Japan and the Autumn Internationals

Published 17th November 2017
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Japan National Rugby Union Team

Like a lot of our teams, Japan too has a nickname. The Brave Blossoms. Rugby has been played in Japan since 1866, with universities creating teams by the turn of the 20th century. Japan recorded their first victory in 1932 against Canada and are known as the strongest Rugby union power in Asia.

Japan have been in all 6 of the World Cups. Although the Brave Blossoms are a second-tier team they have knocked a few teams off their high pedestals. In 1971 they narrowly lost to England 6-3! They closest they have ever come to beating the English. In 1989 Japan recorded their first victory against Scotland. Japan then beat Wales in 2003 with a thumping 23-8 score line! But these almost victories and victories are nothing compared to their 2015 win. Arguably the biggest upset in Rugby Union. Japan beat the Springboks 34-32… That’s right, the two-time champions South Africa…. Impressed? You can thank Eddie Jones the coach for bringing the team together to bring us that magical match. On a sour note though, Japan became the first ever team to win 3 out of 4 games in the pool stage but fail to progress to the knock out stage. This is due to the unfortunate thrashing given to them by Scotland.

The Brave Blossom’s are currently in 11th place in the IRB rankings, between Argentina and Georgia. The lowest the Brave Blossoms have been in 20th and that was a decade ago, since then they have hit 9th spot! Japan have won 146 out of the 339 games they have played, but a lot of those wins have been against second and third tier teams.


The Anthem

Kimigayo is based on a waka poem written in the Heian Period (794-1185), making the lyrics some of the world’s oldest national anthems. During the Empire of Japan, the Kimigayo was the national anthem. Since it became a de facto anthem and was reinstated in 1999 as the official anthem once more.



Kimigayo wa
Chiyo ni yachiyo ni
Sazare-ishi no
Iwao to narite
Koke no musu made


English translation

May your reign
Continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations,
Until the pebbles
Grow into boulders
Lush with moss


This is the Poetic English:

Thousands of years of happy reign be thine;
Rule on, my lord, until what are pebbles now
By ages united to mighty rocks shall grow
Whose venerable sides the moss doth line.



The Brave Blossoms started their autumn internationals on the 4th November at home to Australia where they lost 30-63. They now travel to France to face Les Bleus on the 25th. They have never beaten the French, could they finish their year on a high note? Let’s see!

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