The Rugby Craze in Japan

There are many things to love about Japan. The Japanese have an amazing cuisine that people from all over the world are obsessed with. They are also people who value tradition and this is apparent in how they continue to practice beliefs and rituals from a much older time in their existence. With all the things going on with Japan, it is sometimes easily overlooked that this country isn’t just about the mental and spiritual excellence but also physical excellence which can be seen with how their Rugby team has succeeded in this extremely physical sport the past years.

The History of Japan’s Rugby Team as well as Information about Their Jerseys and the Japan Rugby Union

In the present times, the Japan national rugby union team, known as the Brave Blossoms, is considered to be the best rugby union team in all of Asia. This comes as no surprise because the sport of rugby has played in Japan since the year of 1866. This was the year that the Yokohama Football Club established a team to play the sport of rugby in Japan for the very first time. The team was made up of mainly service personnel and they played their games on the beautiful Garrison Parade Ground found in Yamata, Yokohama.

Nearly a decade later, foreigners like the British start to join in on the fun as they begin to stage games in Yokohama as well.  By this time though, the sport has grown quite a bit so they were also able to play rugby games at other treaty ports like Kobe. Despite this growth in popularity though, it wasn’t until the year of 1899 that the local Japanese participation in this sport became frequently mentioned in the history books. This happened because this was the year that students of the Keio University introduced the game to two of their professor who came from Cambridge University. This act gained so much attention that rugby became more actively participated in as well in other universities and schools.

When a country falls in love with a sport, they fall hard. This was evident when in the year of 1932, Japan’s passion for the sport of rugby led them to form the first national rugby team of Japan. To commemorate this momentous event in Japanese sports history, Japan set its first international match against the Canada national rugby union team on January 31st of that same year. In this tour, they shocked the Canadians as they took the first two matches against the Canadian national team with the score being 9 – 8 in the first game and 38 – 5 in the second game.

The Japanese rugby team continued to hone their skills as they matched up with the different rugby teams from all over the globe. They played against and beat the Junior All Blacks in the year of 1968 as redemption for losing their first four matches in that same tournament in New Zealand. They also played against the England team on the 29th of September in the year of 1971 but they lost this close match with a score of 3 – 6. They lost a lot of matches against the teams of Wales, England, and France but that didn’t stop them from improving and on the 2nd of October in the year of 1983, their hard work showed signs of effect as they gave Wales a run for their money as they lost this intensely close match by only 5 points.

They continued to work hard to improve even more and in the year of 1989, they accomplished a victory that gratified all the work the team has been putting into the sport that they love as they defeated an uncapped Scotland team for the first time. What made this victory sweeter was the fact that it happened in Japan’s home court which was the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium. The super team that was able to do this proved themselves again in the year of 1991 as they also defeated the Zimbabwe team in the RWC of that year.

They have become the most decorated Asian rugby team because of how they have dominated the scene of Asian rugby. Out of the 28 Asian Rugby Championships, Japan has successfully taken home the trophy 23 times. Their winning streak is still active as of the Asian Rugby Championship of 2015 because they have not lost since the year of 2004. As of June 2017,  Japan is ranked 11th in the World Rugby Rankings as it falls behind to the countries of New Zealand, England, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, Scotland, Wales, France, Fiji, and Argentina.

The jerseys that they wore for the first time in the 1960’s was kept in action until the year of 2002. This kit or jersey had two versions. A red and white striped collared shirt with white shorts and white socks with a hint of red became their home jersey. Their away jersey was a plain black collared shirt with white shorts and black long socks with a hint of white. It was a very good look for a rugby kit which is why it is understandable that it was used for over 40 years before the design was changed in the year of 2003.

The design of their 2003 jersey which lasted until the year of 2006 was essential decorated with the same colors and patterns but with slight differences as the colors of red and black became more prominent in both home and away jerseys. This design did not last long as some more details were added to their jersey in the year of 2007. Despite all these changes in their jersey, the Japanese rugby team’s uniform remains to be one of the more stylish ones you can find I tournaments like the World Cup or even in the Asian Rugby Championship.

Japan’s Historical Upset in the 2015 Rugby World Cup


Japan’s rugby team has been participating in the World Cup since it was founded in 1987. They have not missed an appearance since the team started a career in the World Cup and in the recent years, they have shown even more growth with regards to their skills and strategies. It was mentioned earlier that their first time in a World Cup was when they beat Zimbabwe in the RWC of 1991. That was their sole victory in the Pool Stage of the tournament until the year of 2015.

In September of 2015, during the World Cup, Japan was in a position to do something amazing. They were able to surprise South Africa with a clutch play by Karne Hesketh to win the game for Japan with the score of 34 – 32. This game was their opener for the 2015 World Cup and this exciting win gave them enough momentum to take their second and third wins at the expense of Samoa and USA, respectively. They swept the pool stage games but unfortunately, they took a heavy loss to Scotland in the group stage of the cup which led them to an early exit after the invigorating run they had in the pool games.

This loss because one of the most talked about things in the rugby world for a while because it was the first time a team won all three pool games but still get eliminated at the group stage. Although this loss was a devastating blow to them, it might have set up the perfect stage for Japan to show their resolve in the upcoming World Cup in 2019 because this World Cup will be held in Japan itself so they have the full support of everybody there. They will be motivated by their fans and focused by their desire to avenge their upset from the most recent World Cup.

All About Japan’s Rugby League Fixtures, Schedules, and Tickets to the World Cup

You can easily update yourself with the latest fixtures and game schedules of rugby leagues and the teams like the Brave Blossoms and the Japan Sevens through the official rugby website of Japan. Once you are on this site, you can see all their upcoming games that go as far as November this year. You will notice when you look at the Brave Blossoms schedule that their games are usually set almost every Saturday with breaks happening once every 3 consecutive game days.

The nearest upcoming match for the Brave Blossoms is set to happen on October 28, 2017, and it will be against the World XV team. After that, there will be a match against Australia on the 4th of November this year as well. The tickets for these two matches may still be bought online so if you are interested in watching Japan play against these teams, you can purchase a ticket through their website as well. After the game on November 4, there will be a break and games will resume on November 19, 2017, when the French Tour begins. Their first opponent for this tour is Tonga and the second team they will play on the succeeding Saturday, which is November 26, will be the team of France.

Considering the history and the continuous growth of the sport of rugby in Japan, it is apparent that their passion is genuine. The Japanese may not be as physically gifted compared to the athletes of the other nations but they still find a way to get those wins and show the world that anything you want can be attained through the proper mindset and hard work. They are a great team to watch and another great thing about it is that if you are unable to travel to watch the rugby games live, you can easily pay for a channel or stream the games online to watch and support your beloved rugby team.