competition.

The 1970 ARFU Asian Rugby Championship was held in Bangkok from 11-18 January 1970 with Japan, South Korea and Singapore in Group A and Thailand, Hong Kong, Ceylon and Malaysia in Group B the seven participating teams. (Wikipedia states only five teams participated in 1970 with South Korea the runner-up)

In Group A, the decisive 12-9 win by Thailand over Hong Kong got the hosts into the final while In Group B, the Japan XV side beat Singapore 46-17 (Japan game number 61) in their opening game on 11 January 1970, and then beat South Korea 23-9 (Japan game number 62) in a gruelling encounter on 13 January 1970 to top the group and advance to the final to play Thailand.

Japan XV 46 d Singapore 17, 11 January 1970, Bangkok. (Japan Game No.61)

Japan XV 23 d South Korea 9, 13 January 1970, Bangkok. (Japan Game No.62)

Japan 42 – Thailand 11. Sunday, 18 January 1970, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. (Test No.28, Japan Game No.63)

Only the match against Thailand in the final is counted as an official test with caps awarded in Japanese statistics. Japan played as Japan XV in the games against Singapore and Korea.

In what was to be the first of five tests for the year, in test number twenty-eight, Japan were coached by Tetsunosuke Onishi who as the eighth national coach was starting his fourth year of what would be five straight years in the job. Toyota outside centre Masayoshi Ozaki as the seventeenth national captain and incumbent captain played in the two group games but was unavailable due to injury for the final and so 28-year-old Tadayuki Ito as the elder statesman in the team playing in his sixth test became the nineteenth player to captain Japan.

Five-eighth Tadamasa Fujimoto and centre Akira Yokoi were also added to the injury list early in the tournament and they too were unavailable for the final with Tsutomu Katsuraguchi moving into the playmaking position while centre Makoto Mizutani came into the starting line-up in the decider for his first test.

In what was the first official test, and to date only test played between Japan and Thailand, the Japanese were far too good for their hosts scoring eight tries to one to cruise to a 42-11 win and take their second ARC title. The responsibility of captaining his country for the first time did not affect the performance of Ito from the right wing as he ran in a hat-trick of tries for the third time in six tests while elsewhere, the backs contributed to the win with right wing Yoshihiro Sakata touching down twice, while inside centre Mizutani got a double on debut with fullback Katsuji Mantani completing the try scoring. After missing the first ARC in Tokyo the previous year, flanker Yoshiharu Yamaguchi was back in the side for his third of what would end up being thirteen tests for Japan and he added three conversions and four penalties.

Four players played their first internationals for Japan in this test, along with inside centre Mizutani, his centre partner in Fumiharu Shimazaki, No8 Satoru Matsuoka and prop Masaaki Shimozono also made their debuts. Meanwhile, wings Ito and Sakata were the most capped players in the side with six caps each.

The 42-11 win also was the highest score Japan had achieved in twenty-eight tests, surpassing the 38-5 win over Canada in Tokyo in 1932. Japan scored eight tries on both occasions, however, the winning margin of 33 points in the 1932 test still bettered the 31 point margin in this test against Thailand.

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