Wednesday, April 3, 2013


RiJ details Japan at the Hong Kong Sevens in 2013 with the Japanese again finding the going tough at this level of the game. Junior Japan continue they way in the Pacific Rugby Cup with three games under their belt on the Australian leg of the tour. There is also a full wrap of the successful Japan High Schools tour to Italy and France where they won three of four games.

Enjoy the read.

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


  • Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2013
  • Junior Japan at the Pacific Rugby Cup 2013
  • Japan High Schools Tour of Italy and France 2013
  • IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2013


Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2013

On 16 January 2013, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) announced that 28 teams would participate in the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2013 to be held in Hong Kong from 22-24 March 2013. This year with be the thirty-eighth running of the Hong Kong Sevens and the event will host 28 teams for the first time, up from the 24-team format that has been in place since 1984. The official tournament draw was held in Hong Kong on Thursday 21 February 2013.

The Hong Kong leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series is the premier event of the world circuit with its tradition, excitement and expanded twenty-four team format. Held at the 40,000 seat Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong is the only event of the annual nine leg series that has twenty-four teams over three days, whereas all the other events have sixteen teams, mostly held over two days.

In 2013, Hong Kong will again see two side-by-side tournaments with the 16-team HSBC Sevens World Series competition for the 15 core teams plus Hong Kong as winners of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012 , and a 12-team pre-qualification tournament for promotion to HSBC SWS core team status in 2014. Japan will participate in the pre-qualification tournament as the second ranked side in Asia. Hong Kong was the sixth stage of the nine stage season. Japan were in Pool F in Competition Two along with Brazil, Jamaica and Georgia. Japan beat Brazil 17-10 on the opening day and then went on with the job on Saturday beating Jamaica 43-0 and Georgia 26-7 to make a clean sweep on their pool. Japan were then again matched up against Georgia in the Qualifier Quarterfinals but this time the Georgians had their revenge with a 17-0 win to bring the Japan campaign at Hong Kong for 2013 to an end. More importantly though, the loss also meant Japan was out of the running to qualify for core status. For the record, Zimbabwe beat Tonga 22-19 in the Qualifier final, while elsewhere, France won the Shield, England the Bowl, Samoa the Plate while in the Cup final, Fiji came from 19-0 down at halftime to beat Wales 26-19 to back up the title they won in 2012. Fittingly, Fiji Sevens legend Waisea Serevi was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame during this tournament.

In 2012, Hong Kong was the sixth stage of the nine stage season. Japan were in Pool F in Competition Two along with Russia, the Portugal and Guyana. Japan lost to Russia 14-7 on the opening day and then went down to Portugal 26-22 early on day two before beating Guyana 38-5 in their final pool game. Japan finished third in their pool and this put them up against hosts Hong Kong in the Qualifier Quarterfinals. The scores were locked at 5-all at halftime and then again at fulltime forcing the match to go into extra time where Japan scored first to win 10-5. In the Qualifier Semi-finals against Spain the scores were locked at 12-all at the end of regular time leading to another bout of extra time. This time, however, it was Spain that scored first to beat Japan 17-12. In the Qualifier Third Place play-off, Japan once again met Portugal and once again the Portuguese came out on top winning 33-19. All-in-all, Japan won two and lost four in Hong Kong in 2012. For the record, Canada beat Spain 22-5 in the Qualifier final, Samoa beat Argentina 12-10 in the Plate final while in the big one, Fiji claimed the Cup prize when they beat New Zealand 35-28 in the main final. Canada and Spain as the Qualifier finalists and Portugal as the winner of the Qualifier Third Place play-off will join the existing twelve teams in Competition One as core teams to participate in every round of the 2012-13 season.

In 2011, Hong Kong was the fifth stage of the season. Japan were in Pool B along with England, the USA and China. Japan lost to the USA 24-19 on the opening day and then went down to England 33-14 early on day two before beating China 17-12 in their final pool game. Japan finished third in their pool and this put them up against Scotland in the Bowl Quarterfinals. Japan came back from 14-7 down at halftime to go on to a 19-14 victory and set up a re-match with the USA in the semi-finals. In another poor start the USA side was out to a 12-0 lead before Japan stormed back in the second half to win 14-12. The depleted 11-man Japan squad ran out of gas in the final with Canada winning 33-12. All-in-all, Japan won three and lost three in Hong Kong in 2011. For the record, Kenya took the Shield when they beat Spain 17-12 in the final, South Africa beat Australia 26-19 in the Plate final while in the big one, New Zealand claimed the Cup prize when they beat England 29-17 in the main final.

In 2010, Japan were in Pool E again grouped with England and Wales, along with hosts Hong Kong. Wales were the reigning World Sevens champions but Japan pushed them all the way before going down 12-10 in their opening game. Over recent years England have won this event in 2006, 2004, 2003 and 2002 and they used this experience to defeat Japan 45-0. In their final pool game, Japan defeated Hong Kong 40-7. With Japan, Wales and Hong Kong all locked on five points, Japan ended up claiming second place care of the better points differential. Consequently, Japan progressed to the Bowl quarterfinals were they were beaten 12-10 by Scotland to end their involvement in the tournament.

In Hong Kong in 2009, Japan had one of their better IRB Sevens World Series tournaments in a long time when they won two and lost three to make it as far as the Bowl semi-finals. On the opening Friday of the annual three-day Hong Kong leg of the World Series Japan went close against Wales only going down by the margin of 14-5. However, all the good work and confidence building was undone against England on the Saturday when the Japanese went down 50-0. Not to be denied though, Japan regained their focus against China to win a close fought encounter 21-17. The win over China meant Japan finished third in Pool B and this put them into a Bowl quarterfinal against Sri Lanka on the Sunday. Japan had a reasonably comfortable 26-10 win over their Asian rivals to then put them into one of the semi-finals against Portugal. Although the score ended up being the same as the quarter, this time it was Japan on the losing end of the 26-10 score line.

The Japan Sevens Squad







Harunori TSURUYA

Rissho University





Coca-Cola West Red Sparks





Toyota Industries Shuttles




Satoshi OSHIMA

Suntory Sungoliath





Kubota Spears




Katsuyuki SAKAI (c)

Toyota Industries Shuttles





Ricoh Black Rams




Shuetsu NARITA

Suntory Sungoliath





Waseda University





Canon Eagles





Hokkaido Barbarians




Kazushi HANO

Chuo University



Team Director: Osamu Ota.
Head Coach: Tomohiro Segawa.


The 12-team HSBC SWS Pre-Qualifier, all teams were drawn in Pools E, F and G.  

Pool E

Pool F

Pool G









Cook Islands

Chinese Taipei



Pool F Games for Japan

Day 1: Friday, 22 March 2013

Game 9: (18:56) –Japan 17 d Brazil 10
Japan: 2- Yusaku Kuwazuru, 3- Sione Teaupa, 4- Satoshi Oshima, 6- Katsuyuki Sakai (c), 8- Shuetsu Narita, 11- Lote Tuqiri, 12- Kazushi Hano.
Reserves: 1- Harunori Tsuruya, 5- Yuki Shishimoto, 7- Kenichi Yokoyama, 9- Tokiro Harada, 10- Kosuke Hashino.

Japan Scorers: Tries: Sione Teaupa 3; Conversion: Katsuyuki Sakai.

In their opening match, Japan had a scare against Brazil going to the turnaround trailing 10-5. However, they steadied the ship with Sione Teaupa adding two tries to the one he scored in the first half to run out 17-10 winners in the end.

 Day 2: Saturday 23 March 2013

Game 23: (11:56) –Japan 43 d Jamaica 0
Japan: 2- Yusaku Kuwazuru, 3- Sione Teaupa, 4- Satoshi Oshima, 6- Katsuyuki Sakai (c), 8- Shuetsu Narita, 11- Lote Tuqiri, 12- Kazushi Hano.
Reserves: 1- Harunori Tsuruya, 5- Yuki Shishimoto, 7- Kenichi Yokoyama, 9- Tokiro Harada, 10- Kosuke Hashino.

Japan Scorers: Tries: Sione Teaupa 3, Katsuyuki Sakai, Lote Tuqiri, Kazushi Hano, Kenichi Yokoyama; Conversions: Katsuyuki Sakai 4.

In their second pool match, Japan completely overwhelmed Jamaica scoring seven unanswered tries to easily take the game 43-0. As in the opening game, forward Sione Teaupa scored a hat-trick while captain Katsuyuki Sakai added a try and kicked four conversions.

Game 37: (18:10) –Japan 26 d Georgia 7
Japan: 2- Yusaku Kuwazuru, 3- Sione Teaupa, 5- Yuki Shishimoto, 6- Katsuyuki Sakai (c), 9- Tokiro Harada, 11- Lote Tuqiri, 12- Kazushi Hano.
Reserves: 1- Harunori Tsuruya, 4- Satoshi Oshima, 7- Kenichi Yokoyama, 8- Shuetsu Narita, 10- Kosuke Hashino.

Japan Scorers: Tries: Kazushi Hano 3, Lote Tuqiri; Conversions: Katsuyuki Sakai 3.

In their third and final pool match, Japan made it a clean sweep of Pool F with a vital 26-7 win over Georgia. Sione Teaupa scored  hat-tricks in the first two games but this time round it was the turn of Kazushi Hano to cross the whitewash three times while captain Katsuyuki Sakai again contributed with the boot by landing three conversions.

Japan’s Knock-out Matches

Day 3: Sunday, 24 March 2013

Qualifier Quarterfinal: Georgia 17 d. Japan 0
Japan: 2- Yusaku Kuwazuru, 4- Satoshi Oshima, 5- Yuki Shishimoto, 6- Katsuyuki Sakai (c), 8- Shuetsu Narita, 11- Lote Tuqiri, 12- Kazushi Hano.
Reserves: 1- Harunori Tsuruya, 3- Sione Teaupa, 7- Kenichi Yokoyama, 9- Tokiro Harada, 10- Kosuke Hashino.

In the knock-out stages, Georgia turned the tables on Japan with a 17-0 win to bring the campaign for Japan at Hong Kong in 2013 to a disappointing end.

Comments by Head Coach Tomohiro Segawa
Things got off to a bad start in the final game and we could not string phases together in attack. In the wet and greasy conditions it was the same for both sides but we still could not find our rhythm in attack. In hindsight, we probably lacked the fitness to get us through the three-day tournament. All-in-all, we failed to qualify for core status and this is a big blow to the Japan Sevens programme. We now have to turn things around as we head to Tokyo.

Comments by Captain Katsuyuki Sakai
We performed well in the three pool games but things did not go our way in this vital knock-out game. We looked to play ourselves back into a winning position in the second half but unfortunately we could not make it happen. Our aim was to move the ball into space from the breakdown, but we were out muscled at the contact area. We would normally get away with that at the Asian level but at this level we were found out. However, that is not the end of things as we now head to Tokyo where we are aiming for good results.

Junior Japan at the Pacific Rugby Cup 2013








Tuesday 12 March 2013

Brisbane Academy


Junior Japan









Monday 18 March 2013

Reds College XV


Junior Japan









Saturday 23 March 2013

Sydney Academy


Junior Japan


Griffith Oval, Canberra







Thursday 28 March 2013

Blues XV


Junior Japan


Bell Park, Pakuranga RFC







Tuesday 02 April 2013

Highlanders XV


Junior Japan


Forsyth Barr Stadium







Sunday 07 April 2013

Hurricanes XV


Junior Japan


Community Trust Domain

Game 2:

Reds College XV 59 d
Junior Japan 14 – Tries: Issei Shige and Tonisio Vaifu; Conversions: Takuya Yamasawa and Yosuke Morita.
Date: Monday 18 March 2013.
Venue: Ballymore, Brisbane.
Kick-off: 18:00.
Halftime: Reds College XV 33 – Junior Japan 0.

Junior Japan: 1- Kengo Kitagawa, 2- Haruki Ota, 3- Kazuhiro Shibata, 4- Kazuhiko Usami, 5- Yuji Kitagawa, 6- Tsuyoshi Murata (c), 7- Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 8- Takamichi Sasaki, 9- Takahiro Ogawa, 10- Takuya Yamasawa, 11- Kenki Fukuoka, 12- Yuya Noguchi, 13- Yasutaka Sasakura, 14- Sho Takenaka, 15- Yoshikazu Fujita.
Reserves: 16- Atsushi Sakate (subbed 2, 5 min 2H), 17- Shohei Hirano (subbed 1, 33 min 2H), 18- Koki Yamamoto (subbed 3, 20 min 2H), 19- Kazuki Himeno (subbed 4, 18 min 2H), 20- Hayato Nishiuchi (subbed 8, 32 min 1H), 21- Issei Shige (subbed 9, 5 min 2H), 22- Tonisio Vaifu (subbed 14, 23 min 1H), 23- Yosuke Morita (subbed 10, 33 min 2H).

Comments by head coach Satoru Endo
One of our concerns from the first game was our ability to attack from set pieces and although we improved in this area we were under a lot of pressure at the breakdown that led to turnover ball and consequently tries. This is the kind of pressure that our players have to expect at international level. On the whole, the players are showing improvement and the spirit is good in the squad as we look forward to our next match.

Comments by captain Tsuyoshi Murata
Our defence was better than our first game, however, a lot of unforced errors and turnover ball kept our opponents on the attack. We put our best foot forward in attack but we were under immense pressure at the breakdown. It is not an easy thing to improve our fitness and skills in such a short time but this Junior Japan squad is moving in the right direction as we work towards our first win.

Game 3:

Sydney Academy 45 d
Junior Japan 28 – Tries: Yoshikazu Fujita, Takahiro Ogawa, Daishi Murata and Kenki Fukuoka; Conversions: Yosuke Morita 4.
Date: Saturday 23 March 2013.
Venue: Griffith Oval, Canberra.
Kick-off: 16:00.
Halftime: Sydney Academy 31 – Junior Japan 28.

Junior Japan: 1- Kengo Kitagawa, 2- Atsushi Sakate, 3- Koki Yamamoto, 4- Kazuki Himeno, 5- Yuji Kitagawa, 6- Tsuyoshi Murata (c), 7- Hayato Nishiuchi, 8- Kyosuke Horie, 9- Takahiro Ogawa, 10- Yosuke Morita, 11- Kenki Fukuoka, 12- Yasuki Hayashi, 13- Daishi Murata, 14- Yoshikazu Fujita, 15- Yasutaka Sasakura.
Reserves: 16- Shohei Hirano (subbed 2, 20 min 2H), 17- Haruki Ota (subbed 1, 29 min 2H), 18- Kazuhiro Shibata (subbed 3, 20 min 2H), 19- Takumi Mikami (subbed 6, 27 min 1H), 20- Hiroki Yamamoto (subbed 4, 25 min 2H), 21- Issei Shige (subbed 9, 24 min 2H), 22- Yuya Noguchi (subbed 13, 28 min 2H), 23- Takaaki Nakazuru (subbed 15, 0 min 2H).

Comments by head coach Satoru Endo
We prepared well for this game and this was our best performance so far on tour with the players showing confidence. Across the board, the players worked as a team in attack putting together some long phases of play with ball in hand. At one point it was tit for tat tries but the opposition just kept coming back. Looking ahead, we have to work on playing out the game over the final twenty minutes of play. We are now halfway through this tour and we look forward to some wins in New Zealand.

Comments by captain Tsuyoshi Murata
Today we managed to hold our shape better in attack and we were far more competitive at the breakdown. However, just like in the previous two games, we started slowly. Having said that though, our play throughout the first half was our best effort so far on tour but we faded in the second half. We can see measured improvements with each game and we still look forward to our first win.

Japan High Schools Tour to Italy and France 2013

Game 4:

France U18 46 d Japan High Schools 17
Date: Saturday 23 March 2013
Venue: Church Stadium, Saint Savin, France
Kick-off: 16:00 local France time (Sunday 24 March, 00:00 Japan time)
Halftime: France U18 18 – Japan High Schools 0
NB: 35 minutes halves

Japan High Schools: 1- Kosuke Horikoshi, 2- Shogo Hidaka, 3- Koo Ji-Won, 4- Shoma Makinouchi, 5- Shinichi Tanaka, 6- Takeo Suenaga, 7- Tevita Tatafu, 8- Sota Oketani, 9- Atsushi Yumoto (c), 10- Toshiki Hamagishi, 11- Shuhei Narita, 12- Keita Suzuki, 13- Eito Nakanishi, 14- Chihito Matsui and 15- Ryuji Noguchi.
Reserves: 16- Yuji Takei, 17- Atsuteru Horikiri, 18- Eishin Kuwano, 19- Tomohito Miyakawa, 20- Taiki Koyama, 21- Genta Wada, 22- Shinya Morita, 23- Kisato Torihara, 24- Tatsuya Suzuki, 25- Rio Mikasa, 26- Seiya Ozaki and 27- Takayuki Watanabe.

Scorers for Japan High Schools: Tries: Tevita Tatafu 2 and Shuhei Narita; Conversion: Toshiki Hamagishi.

Comments by Head Coach Noriyuki Yokota
In this final game, we were put under a lot of pressure at the set pieces and we could not play our kind of game in attack. What came out of this game was the insufficient strength and conditioning of our players at their school and club level in order to take on top level physical overseas teams like this. This is something that needs to be remedied with this generation of players.

This squad went through selection camps and then development camps in the build up to this tour and by and large we produced good results. Unfortunately, we fell short of achieving our aim of winning all four games, but the players have come ahead in leaps and bounds.

Finally, I would like to thanks the Japanese based in Italy and France for their support, along with all the support staff. I would also like to extend our thanks to our Italian and French hosts.

Comments by Captain Atsushi Yumoto
We were punished for mistakes in the first half. We were subject to a lot of pressure at the set pieces, especially the lineout. We could not put good phases together in attack and were mostly on the back foot. We fared better in the second half but overall this is a very disappointing result. As a team we aimed to win all four games on tour and after a good start we were on track to achieve our goal. However, we went down in our final game. Nevertheless, we all thoroughly enjoyed our time together on tour. We ended the tour with three wins and one loss and for the first and second year students we want them to learn from this tour and do their best next year. As people, we also learned a lot about life and rugby from our manager Yoshihiro Sakata. Finally, I would like to thank everyone concerned for their support.


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