Japan national rugby union team

The Japan national rugby union team (often known as the Cherry Blossoms, Sakura, and, more recently, The Brave Blossoms), is traditionally the strongest rugby union power in Asia and has enjoyed and endured mixed results against non-Asian teams over the years. Rugby union in Japan is administered by the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU), which was founded in 1926. They compete annually in the Pacific Nations Cup and previously in the Asia Rugby Championship. They have also participated in every Rugby World Cup since the tournament began in 1987.

Nickname(s)Cherry Blossoms/Brave Blossoms/Sakuras
UnionJapan Rugby Football Union
Head coachJamie Joseph
CaptainMichael Leitch
Most capsHitoshi Ono (98)
Top scorerAyumu Goromaru (708)
Top try scorerDaisuke Ohata (69)
Home stadiumChichibunomiya Stadium
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current8 (as of 21 October 2019)
Highest7 (2019)
Lowest20 (2006)
First international
Japan 9–8 Canada
(Osaka, Japan; 31 January 1932)
Biggest win
Japan 155–3 Chinese Taipei
(Tokyo, Japan; 1 July 2002)
Biggest defeat
Japan 17–145 New Zealand
(Bloemfontein, South Africa; 4 June 1995)
World Cup
Appearances8 (First in 1987)
Best resultQuarter-finals, 2019

Rugby was first played in Japan's treaty ports as early as 1866. Popular participation by local university teams was established in 1899 and Japan's first recorded international match was a match against a Canadian team in 1932. Notable games for Japan include a victory over the Junior All Blacks in 1968, and a narrow 6–3 loss to England in 1971. Famous wins by Japan include a 28–24 victory over a Scotland XV in 1989 and a 23–8 victory over Wales in 2013. In the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Japan drew 12–12 against Canada. In 2011, Japan displayed its progress by winning the 2011 IRB Pacific Nations Cup, played against Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. Further progress was displayed in 2014 when Japan completed a string of ten consecutive test wins (a record for a tier 2 team) to rank in the world's top 10 teams.[1] This continued into 2015 where they produced the first of their three biggest upsets when, in a Rugby World Cup pool match against the Springboks, they won 34–32.[2][3][4]

In the years between, Japan faced quality opposition, playing relatively well with quality results including a tie against France, and a narrow loss to Wales at Cardiff. Their second shock win was a 19–12 defeat of world number-two ranked Ireland in a 2019 Rugby World Cup pool game. Emerging undefeated from the tournament's pool stage after a 28-21 victory over Scotland, Japan made their first ever World Cup quarter-final appearance, going down 3-26 to South Africa.[5][6]


The first recorded instance of a team being established and rugby being played in Japan was in 1866 with the founding of the Yokohama Foot Ball Club. Games, mainly between service personnel, were played on the Garrison Parade Ground in Yamate, Yokohama.[7] In 1874 records also illustrate British sailors staging a game in Yokohama. Other games were played at other treaty ports such as Kobe between teams of long-term foreign residents and visiting ships' crews and garrisons, but they rarely involved indigenous Japanese. The date of local Japanese participation in the sport is most frequently cited as 1899, when students at Keio University were introduced to the game by Professor Edward Bramwell Clarke and Ginnosuke Tanaka both graduates of Cambridge University.

The formation of a national team and effectively Japan's first international match took place in Osaka on 31 January 1932 when a trade delegation from Canada to Japan supported an overseas tour by the Canada national rugby union team. The Japanese won this first match 9–8. In a second test match in Tokyo 11 days later again the Japanese side beat the Canadians 38–5.[8]

Japan beat the Junior All Blacks 23–19 in 1968 after losing the first four matches on a tour of New Zealand, but they won the last five. The Japanese (coached by Waseda University Professor Onishi Tetsunosuke) lost by just 3–6 to England in Tokyo on 29 September 1971 in the RFU's centenary year. The 1973 Japan rugby union tour of Wales, England and France was less successful with the side winning only two of their eleven matches, and losing the international matches against Wales and France. Ten years later Japan gave Wales a fright in losing by a slim five-point margin, 24–29, at Cardiff Arms Park on 2 October 1983.

On 28 May 1989, a strong Japan coached by Hiroaki Shukuzawa defeated an uncapped Scotland, missing nine British Lions on tour in Australia, for the first time at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, 28–24. The Japan team included such Kobe Steel stalwarts as centre Seiji Hirao (captain), and locks Atsushi Oyagi and Toshiyuki Hayashi (38 Japan caps and a member of Oxford University's all-time best XV). Sinali Latu at No. 8 was then a fourth year student at Daito Bunka University, and speedy Yoshihito Yoshida on the wing (no. 14) was a third year at Meiji University. Scotland missed an incredible seven penalties and refused the kicking tee which was generously offered – as a surviving video of the game shows. It was almost the same Japanese team which defeated Zimbabwe in RWC1991.

Under Shogo Mukai (2001–2003)

After Hirao resigned, Toshiba Brave Lupus coach Shogo Mukai was appointed in March 2001 to lead Japan up to the 2003 Rugby World Cup. After mixed fortunes in his first two years in charge, Japan put in some impressive performances at the tournament with good efforts against Scotland and France, nevertheless they still left the tournament having failed to reach their target of winning some matches but still won admirers for their exciting brand of play. Mukai left his post after the tournament to spend more time with his family.

Under Mitsutake Hagimoto (2004–2005)

After Shogo Mukai left after the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the JRFU initially tried to appoint Eddie Jones from his post with Australia but were unsuccessful and instead appointed Mitsutake Hagimoto in March 2004 after he won the inaugural Top League with the Kobelco Steelers. Under Hagimoto, Japan decided they would not select foreign born players after Mukai had been criticised for playing too many at the World Cup.

Hagimoto's first match in charge was a disappointing draw with Korea, but his first few matches in charge after that were promising with wins over Russia and Canada to win the Super Powers Cup and pushed Italy close losing 32–19.

However, in November 2004, Japan went on a disastrous tour to Europe where they were embarrassingly thrashed 100–8 by Scotland and 98–0 by Wales and also were comfortably defeated by Romania. Japan's performances were described as "pathetic", and the squad was called "a joke" with some key players ignored or not given permission to travel.

This disastrous tour forced a rethink from Hagimoto and foreign born players were brought back into the side in 2005, but after losing twice to Ireland in June he was sacked and with just 5 wins from 15 matches was the least successful coach for Japan in the professional era.

Under Jean-Pierre Élissalde (2005–2006)

After Hagimoto left his post at the end of June 2005, Jean-Pierre Élissalde who had been appointed backs coach three months earlier took full charge and became the first foreigner to be the head coach for Japan. His first match in charge was a 44–29 win over Spain in November 2005.

In 2006, despite a disappointing campaign in the inaugural Pacific Nations Cup in June where Japan lost all their matches, and also lost to heavily to Italy 52–6, Élissalde was backed to lead the side to the 2007 Rugby World Cup. But Élissalde was later sacked in September after he took on a job with Bayonne without consulting the JRFU and then refused to give up his job with them.[9] Assistant coach Osamu Ota took over as caretaker coach for two Rugby World Cup qualifiers in November 2006.

Under John Kirwan (2007–2011)

John Kirwan was appointed head coach on in October 2006 after Elissalde was sacked. He initially worked as an advisor to caretaker coach Osamu Ota before taking over the job completely in 2007.

After starting with large wins over the Asian opposition, Japan only won one of their remaining 10 fixtures in 2007, although in the 2007 Rugby World Cup they did gain a draw with a last minute touchline conversion from Shotaro Onishi against Canada to end a long losing streak of World Cup matches stretching back to 1991.

Results began to pick up after the 2007 World Cup and Kirwan led Japan up to a high of 13th in the IRB Rankings and to win their first ever Pacific Nations Cup title in 2011 after they beat Fiji away for the first ever time in Japan's history.

However, despite more positive results in between World Cups, Japan had a disappointing 2011 Rugby World Cup, losing 31–18 to Tonga who they had beaten four times in a row since 2008, and drawing again to Canada who they had beaten 46–8 and 27–6 in 2009, and Japan left the World Cup winless meaning they still had not won a match at the tournament since 1991. Kirwan came under pressure after the tournament and he resigned from his post after his contract came to the end at the end of the year.

The tenure of Kirwan as coach was notable for a large amount of imports he selected. Players who originated from New Zealand such as James Arlidge, Bryce Robins, Shaun Webb, Ryan Nicholas, Luke Thompson or Tonga such as Alisi Tupuailei and Sione Vatuvei all featured prominently under Kirwan. The large percentage of foreigners in the national team also caused criticism for Kirwan. However, despite failing to bring Japan a World Cup win, Kirwan left his post as the most successful Japan coach of the professional era with a win rate of 58.18% from 55 matches.

Under Eddie Jones (2012–2015)

Kirwan chose not to renew his contract as head coach when it expired at the end of 2011, and the Japan Rugby Football Union announced that former Australia coach Eddie Jones would be his successor.[10] Jones stated that his intention was to take the Japanese national team into the top 10 on the international rankings, and that they must develop a style of play to allow them to win games against teams such as Scotland and Wales.

Jones made his debut as Japan head coach against Kazakhstan. He had selected a total of 10 uncapped players out of the 22 selected players. They went on to win the match 87–0. They then had a big win over United Arab Emirates where young 18-year-old Yoshikazu Fujita set a new Asian Five Nations record for the most tries in a single match with a total of 6. This was also Fujita's international debut.[11]

In 2013, Jones led Japan to their sixth consecutive championship win in the Asian Five Nations, where Japan achieved a tournament record score of 121–0 against the Philippines. In May, the nation lost their opening match of the 2013 IRB Pacific Nations Cup to Tonga, followed by a defeat to Fiji in the second round. Following these matches, Japan faced a 2-test series against Wales. Japan lost narrowly, 18–22, in the first test, but won the second test 23–8, and the series ended in a 1–1 draw. This was the first time that Japan had recorded a victory over the Welsh.

On 16 October 2013, Jones was hospitalised after having a suspected stroke and was released from hospital 2 days later on 18 October 2013.[12][13] After his release from hospital, it was announced that Jones would miss Japan's 2013 end-of-year rugby union tests against New Zealand, Scotland, Gloucester, Russia and Spain, and former Australia skills coach and current technical adviser for Japan Scott Wisemantel would interim coach Japan for their 2013 end-of-year rugby union tests.[14]

On 19 September 2015, Japan stunned South Africa by a last minute try from Karne Hesketh to win 34–32 in their opening group pool game at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Brighton, England. BBC reported the win as "arguably the biggest upset in rugby union history".[15] In 2015, Japan became the first team in World Cup history to win three pool games but still be eliminated at the group stage, due to their heavy loss to Scotland.[16]

Under Jamie Joseph (2016–present)

Jamie Joseph, former coach of New Zealand's Highlanders Super Rugby team and the Māori All Blacks, took over as head coach for Japan (and the Sunwolves Super Rugby team) in 2016. In the 2017 Asia Rugby Championship, Japan sealed their twelfth consecutive Asia Rugby Championship, winning all four games. They went on to defeat Romania 33–21 in the 2017 June rugby union tests, but lost to Ireland 2–0, during their first test series since 2005, losing the first test 50–22 and the second 35–13. In November 2017, Joseph led his side to a single win and a draw in four games. They started their End-of-year series with two consecutive home losses, a 27–47 loss to a World XV side and a 30–63 loss to Australia. Japan's first win came against Tonga 39–6 in Toulouse, France, before going on to draw with France 23–23, which was the first time that these two nations had drawn with one another.

During the 2018 June tests, Joseph led Japan to a 1–all series draw with Italy, winning the first test 34–17, and losing the second 25–22. The team then beat Georgia 28–0 at the Toyota Stadium.

In 2019, Japan won the Pacific Nations Cup with wins against Fiji, Tonga and the United States, with no losses.

Japan hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and the team repeated their feat of a shock win in Brighton at the 2015 World Cup, this time beating world No. 2-ranked Ireland 19–12 at Shizuoka Stadium in Fukuroi, Shizuoka[17][18] They reached the quarter-finals for the first time in the team's history after beating Scotland 28–21 at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama that was battered by Typhoon Hagibis only the night before.[19]

Tournament history

Rugby World Cup

Japan has participated in the Rugby World Cup since the tournament's inception in 1987, and has made appearances in all tournaments thus far. Despite this, they experienced little success until the 2015 tournament, with just one victory over Zimbabwe in 1991, and two draws with Canada in 2007 and 2011. In 2015 they defeated South Africa with a score of 34–32, their first win since 1991 against Zimbabwe, which they followed up with victories over Samoa and the United States in the same pool stage, but despite their 3–1 record failed to reach the knockout round.

They were the home team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which was held in Japan.

In the 2019 World Cup, Japan were drawn in Group A alongside Ireland, Russia, Samoa, and Scotland. After a nervy opening night win against Russia (30-10),[20] Japan went on to beat Ireland 19–12,[21] a huge upset and a result few predicted. Their third group game against Samoa ended in another win, this time 38-19, while also securing a highly important bonus point (for scoring four or more tries).[22]

In the highly anticipated final group game against Scotland, both teams needed to win to progress to the knockout stages at the expense of the other. The match went ahead despite pre-game worries that it would have to be cancelled due to the ongoing issues caused by Typhoon Hagibis. The pre-tournament rules stated that if the typhoon was sufficient enough to intervene, the game would be cancelled, and the result declared a draw. This controversial rule[23] would have allowed Japan to progress by default due to previous results.

After final safety checks, the game was allowed to commence. Japan edged out Scotland 28-21 to register their second shock win of the tournament. They also became the first Asian nation to top their group at a Rugby World Cup, and the first Asian team to progress to the knockout stages.[24]

Japan played South Africa in the quarter finals in Tokyo on Sunday 20 October 2019, kick off 19:15 JST. They kept pace with South Africa in the first half, but two tries and three penalties in the second half for South Africa put the game out of reach and Japan lost 26–3.[25]

World Cup record World Cup Qualification record
Year Round P W D L F A P W D L F A
1987Pool Stage300348123Automatically qualified
1991Pool Stage3102778732016563
1995Pool Stage300355252440021052
1999Pool Stage300336140330022125
2003Pool Stage400479163440042047
2007Pool Stage401364210660037960
2011Pool Stage401369184440032630
2015Pool Stage430198100880065841
2019Quarter-finals540111888Qualified as hosts
2023To be determinedAutomatically qualified
Total 10/10 33 8 2 23 526 1259 32 31 0 1 2279 318

Pacific Nations Cup

Asia Rugby Championship

Asia Rugby Championship record
Year Round P W D L PF PA
Total 25 titles 107 100 1 6 6286 891


Top 30 rankings as of 25 November 2019[26]
1  South Africa094.19
2  New Zealand092.11
3  England088.82
4  Wales085.02
5  Ireland084.45
6  Australia081.90
7  France080.88
8  Japan079.28
9  Scotland079.23
10  Argentina078.31
11  Fiji076.21
12  Italy072.04
13  Tonga071.44
14  Georgia071.26
15  Samoa070.72
16  Spain068.15
17  United States068.10
18  Uruguay067.41
19  Romania066.69
20  Russia063.09
21  Hong Kong061.25
22  Canada061.12
23  Namibia061.01
24  Portugal061.01
25  Netherlands060.08
26  Brazil058.89
27  Belgium055.74
28  Germany054.64
29  Chile053.83
30  South Korea053.11
*Change from the previous week
Japan's historical rankings
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 18 November 2019[26]

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Japan national XV to 13 October 2019.[27]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
 Arabian Gulf3300100.0%25620+236
 Australia A40400.0%51242−191
Australian Universities624033.3%6090−30
Emerging Wallabies210150.0%4139+2
British Columbia Bears622233.3%10382+21
 Chinese Taipei4400100.0%47427+447
 England XV50500.0%71131−60
 England Saxons20200.0%3092−62
England Students10100.0%043−43
England Under-23's20200.0%2577−52
Cambridge University413025.0%52110−58
Oxford University40400.0%28130−102
Oxford and Cambridge30300.0%30113−83
 France XV60600.0%31272−241
 Hong Kong29254086.2%1175370+805
 Ireland XV20200.0%2881−53
Ireland Students10100.0%1224−12
 South Korea36296180.1%1614517+1097
 New Zealand40400.0%61351−290
 New Zealand XV20200.0%4180−176
 Junior All Blacks817012.5%98337−239
New Zealand Universities15211213.3%221417−196
Queensland Reds10100.0%642−36
 Scotland XV413025.0%64165−101
 South Africa312033.4%4499−55
 Sri Lanka3300100.0%26629+237
 United Arab Emirates3300100.0%3106+304
 United States241013141.7%560675−115
 Wales XV40400.0%56229−173
Welsh Clubs10100.0%963−54

Wins against Tier 1 nations

Additionally, Japan tied  France 23-23 in Paris, 25 November 2017.[30]

Current squad

On 29 August, Japan named their 31-man for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.[31]

Caps updated: 20 October 2019

Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
Takuya Kitade Hooker (1992-09-14) 14 September 1992 1 Suntory Sungoliath
Atsushi Sakate Hooker (1993-06-21) 21 June 1993 21 Panasonic Wild Knights
Shota Horie Hooker (1986-01-21) 21 January 1986 66 Panasonic Wild Knights
Keita Inagaki Prop (1990-06-02) 2 June 1990 34 Panasonic Wild Knights
Koo Ji-won Prop (1994-07-20) 20 July 1994 13 Honda Heat
Yusuke Kizu Prop (1995-12-02) 2 December 1995 3 Toyota Verblitz
Isileli Nakajima Prop (1989-07-09) 9 July 1989 8 Kobelco Steelers
Asaeli Ai Valu Prop (1989-05-07) 7 May 1989 14 Panasonic Wild Knights
Uwe Helu Lock (1990-07-12) 12 July 1990 16 Yamaha Júbilo
James Moore Lock (1993-06-11) 11 June 1993 8 Munakata Sanix Blues
Luke Thompson Lock (1981-04-16) 16 April 1981 71 Kintetsu Liners
Wimpie van der Walt Lock (1989-01-06) 6 January 1989 16 NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes
Kazuki Himeno Loose forward (1994-07-27) 27 July 1994 17 Toyota Verblitz
Michael Leitch (c) Loose forward (1988-10-07) 7 October 1988 68 Toshiba Brave Lupus
Lappies Labuschagné Loose forward (1989-01-11) 11 January 1989 8 Kubota Spears
Amanaki Mafi Loose forward (1990-01-21) 21 January 1990 27 NTT Communications Shining Arcs
Yoshitaka Tokunaga Loose forward (1992-04-10) 10 April 1992 12 Toshiba Brave Lupus
Hendrik Tui Loose forward (1987-12-13) 13 December 1987 47 Suntory Sungoliath
Yutaka Nagare Scrum-half (1992-09-04) 4 September 1992 24 Suntory Sungoliath
Kaito Shigeno Scrum-half (1990-11-21) 21 November 1990 10 Toyota Verblitz
Fumiaki Tanaka Scrum-half (1985-01-03) 3 January 1985 75 Canon Eagles
Yu Tamura Fly-half (1989-01-09) 9 January 1989 62 Canon Eagles
Rikiya Matsuda Fly-half (1994-05-03) 3 May 1994 24 Panasonic Wild Knights
Ryoto Nakamura Centre (1991-06-03) 3 June 1991 24 Suntory Sungoliath
Timothy Lafaele Centre (1991-08-19) 19 August 1991 23 Kubota Spears
Will Tupou Centre (1990-07-20) 20 July 1990 12 Coca-Cola Red Sparks
Kenki Fukuoka Wing (1992-09-07) 7 September 1992 38 Panasonic Wild Knights
Lomano Lemeki Wing (1989-01-30) 30 January 1989 15 Honda Heat
Ataata Moeakiola Wing (1996-02-06) 6 February 1996 4 Kobelco Steelers
Kotaro Matsushima Fullback (1993-02-26) 26 February 1993 39 Suntory Sungoliath
Ryohei Yamanaka Fullback (1988-06-22) 22 June 1988 18 Kobelco Steelers

Notable former players



Japan traditionally plays with white and red hooped shirts (with white collar and cuffs) with a Sakura embroidered on the chest, paired with white shorts and white socks with red splashes. Between 2003 and 2011, the shirt was predominantly red with two white parallel hoops on the chest with white accents, sometimes with black or navy socks and shorts.

On July 4, 2019 the Japan Rugby Football Union on Thursday unveiled the national team's jersey for this year's Rugby World Cup, the shirt featuring a samurai helmet motif representing the tradition of Japan's warrior spirit. The combination of Samurai and Sakura (Cherry Blossom) has long been linked in Japanese culture.

The away kit usually consist of a navy blue uniform, white or navy shorts and navy blue socks, sometimes with white collar or panels, or black. The kit supplier since the 1960s is Canterbury. Currently, the jersey sponsors are Lipovitan D (in the front) and Toshiba (in the back). Previously, between 1997 and 2000, the shirt sponsor was Epson.

1960s–2002 Home
1960s–2002 Away
2003–2006 Home
2003–2006 Away
2007–2009 Home
2007–2009 Away
2011–2014 Home
2011–2014 Home
2015–2018 Home
2015–2018 Home

Player records

Most matches

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Won Lost Draw %
1Hitoshi OnoLock2004–20169878206035362.75
2Hirotoki OnozawaWing2001–2013817384137352.46
3Yukio MotokiCentre1991–2005797363147139.87
4Kensuke HatakeyamaProp2008–20167857215027164.74
5Fumiaki TanakaScrum-half2008–7560154627262.66
6Luke ThompsonLock2007–7159124425263.38
7Takashi KikutaniNumber 82005–20146857114126161.02
Michael LeitchFlanker2008–686264620269.11
9Shota HorieHooker2009–665974321266.66
10Takeomi ItoNumber 81996–20056340232636142.06
Yu TamuraFly-half2012–6349144121165.87

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[33]

Most tries

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries
1Daisuke OhataWing1996–20065855334569
2Hirotoki OnozawaWing2001–20138173827555
3Takashi KikutaniNumber 82005–201468571116032
4Terunori MasuhoWing1991–20014746114729
5Yoshikazu FujitaWing2012–30201013026
6Kenki FukuokaWing2013–3831712525
7Ryu Koliniasi HolaniNumber 82008–20164438611022
Kotaro MatsushimaFullback2014–3935411022
9Alisi TupuaileiCentre2009–20112013710521
10Toru KuriharaWing2000–20032823534720

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[34]

Most points

# Player Pos Span Mat Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1Ayumu GoromaruFullback2005–20155670818162980
2Keiji HiroseFly-half1994–200540422577792
3Toru KuriharaWing2000–2003283472071350
4Daisuke OhataWing1996–20065834569000
5James ArlidgeFly-half2007–201132286878282
6Hirotoki OnozawaWing2001–20138127555000
7Yu TamuraFly-half2012–63'273*555460
8Shaun WebbFly-half2008–201135198184560
9Ryan NicholasCentre2008–201238193953140
10Takashi KikutaniNumber 82005–20146816032000

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[35]

Most matches as captain

# Player Pos Span Mat Won Lost Draw % Pts Tries
1Takuro MiuchiNumber 82002–2008451727138.88306
2Takashi KikutaniNumber 82008–2013342112163.2311022
3Michael LeitchFlanker2014–332210168.185010
4Toshiaki HiroseWing2012–201318135072.22459
5Masahiro KundaHooker1993–19981459035.7100
6Yukio MotokiCentre1996–19971248033.3351
7Seiji HiraoCentre1989–19911156045.4500
8Toshiyuki HayashiLock1986–19871018115.0000
Andrew McCormickCentre1998–19991046040.0051
Akira YokoiCentre1970–19741036135.0000

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[36]

Most points in a match

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1Toru KuriharaWing6061500 Chinese Taipei Tainan21/07/2002
2Daisuke OhataWing408000 Chinese Taipei Tokyo21/07/2002
3Ayumu GoromaruFullback3711600 Sri Lanka Nagoya10/05/2014
4Ayumu GoromaruFullback3611410 Philippines Fukuoka20/04/2013
5Toru KuriharaWing3521110 South Korea Tokyo16/06/2002
6Keiji HiroseFly-half341190 Tonga Tokyo08/05/1999
7Ayumu GoromaruFullback3221100 Kazakhstan Almaty28/04/2012
8Keiji HiroseFly-half3101130 Hong Kong Tokyo08/05/2005
94 players on 30 points

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[37]

Most tries in a match

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1Daisuke OhataWing408000 Chinese Taipei Tokyo07/07/2002
2Toru KuriharaWing6061500 Chinese Taipei Tainan21/07/2002
Daisuke OhataWing306000 Hong Kong Tokyo08/05/2005
Yoshikazu FujitaWing306000 United Arab Emirates Fukuoka05/05/2012
5Terunori MasuhoWing255000 Chinese Taipei Singapore27/10/1998
Kosuke EndoWing255000 South Korea Daegu01/05/2010
Alisi TupuaileiCentre255000 Sri Lanka Colombo21/05/2011
Kentaro KodamaWing255000 South Korea Kanagawa30/04/2016
910 players on 4 tries

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[38]

Youngest players

# Player Pos Age Opposition Venue Date
1Yoshikazu FujitaWing18 years and 210 days United Arab Emirates Fukuoka05/05/2012
2Christian LoamanuWing18 years and 338 days Uruguay Montevideo16/04/2005
3Ayumu Goromaru(Fullback)19 years and 46 days Uruguay Montevideo16/04/2005
4Terunori MasuhoWing19 years and 95 days United States Chicago04/05/1991
5Faulua Makisi(Flanker)19 years and 122 days South Korea Incheon21/05/2016
6Seiji HiraoCentre19 years and 129 days NZ Universities Pukekohe30/05/1982
7Dogo Maeda(Fly-half)19 years and 152 days South Korea Kanagawa30/04/2016
8Kenji Shomen(Fly-half)19 years and 165 days South Korea Ulsan13/10/2002
9Masato FurukawaFlanker19 years and 167 days South Korea Incheon21/05/2016
10Yoshihito YoshidaWing19 years and 226 days Oxford University Tokyo01/10/1988

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[39]

Oldest players

# Player Pos Age Opposition Venue Date
1Luke ThompsonLock38 years and 187 days South Africa Tokyo20/10/2019
2Hitoshi OnoLock38 years and 50 days Scotland Tokyo 25/06/2016
3Wataru MurataScrum-half37 years and 145 days Ireland Tokyo19/06/2005
4Craig WingCentre35 years and 289 days United States Gloucester11/10/2015
5Hirotoki Onozawa(Wing)35 years and 71 days Wales Osaka08/06/2013
6Hayden Hopgood(Lock)35 years and 30 days Uruguay Tokyo29/08/2015
Satoshi NakataniProp35 years and 30 days Fiji Vannes26/11/2016
8Ross ThompsonNumber 834 years and 341 days Canada Vancouver21/06/1998
9Glen MarshFlanker34 years and 316 days Junior All Blacks Tokyo 24/06/2007
10Shoji Ito(Lock)34 years and 295 days Scotland Gloucester 23/09/2015

Last updated: Japan vs South Africa, 20 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[40]

See also


  1. "Brave Blossoms break into top ten". irb.com. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  2. "Japan pull off greatest shock in World Cup history". ESPN. 19 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  3. "Rugby World Cup: Japan's Shocking Upset Commands Attention". New York Times. 21 September 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  4. "Japan beat South Africa". Guardian. 19 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  5. "Joyous fans roar Japan to thrilling win and place in the knockouts". Rugby World Cup. 13 October 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  6. "Springboks 'push the right buttons' to end Japan's party". Rugby World Cup. 20 October 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  7. Galbraith, Mike (15 March 2014). "1866 and all that: the untold early history of rugby in Japan". Japan Times.
  8. Young, Keith (2015). "Japan". Complete Rugby Union Compendium. Edinburgh: Arena Sport. ISBN 978-1-909715-34-9.
  9. "Elissalde sacked as Japan coach".
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