Saturday, October 26, 2013


Congratulations RIJ Newsletter 10th Anniversary 2003-2013

The Top League has yet another bye this weekend and so RiJ starts the Top League team profiles for the season with Suntory. University rugby is also picking up steam and the Japan Sevens were in India recently.

Enjoy the read.


  • Top League 2013-14 Stage One, bye
  • Japan Rugby Top League Team Profiles 2013-14 (1) Suntory
  • University Rugby 2013
  • Mumbai Sevens 2013
  • Autumn 2013 Test Rugby

Top League Profiles 2013-14



    (1) Suntory Sungoliath

2013-14 Introduction: In the 2011-12 season under the guidance of Eddie Jones, Suntory swept all before them collecting the Top League and National Championship double. Jones moved on to become the head coach of the Japan national side with Suntory stalwart Naoya Okubo taking over where Jones left off to once again win both the Top League and National Championship titles last season.

Nevertheless, Suntory as the reigning Top League champions will come into the new season as favourites to defend their title. The Sungoliath have some of the cream of local rugby talent in their ranks such as tighthead prop Kensuke Hatakeyama, flanker Takamichi Sasaki, halfback Atsushi Hiwasa, centre Koji Taira and wing Hirotoki Onozawa. Meanwhile, the overseas talent is just as impressive with the likes of, flanker George Smith, halfback Fourie de Preez and five-eighth Tusi Pisi in the squad. Suntory lost lock Dannie Rossouw and fullback Peter Hewat in the off-season but New Zealand born backrower Hendrik Tui is a new acquisition from Panasonic.

Established: Suntory were established in 1980. Suntory are based in the western Tokyo area of Fuchu. The team mascot is a gorilla. For the moniker Sungoliath, “Sun” refers to the sun in the sky and “Goliath” refers to the David and Goliath story.

The team slogan for 2013-14 is, “HUNGRY”.

The Company: beverage maker of such consumables as beer, whiskey and a variety of waters, soft drinks and coffees.


Top League – three times (2007-8, 2011-12 and 2012-13); runners-up twice (2006-7 and 2010-11).

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.

2012-13 (14 teams): Champions. 1st on table on 63 points with 13 wins. Beat Kobe 38-19 in Play-off semi-final and Toshiba 19-3 in final.

2011-12 (14 teams): Champions. 1st on table on 57 points with 12 wins and 1 loss. Beat NEC 56-8 in Play-off semi-final and Panasonic 47-28 in final.

2010-11 (14 teams): Runners-up. 4th on table on 50 points with 10 wins and 3 losses. Beat Toshiba 17-12 in Play-off semi-final then lost to Sanyo 28-23 in final.

2009-10 (14 teams): 2nd on table on 58 points with 11 wins and 2 draws. Lost to Toshiba 35-24 in Play-off semi-final.

2008-9 (14 teams): 3rd on table on 51 points with 10 wins and 3 losses. (See 2009 Microsoft Cup below for further details)

2007-8 (14 teams): Champions. Finished 2nd on table on 53 points with 10 wins, a draw and 2 losses. (See 2008 Microsoft Cup below for further details)

2006-7 (14 teams): Runners-up. 2nd on table on 56 points with 11 wins and 2 losses. (See 2007 Microsoft Cup below for further details)

2005-6 (12 teams): 6th on table on 32 points with 6 wins and 5 losses.

2004-5 (12 teams): 8th on table on 24 points with 4 wins and 7 losses.

2003-4 (12 teams): 4th on table on 37 points with 8 wins and 3 losses.

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

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: Knocked out by Sanyo 32-22 in semi-final.

2008: Champions. Beat Toyota 33-10 in semi-final. Beat Sanyo 14-10 in final.

2007: Runners-up. Beat Yamaha 40-39 in semi-final. Lost to Toshiba 14-13 in final.

2006: Runners-up. Beat Yamaha 35-17 in first round & Kubota 44-25 in semi-final. Lost to Toshiba 33-18 in final.

2005: Knocked out by eventual champion Toshiba 33-13 in first round.

2004: Knocked out by eventual champion NEC 5-32 in first round.

National Championship – 6 times (1996, 2001 (joint champions with Kobe after final drawn 27-all), 2002, 2011, 2012 and 2013); runners-up 3 times (2003, 2008 and 2009).

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.

For 2013, the Wildcard Tournament again featured six teams, that is, the six teams that finished fifth to tenth on the final Top League table for the 2012-13 season. In the first round, eighth placed NEC Green Rockets beat ninth placed NTT Communications Shining Arcs 38-14 and seventh placed Kintetsu Liners beat tenth placed Ricoh Black Rams 43-21. In the second round the following weekend, sixth placed Yamaha Jubilo beat Kintetsu 70-12 and fifth placed Toyota Verblitz beat NEC 41-23. The two winners from the second round in Yamaha and Toyota qualified for the National Championship as the Wildcard Qualifiers.

2013 (50th NC - 10 teams): Champions. As champion in TL Play-off, entered NC at SF stage. Beat Panasonic 26-13 in SF and Kobe 36-209 in final.

2012 (49th NC - 10 teams): Champions. As champion in TL Play-off, entered NC at SF stage. Beat Toshiba 23-8 in SF and Panasonic 21-9 in final.

2011 (48th NC - 10 teams): Champions. As runners-up in TL Play-off, entered NC at SF stage. Beat Kobe 37-33 in SF and Sanyo 37-20 in final.

2010 (47th NC - 10 teams): drew with NEC 10-all in the first round but lost on lottery ballot.

2009 (46th NC - 10 teams): Runners-up. Beat Kubota 62-17 in first round, beat Waseda University 59-20 in second round and then won by default in the semi-final after Toshiba withdrew from the Championship over a doping scandal involving wing Christian Loamanu. Lost to Sanyo 24-16 in final.

2008 (45th NC - 8 teams): Runners-up. Beat Toshiba 25-14 in SF. Lost to Sanyo 40-18 in final.

2007 (44th NC - 8 teams): Lost to Toyota 39-17 in semi-final.

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

2005 (42nd NC - 8 teams): DNQ as only top 4 TL teams qualified.

2004 (41st NC - 22 teams): Knocked out by NEC 34-27.

Corporate Champions – 3 times (1996 (joint champions with Sanyo after final was drawn 27-all) 2002 and 2003); runners-up 3 times (1990, 1998 and 1999). 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: The Suntory strip for 2013-14 is a fluorescent yellow jersey, black shorts and socks. Their second jersey has a sky blue body with black shoulders, sleeves and flanks.

Style of Play: In the 2011-12 season Suntory Sungoliath took the Top League and National Championship double under head coach Eddie Jones and then repeated the feat in 2012-13 under Naoya Okubo. On form, this very stable Suntory outfit can again be expected to be right up there again this season.

Japan international lock Shinya Makabe retains the captaincy this year in combination with coach Okubo. Suntory again have some impressive overseas names in their squad in an indication that they will be one of the teams to beat this year, if not the team to beat. George Smith and Fourie du Preez are part of a top shelf of overseas players to complement the considerable local talent and Suntory seem to have all bases covered this year and they are definitely a team that is peaking.

Suntory play a relatively straightforward kind of game that relies on straight running lines in attack, maximising opportunities as they arise and blotting out oppositions with their solid defence. The confidence is oozing in this squad and with Smith a havoc around the breakdown, du Preez the ultimate link between backs and forwards and Tusi Pisi the infinite game breaker, especially late in matches against tiring defences. The international experience and depth in the squad gives Suntory the edge in tight games and at the business end of the season.

Players to Watch: Twenty-one of the Suntory squad of forty-six for the 2013-14 season have international experience while many of the younger Japanese players in the squad have represented Japan at age grade levels. As such, this is a very experienced and talented group of rugby players with that essential blend of youth and experience, a fine balance between local and overseas players.

Suntory have a big, strong pack with captain and lock Shinya Makabe leading from the front. In the front row, former Japan props Akira Ozaki and Yosuke Ikegaya are still helping to guide current national props Kensuke Hatakeyama and Shinsuke Nakamura, while the next generation of international props is putting pressure on the established players such as Koichi Nitta and Shintaro Ishihara. Yusuke Aoki is the primary hooker this year though Tateo Kanai also plays hooker. In the second row, Koji Shinozuka and Makabe are the first choice locks. The stocks in the backrow department are full to overflowing too with former Japan captain Takamichi Sasaki, Juntaro Takemoto and former Wallabies legend George Smith looking to form a lethal combination while New Zealand-born Japan international Hendrik Tui joins the club this year from Panasonic.

Suntory also have a wealth of talent in their backs. In close is former Springbok halfback Fourie du Preez and Atsushi Hiwasa who has now earned 27 caps for Japan. New Zealand-born Samoan international five-eighth Tusi Pisiata is another player who has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years and he will alternate with Kosei Ono in the No.10 jersey. Ryan Nicholas and Koji Taira are a tried and tested centre combination for both Suntory and Japan, while out wide wing Hirotoki Onozawa continues to get better with age and Yasunori Nagatomo has also represented Japan. At the back, Go Aruga will fight it out with a number of the younger brigade for the starting spot in the No.15 jersey. Nicholas and Ono can be expected to share the goal-kicking duties.

Japan Cap holders in the current squad: (17)

In 2013, in the HSBC A5N series, Suntory were represented by hooker Yusuke Aoki, tighthead prop Kensuke Hatakeyama, lock Shinya Makabe, backrower Hendrick Tui, halfback Atsushi Hiwasa, five-eighth Kosei Ono and wing Hirotoki Onozawa. In the IRB PNC series, Suntory were represented by Aoki, Hatakeyama, Makabe, Tui, Hiwasa, Ono and Onozawa. At the completion of the spring campaign, Onozawa finished with 81 caps to become the most-capped player for Japan surpassing former centre Yukio Motoki (79). Furthermore, Hatakeyama finished with 46 caps, becoming the most-capped prop overtaking former Suntory prop Shin Hasegawa (40). In the middle of the PNC series, Wales toured Japan for two tests and Suntory were represented by Hatakeyama, Makabe, Tui, Hiwasa and Onozawa.

Hirotoki ONOZAWA (416) 35 y/o (29/03/1978), 81 tests on wing/fullback.

Kensuke HATAKEYAMA (515) 28 y/o (02/08/1985), 46 tests at tighthead prop.

Ryan NICHOLAS (502) 34 y/o (23/05/1979), 38 tests at centre.

Koji TAIRA (489) 30 y/o (12/01/1983), 32 tests at outside centre.

Yusuke AOKI (490) 30 y/o (19/06/1983), 28 tests at hooker.

Atsushi HIWASA (545) 26 y/o (22/05/1987), 27 tests at halfback.

Kosei ONO (492) 26 y/o (17/04/1987), 18 tests at five-eighth.

Shinya MAKABE (533) 26 y/o (26/03/1987), 17 tests at lock.

Go ARUGA (484) 29 y/o (03/11/1983), 16 tests at fullback.

Hendrik TUI (565) 24 y/o (13/12/1987), 14 tests at flanker/No8.

Takamichi SASAKI (494) 29 y/o (30/10/1983), 13 tests at flanker/No8.

Yasunori NAGATOMO (536) 28 y/o (03/05/1985), 9 tests on wing.

Shinsuke NAKAMURA (526) 26 y/o (18/08/1987), 6 tests at tighthead prop.

Koji SHINOZUKA (501) 30 y/o (13/07/1983), 6 tests at lock/flanker.

Tateo KANAI (525) 28 y/o (05/11/1984), 4 tests at hooker.

Akira OZAKI (504) 35 y/o (05/04/1978), 3 tests at loosehead prop.

Yosuke IKEGAYA (507) 34 y/o (24/08/1979), 3 tests at tighthead prop.

The Coach: Naoya Okubo 38, (27/09/1975) is in his second year as head coach at Suntory for the 2013-14 season. Okubo as Japan player number 377 earned 23 caps for Japan between 1999 and 2004 as a flanker before retiring as a player at Suntory at the end of the 2008-9 season after ten seasons with the club. He had been part of the overall coaching staff at Suntory since retiring but now is the main coach.

The Captain: Lock Shinya Makabe is in his second year as captain at Suntory for the 2013-14 season. Makabe who captained Japan U19 in 2005 and 2006 is in his fifth season with Suntory after graduating from Chuo University.

Losses: (7)

Keita HASEGAWA, 30 y/o (24/04/1983), prop, 180/114, into the company workforce after 7 seasons with club.

Hirofumi KINOSHITA 24 y/o (23/01/1989), hooker, 182/101, into the company workforce after 2 seasons with club

Timothy BOND (NZL), 24 y/o (25/10/1989), lock, 194/111, from Teikyo University, he represented Japan at Japan A level, back to NZ after one season with club.

Shinki GEN, 35 y/o (12/02/1978), flanker, 183/97, onto coaching staff after 13 seasons with club.

Danie ROSSOUW (RSA), 35 y/o, (06/05/1978), lock, 196/117, 63 caps for Springboks including victory at the 2007 RWC; Blue Bulls 1999-2011, winning Super title in 2007 and 2009. To Toulon, France after 2 seasons with club.

Peter HEWAT (AUS), 35 y/o (17/03/1978), five-eighth/fullback, 191/101, from London Irish. Australia U21, Australia Sevens, S14 Waratahs. Onto coaching staff after 3 seasons with club.

Reo KISHIWADA, 26 y/o (18/01/1987), centre, 180/85, into the company workforce after 4 seasons with club.

Gains: (7)

SHIN Dong-Won (Korea) 27 y/o (12/12/1986), prop/hooker, 180/105, represented Canterbury at U14 (2000), U15 (2001) & U16 (2002) levels, attended Christchurch BHS, from Sanix.

Shintaro ISHIHARA, 23 y/o (17/06/1990), prop, 181/105, from Meiji University, he has represented Japan at Junior Japan, U20 and High School levels.

Ryosuke YAMADA, 22 y/o (10/12/1990), prop, 182/105, from Keio University.

Hendrix TUI (NZL) (565), 25 y/o (13/12/1987), flanker, 189/110, De La Salle, Auckland, from Teikyo University, he has 14 caps for Japan, from Panasonic.

Keisuke SAKAMOTO 22 y/o (16/11/1990), five-eighth/centre, 177/82, from Tokai University, he has represented Japan at U20 level.

Kenta TSUKAMOTO 23 y/o (02/08/1990), centre/fullback, 177/80, from Tenri University.

Takaaki NAKAZURU, 23 y/o (24/10/1990, wing/fullback, 177/80, from Waseda University, he has represented Japan at Junior Japan, U20, High School and Sevens levels.

Overseas Players & Staff (7 + 2):

Ryan NICHOLAS (AUS?/NZL?/JPN) 34 y/o (23/05/1979), centre, 192/100, 9th year, NZ Maori, Highlanders S12, 38 caps for Japan.

Tusi PISIATA (SAM?/NZL), 31 y/o (18/06/1982), five-eighth, 183/91, 5th year, 13 caps for Samoa & 3 for PI, S14 Crusaders, SR Hurricanes.

Fourie de PREEZ (RSA), 31 y/o (24/03/1982), halfback, 182/89, 3rd year, S14 Blue Bulls, 62 caps for Springboks, Blue Bulls.

George SMITH (AUS), 33 y/o (14/07/1980), flanker, 180/104, 3rd year, 111 caps for Wallabies; Toulon 2010-11; Brumbies 2000-2010, winning the Super title in 2001 and 2004; won John Eales Medal in 2002 and 2008; S14 player of the year 2006-8.

PARK Soon-Chai (Korea), 28 y/o (20/08/1985), lock, 187/110, 2nd year, from POSCO.

SHIN Dong-Won (Korea) 27 y/o (12/12/1986), prop/hooker, 180/105, 1st year, represented Canterbury at U14 (2000), U15 (2001) & U16 (2002) levels, attended Christchurch BHS, from Sanix.

Hendrix TUI (NZL) (565), 25 y/o (13/12/1987), flanker, 189/110, 1st year, De La Salle, Auckland, from Teikyo University, he has 14 caps for Japan, from Panasonic.

David EDGER (NZL), 41 y/o, head S&C coach.

Peter HEWAT (AUS), 35 y/o, assistant coach.

The 2013-14 Squad: (46) The list starts with captain and vice-captains and then continues through forwards and backs in order from props to fullbacks. All family names come last.

Shinya Makabe, (c). Forwards: Akira Ozaki, Yosuke Ikegaya, Tateo Kanai, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Shin Dong-Won, Shinsuke Nakamura, Koichi Nitta, Ryotaro Suzuki, Shintaro Ishihara, Ryosuke Yamada, Yusuke Aoki, Naoki Ozawa, Taichi Tahara, Koji Shinozuka, Park Soon-Chai, Yuki Tsujimoto, George Smith, Juntaro Takemoto, Takamichi Sasaki, Masakatsu Nishikawa, Hendrik Tui and Kenta Nakasone. Backs: Fourie de Preez, Shuetsu Narita, Atsushi Hiwasa, Mizuki Yanagihara, Kazutaka Ashida, Ryan Nicholas, Tusi Pisiata, Naoya Nomura, Hiroki Miyamoto, Kosei Ono, Keisuke Sakamoto, Koji Taira, Go Aruga, Kenji Miyamoto, Kenta Tsukamoto, Hirotoki Onozawa, Yasunori Nagatomo, Satoshi Oshima, Daishi Murata, Naoki Chono, Takaaki Nakazuru, Ryutaro Takemoto, and Shohei Takeshita. Coach: Naoya Okubo (37).

University Rugby 2013

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

Kanto Taiko

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

In the Kanto Taiko competition, Teikyo as the defending national university champions, traditional powerhouses Waseda have both won their opening three games in style while Meiji and Keio have both suffered one loss each. Tsukuba have had close losses to Waseda and Keio while recording a win over Meiji and Aoyama Gakuin had an inspiring win over Keio but went down in their other two matches while Nippon Sports Science and Seikei are winless.

Kanto League

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

In the Kanto League competition, Ryutsu Keizai and Chuo have both had three straight wins and share the top of the table with 12 points each. Tokai and Nihon are on 9 points from two wins and one loss each with Hosei and Daitobunka both on 6 points from one win and two losses. Takushoku and Rissho are still winless on 3 points.

Kansai League

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

In the Kansai League, Ritsumeikan and Kyoto Sangyo have both won their opening two matches, Kwansei Gakuin, OUHSS, Doshisha and Kansai have all had one win and one loss while Tenri and Kinki are still looking for their first win.

Last up-dated: Monday, 14 October 2013.

HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2013


Round 3: Mumbai Sevens

Japan Finish as Runners-up to Hong Kong

The third round of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series for 2013 was played in Mumbai, India over the weekend of 12 and 13 October 2013. Fifteen countries and regions took part in the Mumbai Sevens at the Bombay Gymkhana with Japan in Pool A along with The Philippines and Chinese Taipei.

Japan won the Malaysia Sevens in Kuala Lumpur, from 31 August to 1 September as the opening round of the series and then backed that up by taking the Thailand Sevens title in late September. A win in India would have given them the overall title but the door is left open for Hong Kong who defeated Japan in the final. The final round will take place in Singapore from 9-10 November.

On Saturday Japan progressed smoothly through Pool A to make it into the Cup knock-out stage the following day. On Sunday in the Cup quarters, Japan accounted for Thailand 38-0 to move into the semis where they beat Malaysia 19-0 to progress to the final to meet Hong Kong. In the Cup decider both sides went to the turnaround locked at 7-all but Hong Kong pulled away on the scoreboard in the second half with two converted tries and penalty to take the decision 24-14.

After the tournament, head coach Tomohiro Segawa said, “In the very trying heat and humidity the boys did their best. We were aiming to make it three tournament wins in a row here in Mumbai but our high error rate at important times denied the rhythm necessary, especially in the final against Hong Kong. However, we now look ahead to Singapore were we intend to wrap up the overall title.”

Japan captain Katsuyuki Sakai said, “We wanted to wrap up the series title here in India and it is very disappointing that we could not do so. We want to learn from our mistakes and take this feeling to Singapore to secure the title. Hong Kong put a lot of pressure on us in the final leading to a number of penalties and this stopped our momentum. We have some things to work on but we are confident looking ahead to Singapore.” 

Pool A

Pool B

Pool C

Pool D


South Korea

Sri Lanka

Hong Kong

The Philippines




Chinese Taipei





Pool 13-16





The third round of the series will be held in Bombay over the weekend of 12-13 October 2013.

Autumn 2013 Test Rugby


Japan v New Zealand

Date: Saturday, 02 November 2013.
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, Tokyo.
Kick-off: TBC.

On 12 July 2013, the Japan Rugby Football Union announced that New Zealand would tour Japan in November 2013 playing one test against Japan at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo on Saturday, 02 November 2013. The JRFU and the New Zealand Rugby Union have agreed that this game will have full test match status with caps awarded accordingly on both sides.

JRFU chairman Tatsuzo Yabe made the following comment, “Both the JRFU and the NZRU have agreed that this game will have full test match status. Japan hopes to break into the world top ten by Rugby World Cup 2015 and in order to achieve this goal it is essential that we play against the strongest sides in the world. This year, Japan will play four tests against tier one unions in a single year for the first time and it is important we are competitive. Further, having the All Blacks play in Japan at this time will also help promote RWC 2019 to be hosted by Japan. Beating Wales and finishing the spring international season with three wins in a row has had a big impact on Japanese rugby and to host the All Blacks at a packed Chichibu stadium in November will continue this trend.”

Head coach Eddie Jones made the following comment, “For Japan to play New Zealand as the current World Cup holders and number one ranked team in the world is very fortunate. Japan does not have a good record against the All Blacks but we recently made history with the win over Wales and we want to repeat that against New Zealand. To beat the All Blacks the preparation starts now. They do not only present a physical challenge but we also have to think about how we can do things differently. If we can do that then I believe we can create another piece of history.”

The CEO of the NZRU, Steve Tew, said, “The All Blacks are very honoured to again visit Japan to take on the Japanese ‘Brave Blossoms’. Further, we hope that this test match will help support Japan in hosting RWC 2019.”

The New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen said, “We are very much looking forward to playing Japan in Tokyo in this historical test match. This test fits well with our overall strategic planning for the year in strengthening the leadership within the All Blacks while also adding to the depth in the ranks. Further, it will be a wonderful opportunity for the younger players to challenge for the chance to wear the black jersey.”

Scotland v Japan

Date: Saturday, 09 November 2013.
Venue: Murrayfield.
Kick-off: 14:30.

On 26 April 2013, the Japan Rugby Football Union announced that Japan would play Scotland on Saturday 09 November 2013 at an unconfirmed venue with a 14:30 kick-off. Scotland complete their autumn campaign with tests against South Africa on Sunday 17 and Australia on Saturday 23 November 2013 with the later two tests to be played at Murrayfield.

Tatsuzo Yabe made the following comment, “It is nine years since Japan has played Scotland in Scotland. Japan aims to break into the top ten rankings by the 2015 Rugby World Cup and it is important for us to play against strong sides in order to achieve that aim. It is also important for Japan to make a good impression on this tour in the lead up to hosting the 2019 RWC.”

Head coach Eddie Jones made the following comment, “It is a very vital step in that we could secure this test against Scotland. The last time Japan played in Scotland in November 2004 the side could not produce a good result. In our build-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, this test against Scotland is a big challenge for us. Scotland has one of the longest rugby traditions and they play a physical kind of game. To be sure, this will be a fantastic experience for our players.”

Gloucester v Japan

Date: Tuesday, 12 November 2013.
Venue: Kingsholm Stadium.
Kick-off: 19:45.

Russia v Japan

Date: Friday, 15 November 2013.
Venue: Parc Eirias, Wales.
Kick-off: 19:30.

Spain v Japan

Date: Saturday, 23 November 2013.
Venue: Madrid Ciudad Universitaria Stadium.
Kick-off: 16:00.

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