COVID-19 Affecting Rugby in Japan
A spike in COVID-19 cases in Japan in January 2021 is affecting the sport with the State of Emergency announced for Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba & Saitama lasting until February 7. This may impact the Top League, Japan University Rugby Championship and the 100th Japanese Schools Rugby tournament.
Top League Rugby Japan 2021
Large events are expected to be capped at 5,000 or 50% of capacity, in Japan which could affect the professional rugby union season with the Top League due to start on January 16 2021.
The Japan Rugby Football Union, according to some reports, have said that any game in the round-robin stage of the 2021 Top League season that is called off due to the pandemic will be recorded as a draw with both sides getting 2 points.
The Japan Rugby Top League is considering to honour tickets already sold in advance for its matches with the JRFU expected to make an announcement on January 8th 2021.
On the 14th January 2021, the JRFU announced that “The Japan Rugby Top League has decided to postpone the opening date after changing the tournament format of the Japan Rugby Top League 2021 due to the influence of the new coronavirus infection.”
A number of players from several clubs had tested positive for coronavirus- as many as 62 COVID cases in 6 teams. Ticket sales were also suspended the following day after the announcement.
It is thought the Top League will kick off in February 2021 in a new format. Top League Chairman Osamu Ota told Kyodo News, “We cannot deny the possibility of there being more infections in February, but there are more teams with no infection. We feel it is not impossible to have zero cases by then and will communicate closely with teams as to why some are not doing as well (as others).”
You can read more about how the format of this season works here.
Japan University Rugby Championship 2021
The Japan University final is due to take place on January 11, 2021, at the National Stadium in Tokyo, with Waseda due to take on Tenri. The date is also a national Coming of Age Day holiday in Japan.
On January 8th, sources suggested the Japan Rugby Football Union would allow 17,000 spectators to attend the match because they are advance ticket holders.
The semi-finals of the 57th Japan University Rugby Championship took place on Saturday, 2 January 2021 at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo with Waseda University and Tenri University winning their respective playoff matches to reach the final.
Waseda University are the defending champions. at the National Stadium in Tokyo with a 1:15 PM kick-off.
- Waseda University 33-27 Teikyo University
- Tenri University 41-15 Meiji University
Japanese Schools Rugby 2021
Rich Freeman, who resides in Japan and covers rugby extensively in the media and in his own social platforms has been critical of the current ongoing school’s rugby championship in Japan.
It is the 100th edition of the tournament but one of the main issues has been regarding rules for drawn games and the forfeiture of games as well as some big mismatches.
Rugby in Asia 2021
- HKRU Domestic Rugby 2020-2021 Season Suspended.
- Japan will play British & Irish Lions in 2021.
- Tanner De Witt Kowloon RugbyFest 2021.
- Hong Kong Sevens 2021 postponed.