Saturday, November 10, 2012


RiJ has been working back through the history of Japan tests and this week looks at the third test played against the NZU on the Japan tour to New Zealand in 1974. Top League is in recess over November. The Japan squad embarked on a tour of Europe last Friday and RiJ lists the squad and schedule below. RiJ also profiles Yamaha this issue and updates the reader on university rugby.

Enjoy the read.

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


  • Japan Test Match & Player History Project: Japan tour to New Zealand: Test 3 v NZ University
  • Japan Rugby Top League 2012-13: Window Month-No games
  • Top League Profiles: Yamaha Motor Co. Jubilo.
  • Japan Tour to Europe 2012
  • University Rugby 2012-updated

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.

Japan Tour to New Zealand 1974: Test 3 v NZ University

In April and May 1974 Japan toured New Zealand for the second time playing eleven games on tour winning five, drawing one and losing five. Japan played three tests on tour, two against New Zealand Universities in Dunedin and Wellington and one against the Junior All Blacks in Auckland.

Japan toured New Zealand for the first time in 1968 playing one test each against the JAB and NZU. That particular tour is well and truly written into the history pages of Japanese international rugby for the 23-19 win over the Junior All Blacks at Athletic Park in Wellington on Monday, 03 June 1968. This win, along with the 28-24 win over Scotland XV in Tokyo in May 1989, ranks as one of the greatest wins for Japan on the world stage and over forty years on the result is fondly remembered and still much celebrated with the four tries scored by Yoshihiro Sakata one of the focal points. NZU beat Japan 25-16 in Wellington in the other test.

NZU had previously toured Japan in 1936 for one win and a draw, again in 1967 winning both tests played and on their third tour of Japan in 1970 beat Japan in three tests. However, these two sides also squared off in Wellington on the 1968 Japan tour of New Zealand with NZU also winning on that occasion. Thus, prior to this tour, Japan had played NZU seven times for a draw and six losses.

The JAB had previously toured Japan in 1958, beating Japan in all three tests on tour. However, these two sides also squared off in Wellington on the 1968 Japan tour of New Zealand with Japan winning on that occasion. Thus, prior to this tour, Japan had played the JAB four times for one win and three losses.

In total, prior to this tour, Japan had played New Zealand sides in the form of NZU and the JAB eleven times for one win, one draw and nine losses.

Following the loss in the second test in Auckland, Japan beat Victoria Massey Universities Combined in Palmerston North in the only lead-up game to the third test and final game of the tour against New Zealand Universities at Athletic Park in Wellington on Sunday, 26 May 1974. This was Test No.43 and Japan Game No.109. It was the third test for Ryo Saito as Japan coach number eleven, while hooker Kazumi Ohigashi was installed as captain Japan captain number twenty-three replacing halfback Ryozo Imazato who captained Japan in the previous test against the Junior All Blacks. This also made it the third captain in the three tests on tour after centre Akira Yokoi was captain in the opening test against NZU in Dunedin.

In the front row for Japan, Susumu Hara was recalled at tighthead for his eleventh test replacing Toshio Kurosaka to join Tsukasa Takada and Ohigashi while the second row partnership of Hiroshi Ogasawara and Toshio Terai was retained for the third test in a row on tour. Likewise, the backrow was kept intact with Yoshiaki Izawa and Takeo Ishizuka the flankers and Yoshihiro Murata at No8. Hiroaki Shukuzawa was brought in at halfback for Imazato in what would be his third and final test while Masakatsu Iguchi was outside him in the playmaking position. Elsewhere, the rest of the backline was unchanged from the previous test with Ken Aruga and Masaru Fujiwara the wings, Masao Yoshida and Shigetaka Mori the centres with Nobuyuki Ueyama the fullback.

In the non-test games on tour, Japan had managed to win four, draw one while losing three leaving behind a good impression with the locals. In the first test against NZU, the lead changed hands a number of times before the Varsities side pulled away over the final ten minutes to win 40-31 after both sides scored six tries apiece. However, in the second test against the Junior All Blacks, Japan had a much harder time of it going down 55-31 after the hosts outscored their visitors ten tries to five.

Prior to this test, Japan had played NZU eight times for a draw and seven losses but came up with their first win over the students when they took the Wellington test 24-21.

Left wing Ken Aruga opened the scoring with the first of his three tries in the fourth minute of the first half. Fullback Bruce Stephens then missed consecutive penalty attempts for the home side before Aruga and centre Shigetaka Mori combined in open space with Mori scooting away to touch down for the second Japanese try in 16th minute. After missing the first conversion fullback Nobuyuki Ueyama landed the second conversion to open up a 10-0 lead for Japan. Stephens narrowed the difference with a penalty in the 19th minute before loosehead prop Kent Lambert scooped on spilt ball at a lineout to score the first try for NZU in the 24th minute. Stephens could not add the extras leaving Japan in front 10-7. In the shadows of halftime the Japanese stretched their lead with the backs opening up space for Aruga to get his second try with the successful Ueyama conversion taking the sides to halftime with Japan holding a 16-7 lead.

NZU came out fast and hard in the opening exchanges of the second half with five-eighth Mike Ross Gard scoring the first try of the half in only the second minute of play with the Stephens conversion pegging back the score to 16-13. Tighthead prop Paul Sapsford then put his side in front for the first time with a try in the 5th from a counter-attack and although Stephens once again could not make the conversion NZU took a 17-16 lead. The scores remained unchanged for the next twenty minutes until Aruga brought up his hat-trick in the 29th minute. With Ueyama off the field due to a sprained ankle replaced by veteran wing Tadayuki Ito playing in his last test, five-eighth Iguchi took over the kicking duties but he could not convert the Aruga try. Nevertheless, importantly Japan hit the front 20-17 heading into the final ten minutes. The lead did not last long though as Gard got his second try in the 35th on the back of a maul following a line-out to once again make it a one point game with the hosts back in front 21-20. The crowning glory for Japan came in the 37th minute with right wing Masaru Fujiwara scoring in the right hand corner and although Iguchi failed with the conversion Japan did enough to hang on till the final bell to take the test 24-21. The lead changed four times throughout the second half with the Fujiwara try late in the test bringing up the first win for Japan over NZU in nine attempts stretching all the way back to 1936.

Japan scored five tries to four taking what few scoring opportunities they had with goal kicking also playing a crucial part in the result. Ueyama converted two of the first three tries but Iguchi missed both his conversion attempts while had Stephens had a better day with the boot he may have brought the game home for the New Zealand side as he missed two penalties and three conversions.

Game 1: Counties 42 d Japan 23, 25 April 1974, Pukekohe. (Japan Game Number 99)

Game 2: Japan 43 d Auckland Waikato Universities Combined 6, 28 April 1974, Hamilton. (Japan Game Number 100)

Game 3: Japan 19 d Taranaki 15, 01 May 1974, New Plymouth. (Japan Game Number 101)

Game 4: Poverty Bay 13 drew with Japan 13, 04 May 1974, Gisborne. (Japan Game Number 102)

Game 5: Canterbury Lincoln Universities Combined 70 d Japan 23, 07 May 1974, Christchurch. (Japan Game Number 103)

Game 6: Japan 23 d South Canterbury 18, 09 May 1974, Timaru. (Japan Game Number 104)

Game 7: New Zealand Universities 40 – Japan 31. Sunday, 12 May 1974, Carisbrook, Dunedin. (Test No.41, Japan Game No.105)

Game 8: Southland 39 d Japan 20, 15 May 1974, Invercargill. (Japan Game Number 106)

Game 9: Junior All Blacks 55 – Japan 31. Sunday, 19 May 1974, Eden Park, Auckland. (Test No.42, Japan Game No.107)

Game 10: Japan 42 d Victoria Massey Universities Combined 25, 22 May 1974, Palmerston North. (Japan Game Number 108)

Game 11: New Zealand Universities 21 – Japan 24. Sunday, 26 May 1974, Athletic Park, Wellington. (Test No.43, Japan Game No.109)

Japan Rugby Top League 2012-13

Window Month

Top League is on break over November.

Top League Profiles 2012-13

(8) Yamaha Motor Co. Jubilo.

2012-13 Introduction: Last season (2011-12) Yamaha finished eighth on the final table, an improvement on results from recent seasons. Yamaha were a major force in the early years of Top League but have finished mid table for most years since. Yamaha were also one of a number of company teams in Japan significantly affected by the Lehman Brothers Shock and cut back on their commitment to rugby by not renewing professional contracts. This was reflected in an eleventh place finish in the 2010-11 season that forced the team to play through the promotion and relegation play-offs for the first time to retain their place in Top League.

However, Jubilo have been slowly rebuilding and with Katsuyuki Kiyomiya coming on board as head coach last season, the confidence is coming back under his guidance. Another factor in the improved results last season was the maturing of fullback Ayumu Goromaru as a player and a goal-kicker. Goromaru was the leading point scorer in 2011-12 and his form virtually forced Eddie Jones to pick him as his leading fullback and goal-kicker in the national side in the spring. The influence of both Kiyomiya and Goromaru cannot be under-estimated in the 2012-13 season. Yamaha have recruited a number of promising university players over the past few seasons and with an emphasis on youth the team is building for the future. Former All Black backrowers Mose Tuiali’i and Jerry Collins are other important figures in the squad.

Established: Yamaha are relatively new on the corporate rugby scene in Japan having only been set up in 1984 and they are yet to win a major title. Yamaha are based in Iwata city, Shizuoka prefecture a few hours west of Tokyo.

Yamaha also support a more high profile soccer team with the same name of Jubilo with a lot of facilities, including the Iwata ground shared. The Jubilo part of the name comes from Spanish/Portuguese, meaning ‘jubilation’ and is intended to convey the meaning of bringing joy to the Yamaha fans and leaving a lasting impression of jubilation.

The team slogan for 2012-13 is “Yamaha Blue”. Yamaha dropped to eleventh place in the standings last season and as a result had to play through the promotion and relegation play-offs to retain their place in Top League for this season. Former Suntory head coach Katsuyuki Kiyomiya has been appointed as the new coach at Yamaha this season and he is helping to revitalise Jubilo. The club also wants to turn Yamaha Stadium into a sea of Yamaha Blue for home games.

The Company: motor vehicles, in particular motorbikes. Furthermore, Yamaha is a major manufacturer of marine craft and products such as fishing and cruising boats, yachts, outboard motors, diesel motors for boats and jet skis.


Top League – none; runners-up once (2004-5).

From the 2003-4 season to the 2005-6 season, Top League consisted of 12 teams and the team that finished on top of the table claimed the title. In the 2006-7 season, Top League was increased to 14 teams with the top four finishers on the ladder progressing to the Microsoft Cup, the play-off series to determine the overall Top League champion. From the 2009-10 season, the Microsoft company did not renew their naming rights sponsorship and so the finals series became known as the Top League Play-off Tournament.

2011-12 (14 teams): 8th on table on 35 points with 6 wins, a draw and 6 losses.

2010-11 (14 teams): 11th on table on 27 points with 5 wins and 8 losses. Beat Kyuden 12-10 in P&R Play-off.

2009-10 (14 teams): 9th on table on 30 points with 5 wins, 2 draws and 6 losses.

2008-9 (14 teams): 7th on table on 35 points with 7 wins and 6 losses.

2007-8 (14 teams): 7th on table on 37 points with 7 wins and 6 losses.

2006-7 (14 teams): 3rd on table on 48 points with 10 wins, a draw and 2 losses.

2005-6 (12 teams): 7th on table on 28 points with 5 wins and 6 losses.

2004-5 (12 teams): Runners-up. 2nd on table on 45 points with 9 wins and 2 losses.

2003-4 (12 teams): 3rd on table on 39 points with 8 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss.

Microsoft Cup – (as a standalone Cup 2004-2006) none; runners-up once (2005).

From 2004 to 2006 the Microsoft Cup was a separate knock-out tournament for the top 8 finishers in Top League. From 2007 the Microsoft Cup acted as the play-off finals series to determine the overall Top League champion with the top four finishers on the Top League ladder progressing to the Microsoft Cup. The Microsoft company did not renew their naming rights sponsorship for the 2009-10 Top League season and so the 2010 finals series became known as the Top League Play-off Tournament.

2009: DNQ.

2008: DNQ.

2007: lost to Suntory 39-40 in SF.

2006: knocked out by Suntory 17-35 in first round.

2005: Runners-up. Beat Kubota 38-33 in first round. Beat Toyota in semi after match drawn 33-all at fulltime & both captains drew straws! Lost 20-6 to Toshiba in final.

2004: knocked out by Toshiba 39-10 in first round.

National Championship – none.

After 22 teams participated in the 2004 National Championship it was reduced to 8 teams for 2005 consisting of the top four Top League sides, the top two universities, the top challenger from lower divisions and the top club side. In 2009 the number of teams was increased to ten with two additional Top League sides.

For 2010 the Wildcard Tournament was introduced to the National Championship for the Top League sides that finished fifth to tenth on the final table. In 2011 these six sides were: Kobe (fifth on 36 points), NEC (sixth on 34 points), Ricoh (seventh on 32 points), Sanix (eighth on 32 points), Kintetsu (ninth on 31 points) and Coca-Cola (tenth on 28 points). The teams played off over two weekends with Kobe and Ricoh winning the right to participate in the NC as the final two Top League participants. In 2012 the Wildcard Tournament was abbreviated to the four teams that finished fifth to eighth with fifth placed Kintetsu Liners playing eighth placed Yamaha Jubilo and sixth placed Kobe Steelers playing seventh placed Ricoh Black Rams. Kobe beat Ricoh 32-19 and Yamaha beat Kintetsu 17-15 with the winners thus qualifying for the up-coming 49th National Championship.

2012 (49th NC - 10 teams): Beat Kintetsu 17-15 in Wildcard to qualify. Lost to Toshiba 56-15 in first round.

2011 (48th NC - 10 teams): DNQ.

2010 (47th NC - 10 teams): Lost to Coca-Cola 31-17 in Wildcard Tournament and thus DNQ.

2009 (46th NC - 10 teams): DNQ as only top 6 TL teams qualified.

2008 (45th NC - 8 teams): DNQ as only top 4 TL teams qualified.

2007 (44th NC - 8 teams): beat KGU 53-14 in round 2 and lost to Toshiba 47-10 in SF.

2006 (43rd NC - 8 teams): DNQ as only top 4 TL teams qualified.

2005 (42nd NC - 8 teams): qualified as second seed, but knocked out in SFs by eventual champions NEC 24-13.

2004 (41st NC - 22 teams): beat World 36-20 in quarters, but lost to eventual champions Toshiba in SFs 33-12.

Corporate Championship – none. The Corporate Championship started in 1949 and ended with the 55th Corporate Championship in 2003 as a consequence of the introduction of Top League as the national corporate league in the 2003-4 season.

Colours: Yamaha wear a light blue jersey with dark blue shoulders, navy shorts and socks. The alternate strip uses a white jersey.

Style of Play: Yamaha finished high on the table in the first two seasons of Top League but dropped to seventh before rebounding the next season to third. Over the next two seasons, Yamaha finished well off the pace in seventh place. In 2009-10 Yamaha ninth but in 2010-11 they had their worst ever season when they finished eleventh, forcing them to go through the promotion and relegation play-offs for the first time where they beat Kyuden 12-10 to retain their place in Top League for this season. Last season improved to eighth but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

The Yamaha parent company announced in November 2009 that they would dramatically cut back on their commitment to rugby by not renewing the professional contracts they had with seventeen players, including all overseas players. Consequently, Yamaha had a number of senior players retire or move on to play with other clubs over that off-season such as former captain Hajime Kiso at No8, former All Black Reuben Thorn, South Africa Rory Duncan, fullback Kaoru Matsushita and halfback Takashi Sato. However, the good news for Yamaha was that a number of senior players, including halfback Yuki Yatomi, five-eighth Tatsuhiko Otao and fullback Ayumu Goromaru and several overseas players such as former All Black backrower Mose Tuiali’i have agreed to terms to stay with the club. Nevertheless, with only 36 registered players in the squad Jubilo had to get through the 2010-11 season with the smallest squad in the league. Most teams average about 45 players while Ricoh have the biggest squad with 56 registered players.

In 2011-12 there was light at the end of the tunnel for Yamaha Rugby. The company too seems to be loosening the purse strings with a healthy number of new players joining the club including former All Blacks backrower Jerry Collins. Another sign of the revitalisation at Jubilo last year was the signing of maverick coach Katsuyuki Kiyomiya to lead what continues to be a rebuilding process in the 2012-13 season. After the dark days that followed the Lehman Brothers shock, where rumour had it that Yamaha rugby was going to go under, the company and the team have bounced back and are looking to claim their place among the top sides in Top League. Yamaha may not be challenging for a top four finish this year but with the ship on a good course that may well be possible over the next few seasons. All-in-all, it is important for Top League and Japanese rugby that Yamaha are competitive and pushing the strongest sides in the league for titles.

With a much better balance both on and off the field this season Yamaha should be looking to climb the table from their eleventh placed finish to eighth last season. At fullback, Ayumu Goromaru is vital cog in the fortunes of the side with his goal-kicking ability.

Players to Watch: Although Yamaha lost a lot of quality players and staff at the end of the 2009-10 season they managed to hold onto a solid enough core of players on which to rebuild the team.

In 2012-13, prominent players in the forwards are props Ryo Yamamura and Kohei Maeda along with the likes of lock Naoki Nishi, Fijian representative backrower Deryck Thomas flanker Yuta Kasahara and former All Blacks and Crusaders backrower Mose Tuiali’i. The biggest name signing at Yamaha last season was former All Blacks and Hurricanes backrower Jerry Collins who is playing in Japan for the second season.

In the backs, former Japan halfback and club vice-captain Yuki Yatomi is now in his sixth season with Yamaha after graduating from Waseda University while the seasoned Tatsuhiko Otao once again is shaping up as the main playmaker. In the midfield, former Counties centre Male Sau is in his fifth season this year and he is starting to come to the attention of Japan national selectors and together with Siale Piutau should form a formidable combination while a lot more responsibility will fall on former Waseda fullback Ayumu Goromaru this season as the principle goal-kicker. Out wide, there are high expectations on wings So Kil-Ryong, who is another player on the Japan shopping list and Shinji Nakazono regularly getting across the line.

Cap holders for Japan in the current squad: (4)

In 2012, in the HSBC A5N series, Yamaha were represented by fullback Ayumu Goromaru who was recalled under in-coming head coach Eddie Jones. The fact that Goromaru was the leading points scorer and goal kicker in Top League in the 2011-12 season did not go unnoticed either with Jones making him first choice fullback, kicker and vice-captain in the series. In the IRB PNC series, Yamaha were again represented by Goromaru who started in all three tests in the series. Furthermore, prop Masakazu Nagano was also included in the squad but failed to make the XXIIs in any of the tests and remains uncapped.

In 2011, in the HSBC A5N series, the ANZ PNC series, the two warm-up tests for the 2011 RWC against Italy (away) and the USA (home) and the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, Yamaha were not represented.

In 2010, in the HSBC A5N and the ANZ PNC series, Yamaha were not represented. In the home autumn tests against Samoa and Russia, Coca-Cola were represented by Ayumu Goromaru who started at fullback against Samoa.

In 2009, in the HSBC A5N and the ANZ PNC series, halfback Yuki Yatomi, five-eighth Tatsuhiko Otao and fullback/wing Ayumu Goromaru all took part in the two series. In the two home tests against Canada in November, Yamaha were represented by halfback Yatomi and fullback Goromaru.

For Otao it was a long time coming for him to play his second test. He made his debut from the bench against Wales on the ill-fated European tour in November 2004 in a forgettable test for Japan who went down 98-0.

Goromaru was a late inclusion in the spring squad after Yamaha team mate Kaoru Matsushita was ruled out with injury. Goromaru made his test debut from the bench against Uruguay on the South American tour in the spring of 2005 as a 19-year-old from Waseda University and went on to play three more tests that season. He again came on late in the test against Romania as a reserve in the 2005 Super Powers Cup before making his run-on debut in the final against Canada. He earned his fourth cap from the bench in the second test against the touring Irish a few weeks later but that was the last of his internationals until 2009. Under then coach Mitsutake Hagimoto, Goromaru was being nurtured as the next super star in Japanese rugby but he was ignored under subsequent coaches Jean Pierre Elissalde and John Kirwan.

In 2008, in the inaugural Asian Five Nations tournament, Yamaha were represented by halfback Takashi Sato who started in one of the four tests and came on from the bench in the other three and centre Shotaro Onishi. In the Pacific Nations Cup, Yamaha were represented by centre Onishi. In the two home tests against the USA in November 2008, flanker Hajime Kiso, wing Koji Tomioka and fullback Kaoru Matsushita represented Yamaha. Both Tomioka and Matsushita made their international debuts in the series with Tomioka starting on the left wing in both tests while Matsushita started at fullback in both tests. Tomioka left Yamaha at the end of the 2008-9 season to join NTT Docomo. Halfback Yuki Yatomi was also a part of the 30-man squad but he did not see any game time.

At the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, Yamaha was represented by lock Hajime Kiso who played as No8 against Australia and came on as a reserve against Wales and Canada. Tighthead prop Ryo Yamamura started in the No3 jersey against Australia and then came on as a replacement in the other 3 games. Inside centre Shotaro Onishi started against Fiji, Wales and Canada, and ended the tournament as the golden boy when he kicked the final conversion to give Japan the draw against Canada. Yuki Yatomi was the run on halfback against Australia and came on as a reserve against Fiji. Yatomi injured his left ankle against Fiji and that ended his tournament.

Ryo YAMAMURA (427) 31 y/o, 39 caps at tighthead prop.

Yuki YATOMI (481) 27 y/o, 13 caps at halfback.

Ayumu GOROMARU (467) 26 y/o, 18 caps at wing/fullback.

Tatsuhiko OTAO (460) 30 y/o, 7 caps at five-eighth/wing.

Shigeyasu TAKAGI (468) 37 y/o, 5 caps at prop. Retired at end of 2011-12 season.

The Coach: Katsuyuki Kiyomiya (45, 17/07/1967) is in his second season as head coach at Yamaha in the 2012-13 season. On 1 March 2011, Yamaha officially announced that Kiyomiya would be the new head coach for the 2011-12 season. Hiroyuki Yanagi, an official with the Yamaha company noted that the company as a whole, including the rugby team underwent considerable restructuring over the past few years but for the coming 2011-12 season the company was looking to rebuild the rugby team to make it once again highly competitive in Top League and taking on Kiyomiya as the new head coach was part of that process.

Kiyomiya was born in Osaka on 17 July 1967 and started playing rugby when he entered the Osaka Prefectural Matta High School (大阪府立茨田高校) in 1983 from where he captained the Japan Schoolboys side in 1985.

He entered the Education Faculty at Waseda University in April 1986 and become a regular in the first XV from his first year. As a second year student, Waseda won the university championship title and also went on to win the 25th National Championship with a 22-16 win over Toshiba Fuchu in January 1988, the most recent university side to win the national title. In his fourth and final year at Waseda, Kiyomiya was captain as they went on to win the university title when they beat Nihon Sports University 45-14 in the final of the 26th National University Championship final in January 1990, although they were eventually beaten 58-4 by Kobe in the 27th National Championship final.

After graduating from university, Kiyomiya joined Suntory in April 1990 as a No8. He captained the side for three seasons from 1992 to 1994 and as a player at Suntory he was part of the side that won the 48th Corporate Championship (shared with Sanyo after final drawn 27-all) and then the 33rd National Championship title when they beat Meiji University 49-24 at the National Stadium in Tokyo on 15 January 1996.

He retired as a player at Suntory in March 2001 but went back to Waseda the following month as the new head coach. Kiyomiya spent 5 years as coach at Waseda where he took his students to 5 National University Championship finals in a row where they faced Kanto Gakuin University in all five finals. Waseda won 3 of those 5 finals under Kiyomiya winning 27-22 in 2003 (39th NUC), 31-19 in 2005 (41st NUC) and 41-5 in 2006 (42nd NUC). Waseda qualified for the National Championship every year under Kiyomiya but it was in his final year with the university that is most memorable as Waseda beat Toyota 28-24 in the second round of the 43rd National Championship in 2006 and although they then lost 43-0 to Toshiba in the semi-finals this still stands as the most recent university side to beat a Top League side in the National Championship.

Kiyomiya then took over as head coach at Suntory Sungoliath in April 2006 from Yoji Nagatomo who had the job for the previous three years. As the fourth season of Top League in 2006-7, the league was expanded from 12 to 14 teams and the Microsoft Cup became the new finals series for the top four finishers. In his first year as head coach, Suntory finished second on the table and reached the Microsoft Cup final where they went down to Toshiba 14-13. In 2007-8, Suntory again finished second on the table and again made the Microsoft Cup final where they beat Sanyo 14-10 to take their first Top League title. The 44th National Championship final that season was a repeat of the Microsoft Cup final only this time Sanyo took the title 40-18. In his third season in charge in 2008-9, Suntory finished third on the table but were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Microsoft Cup. However, with the National Championship expanded from 8 to 10 teams with an additional two Top League sides in 2009, Suntory made the final where they again faced Sanyo, with Kiyomiya’s side losing 24-16. The 2009-10 season proved to be his fourth and final year as head coach at Suntory. Although the Sungoliath finished second on the table they were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Top League Play-off tournament and then in the first round of the 47th National Championship. Kiyomiya then decided to step aside for Eddie Jones to take over as head coach and thus he sat out the 2010-11 season.

Before Kiyomiya, Takanobu Horikawa was head coach for 2010-11 replacing Kevin Schuler. Horikawa is no stranger to the coaching ranks at Yamaha, however, as he was coach for three seasons from 2006-7 to 2008-9, often in partnership with Schuler. In previous years, Jun Sano (2005-6), Grant Batty (2004-5) and Tabai Matson (player/coach in 2003-4) coached at Yamaha.

The Captain: Flanker Yuta Kasahara (30/091984) is the new captain at Yamaha for the 2012-13 season. Kasahara is in his sixth year with the club and takes over in the role from flanker Yoshikazu Kushida (29/12/1980) who was captain for the two previous season in 2011-12 and 2010-11 and retired at the end of the 2011-12 season. Prop Ryo Yamamura was captain for two seasons before that taking over from No8 Hajime Kiso (moved to NTT Communications at end of 2009-10 season) who captained Yamaha for the three previous years. Flanker Koichi Kubo who retired at the end of the 2008-9 season was captain in the first two seasons of Top League over 2003-4 and 2004-5.

Halfback Yuki Yatomi is the vice-captain for 2012-13.

Losses: (5)

Shigeyasu TAKAGI (468) 37 y/o (16/10/1975), prop, 180/110, 5 caps for Japan, into company workforce after 14 years with club.

Yoshikazu KUSHIDA, 31 y/o (29/12/1980), flanker, 180/92, into company workforce after 9 years with club.

Yusuke NAKAGAKI, 32 y/o (05/10/1980), centre, 173/84, into company workforce after 9 years with club.

Benjaminrae YAGI, 24 y/o (05/03/1988), wing, 175/82, from Ryutsu Keizai Univ, to NZ after 2 years with club.

Tane TUIPULOTU (Tonga), 31 y/o (07/02/1981), centre/wing, 186/98, to Newcastle Falcons after one year with club.

Gains: (10)

Takeshi HINO, 22 y/o (20/01/1990), hooker, 172/95, from Doshisha Univ.

Yuya ODO, 22 y/o (09/03/1990), lock/flanker, 187/100, from Ritsumeikan Univ.

Kazuki YAMAJI, 22 y/o (12/02/1990), flanker/No8, 180/100, from Tenri Univ.

Shinya OYAMA, 19 y/o (02/04/1993), flanker/wing, 180/85, from Kyoto Seijo HS.

Motohiro AOKI, 22 y/o (28/12/1989), halfback/wing, 174/76, from Tsukuba Univ.

Yoshinori SOGABE, 28 y/o (06/05/1984), five-eighth, 178/80, from Suntory 2007-8 to 2011-12.

Ryoma KUDO, 27 y/o (30/09/1989), five-eighth/wing/centre, 172/76, from Ritsumeikan Univ.

Siale PIUTAU (NZL), 27 y/o (13/10/1985), centre/wing, 185/97, 9 caps for Tonga, Chiefs 2010, Highlanders 2011 and 2012.

Patrice OLIVIER (Philippines/France), 22 y/o (07/01/1990), wing/centre/fullback, 191/95, 4 caps for Philippines, from Beziers, France.

Chikara ITO, 22 y/o (11/01/1990), wing/fullback, 173/80, from Ryukoku Univ.

Overseas Players and Staff: (7)

Deryck THOMAS (Fiji/Japan), 27 y/o (08/04/1985), lock/flanker/No8, 194/115, 6th year, from Hakuo Uni. He represented Fiji U18s in 2002 and has 3 caps for Fiji.

Male SA’U (NZL), 25 y/o (13/10/1987), five-eighth/centre, 183/98, 5th year, NZ U19s & U21s, ANC Counties-Manukau.

Mose TUIALI’I (NZL), 31 y/o (25/03/1981), flanker/No8, 191/110, 4th year, 9 caps for All Blacks, S12/14 Crusaders (2004 to 2008).

Jerry COLLINS (NZL), 32 y/o (04/11/1980), flanker/No8, 190/110, 2nd year, 48 caps for All Blacks, Hurricanes, Toulon, Ospreys.

Manase FOLAU (Japan/Tonga), 31 y/o (06/05/1981), lock/flanker/No8, 188/108, 2nd year, Saitama IoT, Toyota Industries, Tamariva.

Siale PIUTAU (NZL), 27 y/o (13/10/1985), centre/wing, 185/97, 1st year, 9 caps for Tonga, Chiefs 2010, Highlanders 2011 and 2012.

Patrice OLIVIER (Philippines/France), 22 y/o (07/01/1990), wing/centre/fullback, 191/95, 1st year, 4 caps for Philippines, from Beziers, France.

The 2012-13 Squad: (48) The list starts with captain and vice-captains then continues through forwards and backs in order from props to fullbacks. Family names come last.

Yuta Kasahara (c), Yuki Yatomi (v-c). Forwards: Yoshikazu Tamura, Ryo Yamamura, Satoshi Nakatani, Kohei Maeda, Naoya Kishi, Hisashi Sakaigawa, Masakazu Nagano, Daisuke Nonaka, Yuki Yamakawa, Keita Kato, Shogo Naka, Takeshi Hino, Keisuke Yagishita, Deryck Thomas, Naoki Nishi, Kohei Saita, Yuya Odo, Jerry Collins, Mose Tuiali’i, Manase Folau, Teppei Yagi, Akinori Kawamoto, Yuhimaru Mimura, Kazuki Yamaji and Shinya Oyama. Backs: Yoshiyuki Koike, Shinya Ikemachi, Motohiro Aoki, Tatsuhiko Otao, Yoshinori Sogabe, Mototaka Koshimura, Male Sau, Masatoshi Miyazawa, Ryoma Kudo, Koji Misumi, Katsunori Imoto, Hiroyuki Tsudaka, Hiromi Endo, So Kil-Ryong, Siale Piutau, Shinji Nakazono, Shota Tanaka, Shingo Ito, Patrice Olivier, Chikara Ito and Ayumu Goromaru. Coach: Katsuyuki Kiyomiya (45).

Japan Tour to Europe 2012

Japan will tour Europe in the autumn of 2012 with tests against Romania in Bucharest on Saturday 10 November and Georgia in Tbilisi on Saturday 17 November and non-test matches against a Basque Selection on Wednesday 21 November and the French Barbarians on Sunday 25 November. This will be the first time Japan have toured in November since the tour to Europe in November 2004.

Japan Squad

On 5 September 2012, the JRFU announced the schedule for the tour.

On 24 October 2012, the JRFU announced the 30-man squad for the tour including 16 forwards and 14 backs.

On 27 October 2012, the JRFU announced that lock Toshizumi Kitagawa and backrower Daiki Hashimoto were forced to quit the tour due to injury.

On 28 October 2012, the JRFU announced that hooker Haruki Ota and lock Luke Thompson, were added to the tour.

On 30 October 2012, the JRFU announced that hooker Yusuke Aoki was forced to quit the tour due to injury.

On 1 November 2012, the JRFU announced that lock Shinya Makabe was added to the tour.

Japan Squad for Tour of Europe 2012








Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers





Yusuke NAGAE

Ricoh Black Rams





Yusuke AOKI

Suntory Sungoliath






Panasonic Wild Knights





Haruki OTA

Kintetsu Liners






Suntory Sungoliath






Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers






Toshiba Brave Lupus





Hitoshi ONO

Toshiba Brave Lupus





Shoji ITO

Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers





Toshizumi KITAGAWA

Toyota Verblitz






Suntory Sungoliath






Kintetsu Liners






Ricoh Black Rams





Hendrik TUI

Panasonic Wild Knights





Michael LEITCH

Toshiba Brave Lupus






Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers






Toyota Verblitz





Ryu Koliniasi HOLANI

Panasonic Wild Knights





Fumiaki TANAKA

Panasonic Wild Knights





Atsushi HIWASA

Suntory Sungoliath





Kosei ONO

Suntory Sungoliath





Harumichi TATEKAWA

Kubota Spears






Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers





Akihito YAMADA

Panasonic Wild Knights





Tomohiro SEMBA

Toshiba Brave Lupus






NEC Green Rockets






Suntory Sungoliath






Panasonic Wild Knights





Hirotoki ONOZAWA

Suntory Sungoliath





Toshiaki HIROSE (c)

Toshiba Brave Lupus






Yamaha Jubilo





Atsushi TANABE

Panasonic Wild Knights





Eddie Jones, head coach, JRFU.
Masahiro Kunda, assistant coach, JRFU.
Scott Wisemantel, technical adviser, JRFU.
John Pryor, strength and conditioning coordinator, JRFU.
Masanori Ota, strength and conditioning coach, JRFU.
Yuji Takazawa, team doctor, Juntendo University.
Hidenori Izawa, physiotherapist, Dome Co., Ltd.
Junnosuke Aono, physiotherapist, JRFU.
Shota Nakajima, analyst, JRFU.
Takenori Omura, team manager, JRFU.
Julia Nakazawa, translator, Field of Dreams.
Mayuko Watanabe, media manager, JRFU.


Game 1:
Romania v Japan
Date: Saturday 10 November 2012
Venue: National Rugby Stadium, Bucharest, Romania
Kick-off: 15:00 (local time, -7 hours Japan time)

Game 2:
Georgia v Japan
Date: Saturday 17 November 2012
Venue: Mikheil Meskhi (Lokomotivi) Stadium, Tbilisi, Georgia
Kick-off: 15:00 (local time, -5 hours Japan time)

Game 3:
Basque Selection v Japan XV
Date: Wednesday 21 November 2012
Venue: Parc des Sports Aguilera Stadium, Biarritz, France
Kick-off: 19:00 (local time, -8 hours Japan time)

Game 4:
French Barbarians v Japan XV
Date: Sunday 25 November 2012
Venue: Stade Oceane, Le Havre, France
Kick-off: 15:00 (local time, -8 hours Japan time)

University Rugby 2012

The major university rugby leagues kicked off around the country over September and early October with schools in the Kanto area now having played between three and five of their seven round games while the Kansai league schools have now all played four games.

Kanto Taiko

(Teikyo University, Waseda University, Meiji University, Tsukuba University, Keio Gijuku University, Aoyama Gakuin University, Nippon Sports Science University and Rikkyo University.)

In the Kanto Taiko competition, Teikyo as the defending national university champions and Meiji have both won their first four games while Waseda and Tsukuba have three wins and one loss from their opening four games. Keio have won one and lost two, Nippon Sports Science have won one and lost three leaving Aoyama Gakuin and Rikkyo still looking for their first wins.

Kanto League

(Ryutsu Keizai University, Tokai University, Kanto Gakuin University, Daitobunka University, Hosei University, Nihon University, Chuo University and Takushoku University.)

In the Kanto League competition, Ryutsu Keizai have won five straight and Tokai have won straight wins to push ahead in the early stages of the competition with 20 points and 16 points respectively. Nihon are the next best placed school on 14 points from three wins and two losses while Takushoku have 11 points from two wins and three losses. Hosei and Chuo both have 10 points from two wins and two losses but Kanto Gakuin have 5 points from 5 losses and Daitobunka have 4 points after four opening losses.

Kansai League

(Tenri University, Doshisha University, Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences, Ritsumeikan University, Kwansei Gakuin University, Kinki University, Kyoto Sangyo University and Setsunan University.)

After the fourth round of matches, Tenri and Ritsumeikan have both had four wins. Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences, Kwansei Gakuin and Kinki have all had two wins and two losses while Kyoto Sangyo and Doshisha have one win for three losses leaving Setsunan without a win.

Last up-dated: Wednesday, 31 October 2012.

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