2015–16 Top League

The 2015–16 Top League was the 13th season of Japan's domestic rugby union competition, the Top League. It kicked off on 13 November 2015 and was completed on 24 January 2016.[1] The final was won by Panasonic Wild Knights defeating Toshiba Brave Lupus by 27–26.

2015–16 Top League
Panasonic win the Lixil Cup for season 2015–16.
Countries Japan
Date13 November 2015 – 24 January 2016
ChampionsPanasonic Wild Knights (4th title)
Runners-upToshiba Brave Lupus
Matches played115
Top point scorer Ayumu Goromaru (83 pts)
 Yamaha Júbilo
Top try scorer Taiyo Ando (6 tries)
 Toyota Verblitz
Shota Emi (6 tries)
 Suntory Sungoliath

A short pre-season competition was also played from 3 September to 10 October 2015 to provide each Top League team with five official matches before the regular season.[2][3]

Teams

The only change to the make-up of the league was the Challenge One winner Honda Heat replacing Kyuden Voltex.[4]

Team Region Coach Captain
Canon Eagles Machida, Tokyo, Kantō Yoji Nagatomo
Coca-Cola Red Sparks Fukuoka, Kyushu Tomohiro Yamaguchi Kouta Yamashita
Honda Heat Suzuka, Mie Tomoaki Fujimoto
Kintetsu Liners Higashiosaka, Osaka, Kansai Ryusuke Maeda Daiki Toyota
Kobelco Steelers Kobe, Kansai Allister Coetzee Daiki Hashimoto
Kubota Spears Abiko, Chiba, Kantō Toutai Kefu Naomichi Tatekawa
NEC Green Rockets Abiko, Chiba, Kantō Masao Amino Sunao Takizawa
NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes Osaka, Kansai Masahiro Shimoki
NTT Com Shining Arcs Chiba, Chiba, Kantō Rob Penney Yuya Mizoguchi
Panasonic Wild Knights Ota, Gunma, Kantō Robbie Deans Shota Horie
Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo, Kantō Damien Hill Masahiro Noguchi
Suntory Sungoliath Fuchū, Tokyo, Kantō Andy Friend
Toshiba Brave Lupus Fuchū, Tokyo, Kantō Jimmy Stonehouse Yoshikazu Morita
Toyota Industries Shuttles Aichi, Mizuho Masaya Niu Tsuyoshi Matsuoka
Toyota Verblitz Toyota, Aichi, Tokai Hiroshi Sugawara Kojiro Yoshida
Yamaha Júbilo Iwata, Shizuoka, Tokai Takanobu Horikawa

Format

Owing to the 2015 Rugby World Cup and Japan's entry into the 2016 Super Rugby tournament, the 2015–16 Top League format was altered from the previous year.

Pre-season league

A pre-season competition was staged to provide each Top League team with five matches before the regular season. In the first stage, played from 3–19 September, the 16 teams were placed into 4 pools of 4 teams each and a round-robin was played within each pool.[2][3]

For the second stage, played from 3–10 October, the top teams in each pool were bracketed together to determine the pre-season competition winner. Semifinals and a consolation final and final were played to decide positions 1 to 4. The second-ranked teams in each pool played off for positions 5 to 8, the third-ranked teams played off for positions 9 to 12, and the bottom teams from each pool played off for positions 13 to 16.[2][3]

Regular season

For the Pool stage, the 16 teams were placed into 2 pools of 8 teams each and a round-robin was played within each of the pools. At the conclusion of the pool stage, the top 4 sides in each pool advanced to the title play-offs to determine the Top League champion and the final classification positions 1 to 8. Similarly, the bottom 4 sides in each pool went on to the lower bracket play-offs to determine the final classification positions 9 to 16.

Pre-season

Standings

Pre-season play-offs

Fourth bracket

  13th–16th semifinal            
  B4 Coca-Cola Red Sparks 24  
  D4 Toyota Shokki Shuttles 35   Thirteenth play-off
      W1 Toyota Shokki Shuttles 21
  13th–16th semifinal   W2 Kubota Spears 17
  A4 Honda Heat 10
  C4 Kubota Spears 40   Fifteenth play-off
    L1 Coca-Cola Red Sparks 24
    L2 Honda Heat 21

Third bracket

  9th–12th semifinal            
  A3 NEC Green Rockets 20  
  C3 NTT Com Shining Arcs 28   Ninth play-off
      W3 NTT Com Shining Arcs 48
  9th–12th semifinal   W4 Canon Eagles 25
  B3 Yamaha Jubilo 24
  D3 Canon Eagles 27   Eleventh play-off
    L3 NEC Green Rockets 18
    L4 Yamaha Jubilo 26

Second bracket

  5th–8th semifinal            
  B2 Kintetsu Liners 22  
  D2 Ricoh Black Rams 32   Fifth play-off
      W5 Ricoh Black Rams 17
  5th–8th semifinal   W6 NTTDoCoMoRedHurricanes 26
  A2 Panasonic Wild Knights*
  C2 NTTDoCoMoRedHurricanes w/o   Seventh play-off
    L5 Kintetsu Liners w/o
    L6 Panasonic Wild Knights
Notes:

^* Panasonic forfeited their semifinal. NTT Docomo gained the walk over.
^† Panasonic forfeited the 7th place final. Kintetsu gained the walk over.

First bracket

  1st–4th semifinal            
  B1 Suntory Sungoliath 23  
  D1 Toshiba Brave Lupus 21   Final
      W7 Suntory Sungoliath 24
  1st–4th semifinal   W8 Kobelco Steelers 27
  A1 Toyota Verblitz 14
  C1 Kobelco Steelers 30   Third play-off
    L7 Toshiba Brave Lupus 13
    L8 Toyota Verblitz 20

Regular season

Standings

Top League - Pool Stage
Pool A
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Difference Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1Yamaha Júbilo7601226140+865029
2Kobelco Steelers7502235137+985227
3Toyota Verblitz7502203125+785126
4Canon Eagles7502196142+544125
5Toyota Industries Shuttles7304175212-371013
6NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes7214141197-561112
7NEC Green Rockets7115100202-102017
8Coca-Cola Red Sparks7007143264-121123
Updated: 27 December 2015
Source: rugbyarchive.net

  Teams 1 to 4 (Green background) advance to the title play-offs.
  Teams 5 to 8 (Blue background) go on to the lower bracket play-offs.

Pool B
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Difference Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1Panasonic Wild Knights7610290137+1535031
2Toshiba Brave Lupus7511253100+1534026
3Kintetsu Liners7502189193-43023
4NTT Com Shining Arcs7403190142+484222
5Suntory Sungoliath7403227148+794121
6Kubota Spears7205118240-1221110
7Honda Heat710699253-154015
8Ricoh Black Rams7007129282-153112
Updated: 27 December 2015
Source: rugbyarchive.net

  Teams 1 to 4 (Green background) advance to the title play-offs.
  Teams 5 to 8 (Blue background) go on to the lower bracket play-offs.

Source: rugbyarchive.net

Four points for a win, two for a draw, one bonus point for four tries or more (BP1) and one bonus point for losing by seven or less (BP2). If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
  Difference between points for and against
  Total number of points for
  Number of matches won
  Aggregate number of points scored in matches between tied teams
  Number of matches won excluding the first match, then the second and so on until the tie is settled

    Pool stage

    Round 1










    Round 2










    Round 3










    Round 4










    Round 5










    Round 6










    Round 7










    Lower bracket play-offs

     
    Lower quarterfinals9th to 12th bracketNinth place
     
              
     
    9 January 2016 – 14:00 – Match 4
     
     
    NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes
     
    16 January 2016 – 14:05 – Match 8
     
    Honda Heat
     
    Winner Match 4
     
    9 January 2016 – 11:40 – Match 1
     
    Winner Match 1
     
    Coca-Cola Red Sparks
     
    23 January 2016 – 14:00
     
    Suntory Sungoliath
     
    Winner Match 8
     
    9 January 2016 – 14:00 – Match 2
     
    Winner Match 7
     
    Toyota Industries Shuttles
     
    16 January 2016 – 14:00 – Match 7
     
    Ricoh Black Rams
     
    Winner Match 2
     
    9 January 2016 – 11:40 – Match 3
     
    Winner Match 3Eleventh place
     
    NEC Green Rockets
     
    23 January 2016 – 12:00
     
    Kubota Spears
     
    Loser Match 8
     
     
    Loser Match 7
     
     
    13th to 16th bracketThirteenth place
     
          
     
    16 January 2016 – 11:40 – Match 5
     
     
    Loser Match 2
     
    23 January 2016 – 14:00
     
    Loser Match 3
     
    Winner Match 5
     
    16 January 2016 – 12:00 – Match 6
     
    Winner Match 6
     
    Loser Match 4
     
     
    Loser Match 1
     
    Fifteenth place
     
     
    23 January 2016 – 11:40
     
     
    Loser Match 5
     
     
    Loser Match 6

    Lower quarterfinals






    Play-offs 9th–12th and 13th–16th






    Classification finals






    Title play-offs

     
    Quarter-finalsSemi-finalsFinal
     
              
     
    9 January 2016 – 13:00 – Match 4
     
     
    Yamaha Júbilo
     
    16 January 2016 – 14:00 – Match 7
     
    NTT Com Shining Arcs
     
    Winner of Match 4
     
    9 January 2016 – 14:00 – Match 1
     
    Winner of Match 1
     
    Toyota Verblitz
     
    24 January 2016 – 14:00 – Chichibunomiya
     
    Toshiba Brave Lupus
     
    Winner of Match 7
     
    9 January 2016 – 11:40 – Match 2
     
    Winner of Match 8
     
    Kobelco Steelers
     
    16 January 2016 – 14:05 – Match 8
     
    Kintetsu Liners
     
    Winner of Match 2
     
    9 January 2016 – 13:00 – Match 3
     
    Winner of Match 3Third place
     
    Canon Eagles
     
    24 January 2016 – 11:40 – Chichibunomiya
     
    Panasonic Wild Knights
     
    Loser of Match 7
     
     
    Loser of Match 8
     
     
    5th to 8th bracketFifth place
     
          
     
    16 January 2016 – 11:40 – Match 5
     
     
    Loser of Match 4
     
    23 January 2016 – 14:00
     
    Loser of Match 1
     
    Winner of Match 5
     
    16 January 2016 – 12:00 – Match 6
     
    Winner of Match 6
     
    Loser of Match 2
     
     
    Loser of Match 3
     
    Seventh place
     
     
    23 January 2016 – 11:40
     
     
    Loser of Match 5
     
     
    Loser of Match 6

    Quarterfinals






    Semifinals and play-offs 5th–8th






    Classification finals





    Final

    24 January 2015 Toshiba Brave Lupus 26–27 Panasonic Wild Knights Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo  
    14:00 Attendance: 24,557

    All-Japan qualification

    The 2016 All-Japan Rugby Football Championship took place as a one-off final match played between the respective winners of the Japanese Top League competition and the All-Japan University Rugby Championship. The match will be played at the Chichibunomiya Stadium in Tokyo on 31 January 2016.[5]

    The abbreviated format was chosen due to the busy schedule for Japanese Rugby which included the 2015 Rugby World Cup as well as Asian qualification for the 2016 Olympics and the introduction of a Japanese Super Rugby team.[5]

    Top League Challenge Series

    Kyuden Voltex, Mitsubishi Sagamihara DynaBoars, Munakata Sanix Blues and Osaka Police progressed to the promotion play-offs.

    Promotion and relegation play-offs

    End of season awards

    Team of the season

    # Winner Team
    1. Keita InagakiPanasonic Wild Knights
    2. Shota HoriePanasonic Wild Knights
    3. Takuma AsaharaToshiba Brave Lupus
    4. Andries BekkerKobelco Steelers
    5. Daniel HeenanPanasonic Wild Knights
    6. Michael LeitchCanon Eagles
    7. Shokei KinNTT Com Shining Arcs
    8. Amanaki Lelei MafiNTT Com Shining Arcs
    9. Fumiaki TanakaPanasonic Wild Knights
    10. Berrick BarnesPanasonic Wild Knights
    11. Shota EmiSuntory Sungoliath
    12. Richard KahuiToshiba Brave Lupus
    13. JP PietersenPanasonic Wild Knights
    14. Tomoki KitagawaPanasonic Wild Knights
    15. Ayumu GoromaruYamaha Júbilo

    References

    1. "Top League Schedule 2015-16 Season". Rugby News Japan. 29 May 2015. Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
    2. "Japan - Pre Season League 2015/16". Rugby Archive. 2015. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
    3. "Japan Rugby Top League pre-season league". Suntory. 2015. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
    4. "Top League trio retain status". jrfu.org. 14 February 2015. Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
    5. Hinato (21 May 2015). "The final of the All Japan Championship 31 January". Japon Rugby (in French). Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
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