24 March 2015
Written by Ian Mcdonnell
Edited by Gary Carbines for http://rugby-international.blogspot.com.au/
RiJ looks at the efforts of Junior Japan at the Pacific Challenge. The team is under-aged for the level of competition and certainly out of its depth and one has to wonder the wisdom of sending the Japan U20 side out to Fiji. WR should demand Japan send a team that is up to the task next year. The Japan High Schools lost both games in Scotland very easily but bounced back with a win in Paris. All eyes now turn to Hong Kong.
Enjoy the read.
- World Rugby Pacific Challenge 2015
- Japan High Schools Tour of Scotland and France 2015
- HSBC World Rugby Sevens
- Japan’s 2015 Test Series Takes Shape
Monday 23 March 2015
Fifth place play-off: Junior Japan v Tonga A, 13:00.
Third place play-off: Samoa A v Canada A, 15:00.
Final: Pampas XV v Fiji Warriors, 17:00.
The Junior Japan side are competing in the World Rugby Pacific Challenge 2015 at Suva in Fiji, but are finding the going tough. Junior Japan are in Pool A with Samoa A and the Argentina Pampas XV and will play cross-pool matches against Canada A, Tonga A and Fiji Warriors.
In their first match against Canada A at the ANZ Stadium in Suva on Tuesday 10 March, the Canadians ran out convincing 69-17 winners, outscoring Junior Japan ten tries to two after leading 31-3 at the break.
After the match, head coach Ryuji Nakatake commented, “We were looking forward to this first game, but the result was very disappointing. We wanted to move the ball around in attack but turnovers hurt us badly and we could not build momentum. In defence, we had to commit two or three defenders to bring down our bigger opponents and this left lots of space for them to attack. We are nowhere near the kind of game we want to play.”
Captain and hooker Kosuke Horikoshi from Teikyo University noted, “This was a real tough match. We could not play how we wanted to and we lost a lot of ground at the breakdown. We are now looking ahead to our next game against Fiji.”
Things did not get any better in the second game against the Fiji Warriors on Saturday 14 March with the hosts winning 83-0. Junior Japan had no answers to the size and power of the free-running Fijians who blasted through the Japanese defence for thirteen tries.
After the match, head coach Nakatake commented, “This was a really tough match and the Fijians put a lot of points on us. We realise we have to be cool under pressure as our basics came unstuck today. All the players had a run in this match and we are finding out who is and is not up to this standard of rugby.”
Captain Horikoshi said, “In the first half, we were under all sorts of pressure in both attack and defence. Things improved in the second half and we were able to string some phases together in attack but it still was not enough.”
Junior Japan played their third and final pool match against Tonga A on Wednesday 18 March 2015 at the ANZ Stadium with the Tongans winning 60-24. Tonga A scored ten tries to four with Noguchi, Iseki and Moeakiola the try scorers for Junior Japan.
After the match, head coach Ryuji Nakatake commented, “We targeted this game for a win, but simple errors and problems at the set piece allowed our opposition to score easy tries. However, one of the pleasing aspects to come out of this game for us was our attack and the tries we scored. We now play Tonga A again in the fifth place play-off and we want to learn from our mistakes ahead of the rematch.”
Captain Maeda said, “We aimed to beat Tonga in this match, but unfortunately that did not happen. We aim to play out own game and run around our oppositions and as Tonga tired in the second half we were able to do this.”
Junior Japan lost all three cross-pool matches to Canada A, Fiji Warriors and Tonga A to finish on the bottom of Pool A and they will face Tonga A who finished last in Pool B in the fifth place play-off at the ANZ Stadium in Suva on Monday 23 March.
Japan High Schools Tour to Scotland and France 2015
Game 1: Scotland U19 66 d Japan High Schools 12
In the first game on tour, Japan High Schools played Scotland U19 at Stewart’s Melville FP RFC in Edinburgh on Sunday 15 March 2015 with the hosts winning 66-12. The young Scots scored four tries to one in the opening half to lead 26-7 at the break with hooker Kunpei Onishi the try scorer for Japan. Scotland U19 stayed on the front foot in the latter half with a further six tries to one with prop Kota Mitake touching down for the Japan schoolboys.
After a tough opening match, coach Susumu Takano said, “We trained hard for this match, but as it was our first match on tour, our error rate was very high. Further, turnovers led to easy tries against us. The opposition players were big, but that did not unduly phase our boys. We have to up the ante at the breakdown and lay a stable platform at the set piece for continuous phase play in attack.”
Captain and lock Daichi Akiyama said, “This was a very unfortunate result. I felt we competed well in the contact areas, but unforced errors led to turn overs and this is something we have to fix. This is a very skilful Scottish side and they made few mistakes. We now have to build for our next game.”
Game 2: Scotland U19 50 d Japan High Schools 12
In the second game on tour, Japan High Schools played Scotland U19 at Meggetland Sports Complex in Edinburgh on Wednesday 18 March 2015 with the hosts winning 50-12. The young Scots scored three unanswered tries in the opening half to lead 19-0 at the break. Japan started well in the second half with tries to No8 Faulua Makisi and fullback Moriki Read to get to 24-12 at one point, but Scotland U19 turned up the heat over the latter stages of the half with a further four tries blowing out the final score line.
Captain and lock Daichi Akiyama said, “Compared to our first game, our defence was much sharper today, but the opposition was quick to react and we did not adjust well enough. This side is improving with each game and we want to chalk up our first tour win in our next outing.”
Game 3: Japan High Schools 43 d Stade Francais U22 19
In the third game on tour, Japan High Schools played Stade Francais U22 at the Centre National de Rugby in Paris on Friday 20 March 2015 with the visitors winning 43-19. The young Japanese scored two tries to one in the opening half to lead 17-5 at the break with hooker Ryo Hattori and fullback Moriki Read the try scorer for Japan. Centre Yuhei Shimada contributed to the first half effort by converting both tries and adding a penalty. The game opened up in the latter half with Japan crossing for a further four tries to two with wings Ren Takano and Kento Iwasa, replacement hooker Kunpei Onishi and Shimada touching down for the Japan schoolboys.
After their first win on tour, coach Susumu Takano said, “We were on the back foot in our first two games, but we changed all that today. Our aggressive defence forced our opposition into making mistakes and that gave us good field position. Our fast-paced game also produced some very good tries. However, we still have some work to do on our lineout and maul ahead of the next game.”
Captain and lock Daichi Akiyama said, “We forced our opponents into making mistakes today, mainly through our defence and this allowed us to open up in attack. We are very happy to notch up our first win of the tour and we now want to close out the tour with another win in our final game.”
Round 6, Hong Kong Sevens
27-29 March 2015, Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
Round 7, Japan Sevens
4-5 April 2015, Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, Tokyo
Round 8, Scotland Sevens
9-10 May 2015, Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow
Round 9, England Sevens
16-17 May 2015, Twickenham Stadium, London
Test season taking shape
The schedule for internationals for Japan over the spring and early summer has become a whole lot clearer with the announcement of fixtures for the Asian Rugby Championship 2015 and the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup 2015.
The Asian Five Nations (A5N) tournament has been reformatted as the Asian Rugby Championship with the top three sides from the Top Five tier in 2014 in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea playing each other home and away. Over six consecutive Saturdays starting 18 April 2015, the top three sides in Asia will battle it out for bragging rights as the number one rugby side in the region. Japan won all seven A5N titles without ever tasting defeat and they will start as hot favourites to continue the trend.
South Korea will host Japan in Incheon on the opening weekend before the Koreans travel to play Hong Kong in Hong Kong the following Saturday. On Saturday 2 May, Japanese rugby fans get their first home test of the year when Japan play Hong Kong at Chichibu in Tokyo and then Eddie Jones’s side stays on home turf when they move to Fukuoka to take on South Korea at the Level Five Stadium in the fourth week of the series. South Korea are then at home to accommodate Hong Kong on 16 May in the penultimate round before Japan travel to play Hong Kong in Aberdeen in the final weekend of competition.
Further down the track, Japan, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga along with Canada and the USA will play out the Pacific Nations Cup 2015. This year, Samoa, Japan and Tonga are in Pool A and Fiji, USA and Canada are in Pool B with games played in a cross-pool format.
All but one test will be played in North America with the action kicking off on Saturday, 18 July 2015 when Fiji are at home Tonga at the ANZ Stadium in Suva. On the same day, Canada play Japan and the USA play Samoa in a double header at the Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California. Round two on Friday 24 July sees Canada play Tonga at the Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, British Columbia while further south, Fiji play Samoa and the USA play Japan in another double header at the Bonney Field in Sacramento. The third round of action amounts to a triple-header with all three games slated for the BMO Field in Toronto on Wednesday 29 July where the USA play Tonga, Japan face Fiji and Canada take on Samoa.
The tournament culminates on Monday 3 August at the Swangard Stadium when the teams play off for final placings with the third-placed teams in either pool playing off for fifth place, the second-placed teams playing for third and the top two sides playing for the title.
All six sides are involved in the Rugby World Cup later in the year with Samoa and the USA grouped with Japan in Pool A. Japan and Samoa won their respective conferences in 2014, but in 2015, there only be one winner with the competition expected to be fiercely contested.