Rugby League One has started this season.

After the league match and the semi-finals of the playoff tournament, the final will finally be held at the National Stadium on the 29th of this month.

It is Suntory and Panasonic that compete for the top.

Rivals who have been competing since the top league era also clashed in the top league finals last season.

What are the characteristics of each and the whereabouts of the hottest battle?

Former Japan national team Kenki Fukuoka, who played for Panasonic until last year, looked out.

"Offensive Suntory" vs. "Defensive Panasonic"

"Rugby League One" started in January as a new league to replace the top league.

The final, in which the first champion was decided, was the same meeting between Suntory and Panasonic as last year's top league final.

Former Japan national team Kenki Fukuoka contributed to Japan's first advance to the Top 8 at the 2019 Rugby World Cup as a wing.

He played for five seasons at Panasonic until last year and contributed to the team's victory by marking 14 tries last season.

He retired from active duty only last season and is now aspiring to be a doctor at the medical school of the university.

First, we asked about the characteristics of each team, Suntory and Panasonic, who advanced to the final.

Kenki Fukuoka

"Simply put, it's an easy-to-understand composition of" offensive Suntory "vs." defensive Panasonic. "

If it becomes a competition for points, Suntory will have an advantage, and conversely, if it becomes a low score game, Panasonic will have an advantage. "


Suntory passed the league match with 12 teams in 1st place.

It boasts the overwhelming offensive power with the top score and number of tries (including the result of the canceled game).

The attack centered on Damian McKenzie, who has a track record in the New Zealand national rugby, All Blacks, made it to the finals.

Mackenzie is also attracting attention as a "smiling nobleman" because of his facial expression before kicking.

Kenki Fukuoka

"The number of tries is the same, and you can attack from anywhere. I think Suntory is a team with such strengths. For this year, Mackenzie was in the 15th (full back), so It is now possible to use attacks with more variations. Not only simple attacks, but also No. 9 (scrum-half) Ryu players and Saito players skillfully manage the area, and they are also strong in the vertical direction such as captain Nakamura. There are players, and there are really many variations of attacks. I think the team is armed with an attack that can score points from anywhere. "


Panasonic analyzes that defense is its greatest strength.

We have a large number of players who have a track record in the Japanese national team, such as "The Man Who Doesn't Laugh", Keita Inagaki and Shota Horie, and won all the league games except for the games that were canceled due to the influence of Corona.

In the league match in February, he beat Suntory 34-17.

Kenki Fukuoka

"The most distinctive feature is that the team is centered on the defense. There are fewer goals than other teams, and the turnover from the defense, the ball is recovered and the ball is cut off at once at the counter. It has a shape. Also, the members who appear in the second half are the players who are selected as the representative of Japan, and the players who are doing the top class in overseas, the strength of the second half that makes the best use of the thickness of the layer. That's the strength because everyone can really fight at the same level. "

What are the key players for both teams?

Who will be the key player to win or lose?

Mr. Fukuoka named Mackenzie, who was also the top scorer in League One at Suntory, and Takuya Yamasawa, who is expected to play an active role as a command tower at Panasonic, as key players.


About Mackenzie (Suntory)

"He is a player who has everything that can be covered except for speed, sharpness, technique and power, and I think that he has a lot of drawers. There are many variations of attacks, so I can not run freely That is very important for Panasonic. "


Regarding Yamazawa (Panasonic),

"It is difficult for Panasonic to defend against Suntory's attack all the time. Suntory is a team with such offensive power, so we will manage the area. In that sense, I think Yamasawa will be one key man. In that sense, Yamasawa has the decision of where to use the kick well, where to keep the ball, and whether to attack. I think there is a lot of weight in the judgment of the players. "


Is the kick of two people also a point of the game?

"Unlike the league games so far, there is no need to stick to the number of tries, so if you win even one point at the end, you will win. In that sense, it is really one point. , I think that the success rate of the goal kick is a big factor to decide the victory or defeat because there is a weight of 1 point. Also pay attention to the key man, Yamazawa and Mackenzie mentioned earlier, and the accuracy of their kicks. "

The expected game development

The final kicked off at 3:00 pm on May 29th.

Fukuoka-san thinks it will be a match that you can't take your eyes off until the end.

Kenki Fukuoka

"If it goes as expected, Suntory will probably attack in the first half and Panasonic will defend it firmly. If Suntory leads the second half and Panasonic chases after the second half, I don't know which one will win. Panasonic is said to be a strong team in the second half. It's two teams that have been competing for the champion all the time, so keep an eye on the last moment. I think it will be a match like this. "