"Halfway there"

to the Rugby World Cup France, Japan lost to Argentina in the final match of the first round, missing out on a second consecutive playoff. Although they played well against strong opponents, they fell one step short of victory. The match showed where Japan rugby is today.
In the second half of the article, we asked Mr. Hitoshi Ohno, a former Japan national team and the most caps in history,

to explain the key points of the match and the challenges for the Japan national team in the future.

table of contents

  • We couldn't hold back in defence Japan

  • "Lineout maul" and "high ball" also have a physical difference

  • Even in the midst of the defeat, the light "The performance of the first team"

  • Japan's current location revealed

  • notice

    《[Explanation] Former Japan representative Hitoshi Ohno Challenges of the tournament and the future》

Open Table of Contents

table of contents

table of contents

  • We couldn't hold back in defence Japan

  • "Lineout maul" and "high ball" also have a physical difference

  • Even in the midst of the defeat, the light "The performance of the first team"

  • Japan's current location revealed

  • notice

    《[Explanation] Former Japan representative Hitoshi Ohno Challenges of the tournament and the future》

【Click here for details】Japan Failed to advance to the final tournament for the second consecutive tournament

We couldn't hold back in defence Japan

Captain Kazuki Himeno described it as a "battle to the death."

The focus was on how far we could go against Argentina, who were physically strong, but as a result, we couldn't hold up defensively.

["Distance forward" after collision]
Argentina: 209 meters ▽ Japan: 346 meters

The data showed that Japan were holding on in desperate defence while allowing Argentina to advance.

【Japan National Team Tackle Mistakes by Starting Members】
Forwards: 8 times
Bucks: 16 times

Argentina First try

The Bucks' tackle mistakes were also conspicuous, and the opponents' first try was directly linked to the Bucks' tackle mistakes.

Standoff MATSUDA Rikiya:
"I couldn't stop the opponent's good runners, and I felt that one tackle mistake can lead to a goal."

In addition, there were many scenes where they lost to the pressure of the opponent even in the battle for the ball in close quarters, and there were times when they were delayed in getting the ball out of the huddle, which is what Japan is good at.

Scrum-half SAITO Naoto
: "We were unable to showcase our strengths in the crowd"

Michael Leach
: "Argentina were really physically strong, and there is a difference."

"Lineout maul" and "high ball" also have a physical difference

The "physical difference" was also evident in the mauls from the lineouts that we were wary of and the handling of high balls.

Argentina have repeatedly attacked from midfield, forming mauls and pushing the ball, and then developing the ball with runners with running ability.

Leach said, "It was as expected," but there were situations where he couldn't cope even if he had expected it.

Also, as expected, he used high punts that kicked high everywhere, but Japan there were many scenes where he lost the competition in the air and could not secure the ball.

On the other hand, in the 7th minute of the first half when the score was 7-28, the opponent caught a high ball that Japan kicked from his own half, and from there, he attacked at once and scored a try.

It was an impressive scene where the opponent did the shape that Japan wanted to do.

Before the match, the rugby data company's AI predicted that Japan would win 17.6%. The Japan players entered this match prepared to overturn their reputation, but they succumbed to Argentina's overwhelming physical strength.

Even in the midst of the defeat, the light "The performance of the first team"

On the other hand, even in the defeat, there was also a light that will lead to the future of the Japan national team.
This is the performance of the team that participated in the World Cup for the first time.

Saito Naoto scored a try

Scrum-half SAITO Naoto started two consecutive matches against Samoa due to an injury to Ryudai. He produced a try with quick passing, and scored a try himself with his good support.

Siosaia Fifita rushing

In addition, 24-year-old Siosaia Fifita, who made his first appearance and first start of the match, made a sharp breakthrough that lived up to the expectations of head coach Jamie Joseph.

Amato Fakatava scored three tries in this tournament

Lock Amato Fakatava, who returned from injury just before the World Cup, scored his third try of the tournament with his world-class breakthrough and individual skills.

: "I think I did my best to contribute to the team"

: "The generation that can aim for four years from now must pass on their experience to the next generation, and I want to take on that part."

Japan's current location revealed

As head coach Jamie Joseph said, "They gave it their all," and Japan gave it their all and lost.

(Left) Kazuki Himeno, Captain

Captain HIMENO Kazuki also acknowledged the defeat, saying, "Argentina outplayed us."

"I've gotten stronger, but I'm one step short of reaching the final eight"

This is where Japan is now.

What is required of Japan in the future is the ability to beat strong opponents.

Last year, they faced strong teams such as France and New Zealand, and England and Argentina at the World Cup, and although they fought evenly until the middle of the match, they continued to struggle to win in the closing stages.

Michael Leach (right)

Michael Leach calmly analyzed the current situation.

Michael Leach
: "Japan have the ability to play well until the 60th minute, but the barrier is how to control the last 20 minutes."

(left) Jamie Joseph HC

Following the tournament, head coach Jamie Joseph stepped down and the next head coach will be at the helm of the tournament, who is currently in the process of being selected.

In addition to the physical physicality of each player, which was an issue in this tournament, there are many issues to be addressed in order to improve the ability to win, such as the player base and the experience points that will be the source of game control.

The battle for Japan, which has likened the World Cup to the ascent of Mount Everest, is over.

Himeno looked forward with frustration, saying, "Japan rugby can still become stronger."

"Nice game", "drop goal" and other SNS trends

Click here for detailed data Japan× Argentina

【Video】Highlights of all 48 matches

  • notice

《[Explanation] Former Japan representative Hitoshi Ohno Challenges of the tournament and the future》

We asked Mr. Hitoshi Ohno, a former Japan national team player who has the most caps in history, who will be commentating on the match for NHK, about the benefits and challenges of this tournament, as well as the future of the Japan national team.

Hitoshi Ohno (45 years old from Fukushima Prefecture) Raised while working in a dairy farming family,
he moves around and plays hot and intense. He played baseball until high school, and after entering the mechanical engineering department of the Faculty of Engineering at Japan University, he was invited by a senior member of the rugby club to observe practice. Joining the Fukushima selection team, which aims to become a national sports team, connected with him, and by participating in Toshiba's training, he paved the way for the Japan national team in earnest. During his playing days, he was a lock with the most "98" caps in the history of the Japan national team.

< career>
Seiryo Information High School (Fukushima) →Japan University Faculty of Engineering → Toshiba

<Japan national team>
▽ Caps: 98 (Japan national team, the most in history) ▽ Participated in three consecutive World Cups in 2007, 2011,
and 2015

Q.What are your thoughts on the match?

Former Japan representative Hitoshi
Ohno: "Japan also put in a great enough performance, but Argentina were good at scoring tries, their speed and physicality."

Q.Were there some set-pieces that were more than equal?

"Whether it was a scrum in the first half or a ruck from a lineout, we went Japan each other, but I think it's frustrating that we couldn't do it all 80 minutes.

Q.Japan made early changes to the first row of the Scrum. Is there a problem with layer thickness?

"We can put together an 80-minute scrum that doesn't change no matter who comes out, and I felt that if we don't reach that level, it will be difficult to beat the best teams in the world and reach the last eight."

Q.Did you lose another goal in the second half?

"Throughout this tournament, as we did against England and Samoa, we played the last 20 minutes.

Q.What is required to not lose in the last 20 minutes?

"We need to improve each and every one of us, but we need to know how we will play as a team. It's important to share that as a team once again."

Q.What are the issues with contact points?

"Rugby is a contact sport, and you can't escape from contact points, so it's important to strengthen that, and of course we need to strengthen each and every one of us as a team, but as a team, we will overcome contact points throughout the 1 minutes. That's the important part."

Q.Did you deal with highballs as an issue?

"The accuracy of the kicker (kicking the high punt), the accuracy of the catcher. In terms of defence, how do we not let the opponent make a clean catch? I felt that we needed to improve that. It's a catching skill (to close the height gap), isn't it? Instead of going to the auction alone, he works with his fellow members and responds to the highball. It's also important to prepare that strategy, such as the placement of players to stop the player even if the high ball is caught cleanly."

Q.What is this tournament in France for Japan?

"Unfortunately, we couldn't make it to the final tournament and ended up with a 2-2 record, but we managed to keep it close to England and Argentina, who lost to us. It gave me a sense of anticipation that we could win. The players were able to feel frustrated after that match, which was a big thing for them to strengthen the Japan National Team in the future. I think the Japan children who watched today's match felt really good. In that sense, this game, this World Cup, is important for Japan rugby".

Q.Will the young players lead the Japan national team in the future?

"Winning the World Cup is going to make it a reality and keep training. When I was an active player, when I was a member of the Japan national team, the atmosphere was such that people laughed when I mentioned the word "victory". I want the current players, especially the younger ones, to keep saying that and keep imagining that the Japan national team will win the championship in their training."

Q.What is the achievement of head coach Jamie Joseph?

"He left behind something tremendous, I think there was a lot of pressure to replace the previous head coach Eddie Jones, but he put the pressure off and put on top of that and built a team that really feels like winning the championship in France is a reality. He left a big legacy for Japan rugby. I want him to be succeeded by someone who can make the championship a reality."

Q.How can each individual improve their abilities for the next four years?

Former Japan national team Hitoshi
Ohno: "It is important to experience high-level matches at an international level constantly. Heading into the 2019 tournament, the Sunwolves were there. The players' experience of Super Rugby matches of similar intensity to Test matches was a major factor in reaching the last eight. This time, there has been a corona disaster for the past four years, so I think it was difficult to strengthen in that area. I think one way is to move into an environment where we can play high-level test matches. Japan was also selected for the High Performance Union, so I think the next four years will be a different experience."

【Click here for details】Individual and team rankings are

【NHK Special Website】Rugby World Cup 2023