The final of Japan Rugby Championship was held in January 29 2017, the Suntory Sungoliath played against the Panasonic Wild Knights at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo. The Sungoliath were 15 wins and no loss in the Japan Rugby Top League, they won the championship of 16/17 Top League. In the Semifinal the Sungoliath fought hard at Teikyo University, the score was tied at the end of the first half 21 to 21. Finally the Sungoliath showed their intention and beat Teikyo University 54 to 29.
The Wild Knights were the 3rd place at 16/17 Top League. In the Semi-final, they beat the Yamaha Jubilo that were the 2nd place in the Top League, 36 to 24. The Sungoliath played against the Wild Knights in a matchday4 of 16/17 Top League and won 45 to 15 at that time.
In the Wild Knights, Berrick Barnes (SO) was missed by an injury. So Takuya Yamasawa who is the first college student Top League player, was the stating member following the Semifinal. And in the Sungoliath, the starting lineup were same as the Semifinal. So the starting members of both teams are as follows;
☆：Japan national rugby union player of 2016 Autumn Internationals
★：the Sunwolves’s player of 2017 Super Rugby
The Suntory Sungoliath ■PR: Shintaro Ishihara, Genki Sudo ■HO: Yusuke Aoki ■LO: Joe Wheeler, Shinya Makabe (★) ■FL: Tui Hendrik, George Smith ■No.8: Naoki Ozawa ■SH: Yutaka Nagare (Cap) ■SO: Kosei Ono ■WTB: Shota Emi, Takaaki Nakazuru (★) ■CTB: Derek Carpenter (★), Daishi Murata ■FB: Kotaro Matsushima (☆★)
The Panasonic Wild Knights ■PR: Keita Inagaki (★), Shohei Hirano ■HO: Shota horie (☆★) ■LO: Kotaro Yatabe (☆), Daniel Heenan ■FL: Tadasuke Nishihara, Shunsuke Nunomaki (Cap, ☆★) ■No.8: David Pocock ■SH: Fumiaki Tanaka (☆★) ■SO: Takuya Yamasawa ■WTB: Kenki Fukuoka (☆★), Akihito Yamada (☆) ■CTB: Yasuki Hayashi, Richard Buckman ■FB: Yasutaka Sasakura (☆★)
There were about 20,000 spectators in the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium. At the beginning of the first half, both teams kicked each other and attacked their opponent’s encampment. In the 16th minute of the first half, Ono scored a penalty goal and the Sungoliah scored the first. But in the 18th minute, Yamasawa also scored a penalty goal and the Wild Knights tied the score 3 to 3. In the 29th minute, Sasakura was replaced by an injury and Keisuke Moriya came off the bench. But both teams failed the penalty goal, the first half ended with equal ties.
In the second half, Ono got a penalty goal in the 48th minute and the Sungoliath took the lead in score of 6 to 3. Ono got a pnalty goal again, the score was 9 to 3 in the 54th minute. Immediately thereafter, Heenan blocked Nagare’s kick and score a try. Yamasawa also got a conversion kick, the Wild Knights reversed the Sungoliath 10 to 9. But in the 60th minute, Ono scored a penalty goal and the Sungoliah reversed again 12 to 10. He scored a penalty goal again in the 65th minute, finally the Sungoliath beat the Wild Knights 15 to 10.
The Sungoliath win the Japan Rugby championship for the first time in the last 4 years. It is the winning of 7th time for them. In addition, the Sungoliath win undefeated the victory with the 16/17 Top League. Both teams were good at defense, but the Wild Knights had a lot of foul play in their encampment. So the Sungoliath could get 5 penalty goals.
The Sungoliath have finished all the dates, but the Wild Knights will participate in the Brisbane Global Tens. The Brisbane Global Tens is the tournament of Rugby tens, it will be hold at Brisbane in February 11 and 12. The 10 Super Rugby teams from Australia and New Zealand will take part in this tournament with the Wild Knights.
This youtube’s video is the match of the Sungoliath vs. the Wild Knights in a matchday4 of 16/17 Top League. Both teams will compete for the championship next season of Top League.