Pre-season match report of Sunwolves vs. Top League Allstars

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2017 season of Super Rugby will begin 1 week later, Japan Rugby Dream Match 2017 was held in the Mikuni World Stadium Kitakyusyu at Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. This was the pre-season match for the Sunwolves of Japan Super Rugby team, the Sunwolves played against the All Star team of Japan Top League. Then the Mikuni World Stadium Kitakyusyu is home ground of J-League Giravanz Kitakyushu, this match was the opening of a new stadium.

The squad of Sunwolves was announced on December 2016, 51 players had been a training camp in Japan from February 1. But because of injury etc, Keita Inagaki (PR), Shinya Makabe (LO), Kotaro Matsushima (FB) , Yu Tamura (SO) and Shunsuke Nunomaki (FL) broke away from the training camp so they didn’t take part in this match. And Fumiaki Tanaka (SH) and Harumichi Tatekawa (CTB) were the reserve members.

The Top League Allstars were the team consisting of 15 Top League players and some Sunwolves players (In order to make many players participate). Akihito Yamada of the Panasonic Wild Knights was a captain, and Jamie Joseph who is the head coach of Japan Rugby Union team directed in this match. Then in order to have fans recognize player’s name and number, the Top League Allstars set a jersey number for each player on a trial basis in this match. The players can choose their favorite jersey number from 0 to 99, there is no league which this is done even in the world.

There were over 11,000 spectators in the Mikuni World Stadium Kitakyusyu. The starting members of both teams are as follows;
☆:Japan national rugby union player of 2016 Autumn Internationals
★:the Sunwolves player of 2016 Super Rugby

Sunwolves ■PR: Masataka Mikami (☆★), Heiichiro Ito (☆) ■HO: Shota horie (☆★) ■LO: Liaki Moli (★), Naohiro Kotaki (★) ■FL: Willem Britz, Shokei Kin (★) ■No.8: Edward Quirk (★) ■SH: Kaito Shigeno (★) ■SO: Hayden Cripps ■WTB: Takaaki Nakazuru, Teruya Goto ■CTB: Timothy Lafaele (☆), Tupou William ■FB: Riaan Viljoen (★)

Top League All Stars (This font is 2017 Sunwolves player) ■PR: Kohei Asahori, Yasuo Yamaji (☆) ■HO: Yusuke Niwai ■LO: Yuya Ohto, Kotaro Yatabe (☆) ■FL: Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Yuhimaru Mimura (☆) ■No,8: Rahboni Warren Vosayaco ■SH: Keisuke Uchida (☆) ■SO: Hikaru Tamura ■WTB: Karne Hesketh (☆), Akihito Yamada (☆★) ■CTB: Derek Carpenter (★), Andre Taylor ■FB: Jamie Jerry Taulagi

In the 8th minute of the first half, Cripps got a penalty goal and the Sunwolves scored the first. But in the 18th minute, Yamada scored a try so the Top League All Stars reversed Sunwolves 5 to 3. After 2 minute, Taylor scored a try and Tamura got a conversion kick, the Top League All Stars took the lead in score of 12 to 3. In the 30th minute, Lafaele scored a try and Cripps got a conversion kick, the score was 12 to 10. After that, Quirk scored a try and Cripps got a conversion kick again, the Sunwolves reversed 17 to 12.

In the second half, the match reached a stalemate for a while. Lafaele’s penalty kick slightly left the goal post in the 63th minute, both teams were unable to score points. So the Sunwolves changed the players, Tanaka and Tatekawa came off the bench. Then in the 75th minute, Tanaka scored a try and Lafaele got a conversion kick, the Sunwolves took the lead in score of 24 to 12. Finally the Sunwolves beat the Top League All Stars 24 to 12.

This youtube’s video is the movie of Japan Rugby Dream Match 2017. The Sunwolves play against the Hurricanes at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Japan on February 25.