Published on: 17th September 2015

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Team Profile

World Ranking: 13 (Should be #1)

Odds of Winning: 2000/1

Road To Qualification:

The 2019 Host Nation qualified for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, as Asia 1, by winning the 2015 Asian Five Nations.

Recent Results

Georgia 10 – 13 Japan

Japan 40 – 0 Uruguay

Japan 30 – 8 Uruguay

Japan 20 – 45 World XV

World Cup Pool Games:

Date Time Team v Team Stadium
Saturday, 19 September 15 16:45 South Africa v Japan Brighton Community Stadium
Wednesday, 23 September 15 14:30 Scotland v Japan Kingsholm, Gloucester
Saturday, 3 October 15 14:30 Samoa v Japan Stadium mk, Milton Keynes
Sunday, 11 October 15 20:00 USA v Japan Kingsholm


  • Strong scrum – Dramatics improvement since the appointment of scrum coach Marc dal Maso, former France hooker.
  • Secretly a team of super saijans



  • Lack the size and strength of most Tier 1 and 2 teams

Key Players

  • Michael Leitch
  • Fumiaki Tanaka

  • Ayumu Goromaru

  • Hendrik Tui

  • Hitoshi Ono


Front Row

Shota Horie (Panasonic Wild Knights)
Takeshi Kizu (Kobelco Steelers)
Hiroki Yuhara (Toshiba Brave Lupus)
Kensuke Hatakeyama (Suntory Sungoliath)
Keita Inagaki (Panasonic Wild Knights)
Masataka Mikami (Toshiba Brave Lupus)
Hiroshi Yamashita (Kobelco Steelers)


Shoji Ito (Kobelco Steelers)
Shinya Makabe (Suntory Sungoliath)
Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba Brave Lupus)
Luke Thompson (Kintetsu Liners)

Back Row

Michael Broadhurst (Ricoh Black Rams)
Justin Ives (Canon Eagles)
Michael Leitch, Captain (Chiefs)
Hendrik Tui (Queensland Reds)
Ryu Holani (Panasonic Wild Knights)
Amanaki Lelei Mafi (NTT Shining Arcs)


Atsushi Hiwasa (Suntory Sungoliath)
Fumiaki Tanaka (Highlanders)


Harumichi Tatekawa (Kubota Spears)
Kosei Ono Suntory (Sungoliath)


Kotaro Matsushima (Suntory Sungoliath)
Male Sa’u (Yamaha Júbilo)
Yu Tamura (NEC Green Rockets)
Craig Wing (Kobelco Steelers)

Back 3

Yoshikazu Fujita (Waseda University)
Kenki Fukuoka (Tsukuba University)
Karne Hesketh (Munakata Sanix Blues)
Toshiaki Hirose (Toshiba Brave Lupus)
Akihito Yamada (Panasonic Wild Knights)
Ayumu Goromaru (Yamaha Júbilo)

Likely Starting XV:


Japan are awesome, totes going to come second in the group.

Experienced coach Eddie Jones has helped galvinise the Japanese team, breaking into the Top10 for the first time under his guidance.

Japanese work rate and commitment is legendary and with a Super Rugby Franchise around the corner truly great things should be coming out of Asia very shortly. I think this World Cup is a little bit to early for anything major to occur but the future of Japanese rugby looks bright and beautiful.

Set piece, specifically scrum, can bump ugly’s with the best of them – they’ve come on leaps and bounds recently and were even pushing the All Blacks scrum backwards a few years ago.

The Japanese League is no longer just a place for Tier 1 players to earn a crust at the end of their careers – in the last 5 years it’s become far more competitive than it used to be.

Plus they always look great, they have one of the best kits in Test rugby.

Back in 2013 they beat Wales and broke IRB Top 10 for the first time in their history, however since then their form has dipped. They finished bottom of the Pacific Nations Cup, and will be looking to rectify that at the World Cup.

They will realistically be looking to challenge for 3rd place, and potentially causing an upset against Samoa or Scotland. However if one of the ‘bigger’ teams decides to rest players against Japan, it could prove costly.



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