2023-24 Japan Rugby League One Season Welcomes International Talent
The 2023-24 Japan Rugby League One season gets underway on December 9, 2023, and this third season welcomes a range of international talent and local players.
In total, twenty-five foreign players who represented their countries at the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France will feature this season in the JRLO. Thirteen of these were involved in the RWC 2023 final between the Springboks and the All Blacks.
All Blacks – 2023-24 Japan Rugby League One Season
Among the playing talent joining the JRLO are some of the most experienced All Black players who are still active as professional players. The latest addition is NZ captain Sam Cane who has opted for a sabbatical to join Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath.
His signing means that five of the 14 most capped All Blacks in history will be active in Japan this coming season:
- Aaron Smith (125 tests, Toyota Verblitz)*
- Beauden Barrett (123 tests, Toyota Verblitz)*
- Brodie Retallick (109 tests, Kobelco Kobe Steelers)*
- Dane Coles (90 tests Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay)
- Sam Cane ( Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath)*
*Four of them played the 2023 Rugby World Cup final loss against the Springboks.
Other notable All Blacks playing in Japan will beRichie Mo’unga and Shannon Frizell who will both be at Toshiba Brave Lupus.
Springboks in JRLO
From South Africa, two-time Rugby World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe (Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath) is one of the most exciting additions to the JRLO this year.
Unfortunately, Malcolm Marx’s injury in France means he won’t be involved this season for Kubota Spears but he is scheduled to return before his contract expires in May 2025.
Kwagga Smith returns to the Shizuoka Blue Revs, as do Franco Mostert (Mie Honda Heat), Pieter Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Faf de Klerk (Yokohama, Canon Eagles), Damien de Allende (Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights), and Jesse Kriel (Yokohama Canon Eagles) who were all winners ar RWC 2023.
Other International Signings – JRLO 2023-2024
Other key international signings see Tonga’s Charles Piutau (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Samoa’s Lima Sopoaga (Shimizu Corporation Koto Blue Sharks), and the Wales duo of Liam Williams (Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay) and Gareth Anscombe (Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath) who join the fray this season.
Piers Francis is also set to join Kurita Water Gush, reported Rugby News Japan.
International Coaching Talent in JRLO
Former Wallaby coach Dave Rennie is at the helm at the Kobelco Kobe Steelers and his side open the JRLO season, playing former Italy coach Kieran Crowley’s Mie Honda Heat.
Six Nations-winning former Wales coach Wayne Pivac is not also in charge at NEC Green Rockets.
Japanese Rugby News
- RWC 2023 Final – The JRLO Connection.
- New Pacific Nations Cup.
- Japan Hosts Asian Sevens Rugby Qualifiers For Paris 2024 Olympics.
- WXV 2023 Wrap Up.