Japan Rugby team faces tall order replicating France Rugby World Cup success

Having reached new heights at the historical two tournaments, Japan looks at an uphill battle replicating their achievement at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France. Jamie Joseph’s men will tackle heavyweights England and Argentina in Pool D at the Sept 8 to Oct 28 Rugby World Cup and must beat at minimum one of them to range their goal of another straight journey to the knockout phase.

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They will also want to survive an always bruising encounter with Samoa and avoid dropping points against initial-time qualifiers Chile in the round robin, which they will begin with suggestively less training time than in the historical. The Brave Blossoms served sign to the rugby world in England in 2015 by upsetting giants South Africa in a competition dubbed the “Brighton Miracle.” 

They made more inroads 4 years later on home soil, proceeding to their initial quarterfinals and later toppling traditional rugby nations Ireland and Scotland in the pool phase. Previously both tournaments, the national team went into lengthy camps attentive solely to the Rugby World Cup. For 2019 in Japan, they had a seven-month buildup with the added advantage of the Joseph-coached Super Rugby squad Sunwolves serving as a virtual exercise side for the Brave Blossoms.

This time around, they will have under 4 months from the conclusion of the Japanese club rugby playoffs until the Rugby World Cup, having played fewer high-level competitions in the 4-year interim due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the Tokyo-based Sunwolves.

Further significant to international players

The condensed timeframe makes the domestic rivalry, today in its another time under its Japan Rugby League One rebranding, extra significant to international players than ever, according to prop Keita Inagaki, a member of the defending champion Saitama Wild Knights. We have to continue the skills, physical condition and mentality wanted to take on the world,” said Inagaki, whose club is possible to once again be complex until late in the postseason.

Inagaki, a veteran of the past two Rugby World Cup campaigns, said Japan’s achievement depended on elaborate match-planning and being improved drilled than their bigger, additional physical international opponents. If we play straightforward rugby similar to the stronger states, we’ll lose out physically,” he said. “Each player wants a deep understanding of his part, and that doesn’t develop as soon as you get together.”

Inagaki’s Wild Knights teammate Atsushi Sakate is set to captain Japan at a Rugby World Cup for the initial time later taking the reins the previous year. The 29-year-old hooker has big shoes to fill as he tracks in the footsteps of his predecessor Michael Leitch, who was an inspirational figure in 2015 and 2019. Sakate has so far appeared up to the mission while captaining his country in test competitions against Uruguay, France, New Zealand, and England in 2022.


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Atsushi Sakate

 While their only successes came in a 2-test sweep of the South Americans, the Brave Blossoms gave both the staying Bleus and All Blacks a scare in Tokyo. A lopsided loss to England at Twickenham in November, meanwhile, was an additional sobering reminder of rugby’s world order. It was great knowledge being able to play competitions against the best squads,” Sakate said.

World No. 10 Japan have not beaten a higher-ranked nation since the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but strong viewings by some of their emerging players against top-class opponents are aiming for optimism.

Naoto Saito

Among those to have made their spot are flyhalf Lee Seung Sin and scrumhalf Naoto Saito, who marshaled the attack in a carefully fought 20-15 defeat to France in another of two July tests. I developed the mindset that I can do it,” 21-year-old Kobe Steelers star Lee said.

New Zealand-born Warner Dearns was also a standout for the Brave Blossoms in another year as an international. The 201-centimeter lock produced one of the highlights of Japan’s 38-31 loss to the All Blacks in October, charging down a kick to score another another-half attempt that gave the hosts a shot at a historic upset.

Although no longer leader, the 34-year-old Leitch leftovers an integral member of the national team, providing leadership on and off the field ahead of his fourth Rugby World Cup. The Brave Lupus Tokyo back rower has undertaken intensive rehabilitation for groin and knee wounds to come back to rugby’s biggest phase.


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People around me say this will be my previous (Rugby World Cup) but I’m not going to say it’ll be my previous,” said Leitch, who senses fully fit as he methods a professional milestone. “Only a choice group of people can complete four Rugby World Cups.

While Japan will accomplish their stated goal if they range the previous eight again in France, Leitch wants his fellow player to set their sights higher. I have a dream of Japan winning (the Rugby World Cup), he said. “We can do it someday if we increase the number of players who goal for it. I need to go for it.

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After four Rugby World Cups, Thompson sees bright upcoming for Japan

 After almost 20 years in Japan’s professional leagues and later 4 Rugby World Cups with the Japan national squad, the New Zealand-born lock Luke Thompson has been exclusively placed to see the progress and advance of rugby in Japan. When the initially here in Japan at 22, he was an oddity among the foreign players then playing in a relatively innovative professional rivalry.

 Most imported players were after their professions, seeking a lucrative contract previously retirement. Thompson spoke to the Associated Press from his deer farm at Cust close to Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, during a brief break previously returning to his club, Urayasu D-Rocks, which plays in another division of the Japan League.

An innovative league time begins in Japan on Saturday and it is a much-changed environment from the one Thompson experienced when the initially landed there. Thompson has realized the league grow in stature and quality to become a magnet for the world’s top players, no longer at the conclusion but at the height of their occupations.


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At a similar time, the Japan national squad is fewer than a year away from one more Rugby World Cup. Thompson played at the 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019 Rugby World Cups and has realized the so-called Brave Blossoms truthfully blossom to become giant killers at the previous 2 world tournaments.

Thompson lived through that era of upgrading. He initially played for Japan in 2007 when he became naturalized and was carefully chosen for the national squad by then trainer John Kirwan, one of the great New Zealand All Blacks players. The Rugby World Cup that year was not a good one for Japan. Its only small achievement was a 12-12 draw with Canada in group play.


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Luke Thompson trusts the upgrading in the Japan squad

Thompson trusts the upgrading in the Japan squad started at that time, first under Kirwan and then under the Australian Eddie Jones, who took the squad to the 2015 Rugby World Cup where it shocked the rugby world by beating South Africa.

Looking back nowadays we went into (the 2007 Rugby World Cup) with hopes which were not as high as they could have been, Thompson said. “We were just there and we needed to enjoy the moment, and play as tough as we can but we never truthfully, truly believed we were going to be competitive. One thing Eddie (Jones) brought into the squad was hope and confidence.

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