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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Witnessing Historical past As England Play A Rugby Match In Japan For The First Time In 45 Years!

Seeing double! Which crew would I assist for this match?!

Rugby in Japan was very a lot a minor sport once I first noticed the nationwide crew in stay motion again in June 2005 as they have been thrashed by Eire. Issues modified a decade later although on the again of that sensational final minute profitable strive in opposition to the mighty South Africa within the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It was good timing forward of them internet hosting the 2019 event and the sport has continued to develop and develop.

While I do sometimes lengthy for the outdated days when it was a lot simpler to get tickets for Courageous Blossoms matches (you possibly can simply pay on the gate!) I’m delighted to have witnessed the expansion within the crew. I really feel an in depth attachment to them and all the time need them to win with one exception. That’s after all once they play my dwelling nation.

Conferences between England and Japan haven’t taken place too typically throughout my rugby-watching lifetime. After all England performed on Japanese soil seven instances within the 2019 Rugby World Cup however this take a look at match was their first time to play the hosts in Japan since Could 1979 once they performed two matches which weren’t formally recognised to carry take a look at match standing. The primary of these almost noticed the house crew pull off a shock earlier than a late transformed strive saved England’s blushes at a time when Japan have been nowhere close to the power they’re in the present day. Would final Saturday’s match at Japan Nationwide Stadium have an analogous finale?

Nonetheless 4 hours until kick off!

The person who masterminded the aforementioned sensational win in opposition to the Springboks in 2015 was the Australian Eddie Jones. He was accountable for the Aussie nationwide crew once they misplaced the 2003 Rugby World Cup in opposition to England in Sydney. After the 2015 World Cup he was the England head coach for seven years earlier than his Australia reappointment which culminated in a disastrous 2023 World Cup marketing campaign. He’s now again on the helm of Japan so he was very a lot on the heart of any hype surrounding final weekend’s conflict.

I used to be actually up for the event and really received to the stadium a mere 4 hours earlier than kick off! There have been already a couple of hundred supporters milling round and being there so early did imply it was straightforward to get among the photograph alternatives out of the way in which earlier than the crowds arrived and the traces started to type and develop ever longer. I posed for a few tacky photographs in my Japan shirt however then switched to the England one for the remainder of the day.


Having rained closely just about continuous the day earlier than, the match day was fortunately a transparent sunny one however with three hours until kick off I made a decision to take a break from the stadium environment so headed down the street to get some lunch and to only loosen up for a bit within the shade. It was quite a bit busier once I returned about 90 minutes earlier than kick off!


A workers member was now available to take supporters photos for them in entrance of the signal under while holding on to the match ball with the respective Blossom and Rose emblems on it.

Going into this take a look at match, England had a 100% file in opposition to Japan (together with two World Cup matches in 1987 and 2023) however this was most likely the primary to be contested for the Lipovitan D Problem Cup!

About an hour earlier than kick off I met up with my associates. First to reach was Hiromi who was on the stadium for the primary time. I believed she ought to stroll across the stadium a bit so we headed to the photograph spots. We then needed to go and meet Mac who was truly in Good (France) for the groups most up-to-date match-up in final 12 months’s Rugby World Cup group levels. He wished to get a photograph so again spherical we went once more.

On our approach inside Mac seen an aquaintance he knew from earlier Rugby World Cups. I additionally recognised him and was positive I met him 11 years in the past when Japan performed Samoa down the street at Chichibunomiya Rugby Floor. He did say he was there so it most likely was the identical man!

It was fairly muggy inside as we lastly took our seats within the stand and never lengthy after that the groups emerged from the tunnel for this history-making first official take a look at match performed between the perimeters in Japan.


The group all stood for the respective anthems, and Mac belted out the phrases for each of them loudly and passionately.


It was a powerful begin from Jones’ inexperienced aspect and certainly they dominated the primary ten minutes or so however solely managed to place three factors on the board regardless of being so near the strive line.


England fought again after that and by no means actually seemed again. With 4 tries within the first half it actually did appear to be it was recreation over. The most effective of the 4 tries was proper on half time as Marcus Smith’s fantastic kick discovered Henry Slade in area on the far aspect. You may say that Christmas got here early for Slade!

The second half was a lot of the identical with England scoring one other 4 tries however  fortunately the Japanese received a few tries in fast succession amidst all that to make the rating just a little bit extra respectable. They have been nice moments, particularly the second, and actually introduced the group to life once they’d been quite subdued due to the scoreline. Thoughts you, England did put extra factors on the board after that regardless of being a person quick at one stage.

Rugby icon Michael Leitch was reinstated as captain for this match and he was naturally interviewed after the ultimate whistle together with the England captain Jamie George and the respective coaches too.

Each side went spherical the bottom to thank the followers for his or her assist with the England crew receiving an enormous spherical of applause from the house trustworthy once they bowed to the group.


The prestiguous trophy was lastly offered to the England captain and shortly after that Mac and I made our approach out (Hiromi had already left) and headed to the station while reflecting on all that we had witnessed that afternoon.

It wasn’t fairly the competition we’d hoped for and, as anticipated, England saved up their 100% win price in opposition to the Courageous Blossoms. None of that mattered an excessive amount of although as for us it was all in regards to the event and personally I used to be simply joyful to have witnessed either side compete in a world take a look at match.

Closing Rating: Japan 17-52 England

Click on right here to learn ‘The Highs & Lows Of Watching England’s First Match At The Rugby World Cup In Sapporo’

Click on right here to learn ‘Twists & Turns Aplenty At Japan’s Title-Deciding Rugby Play-Off Closing’

Click on right here to learn ‘I Met An England Rugby Union Legend’

Click on right here to learn ‘Rugby World Cup Fever Grips Japan For Six Memorable Weeks Of Motion’

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