Japan Sakura Fifteen Look To Close Out Taiyo Seimei Japan Rugby Challenge Series 2023 Against Fiji
Following the 29-24 win last weekend against Fiji in the two-match Taiyo Seimei Japan Rugby Challenge Series 2023, the Japan Sakura Fifteen will look to close out the series on Saturday, 16 September at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium.
Japan will play Fijiana for the third time in history with the home team never having lost to the Pacific islanders, leading the head-to-head 3-0.
Even though the Sakura Fifteen were again victorious last weekend with the first-ever match at the JAPAN BASE, Fijiana came back strong after the home team had been leading 19-0 inside the opening half hour with tries from Seina Saito, Sachiko Kato, and Kanako Kobayashi.
Japan’s Head Coach Lesley McKenzie has named openside-flanker, Iroha Nagata, as captain once again, as she looks to continue the four straight wins since taking over the captaincy against Kazakhstan, in Almaty back in May when Japan won the Asia Rugby 2023 Championship.
Six new members come into the matchday 23 as the squad builds up to the WXV in South Africa in October 2023, and among the new squad members for the second match against Fiji is uncapped lock Jennifer Nduka (reserves).
The starting and replacement front rows remain unchanged from last week (Sachiko Kato and Yuka Sadaka are at loosehead and tighthead respectively), while Kotomi Taniguchi is the starting hooker. Among the reserve props are Hinata Komaki and Nijiho Nagata.
For the locks, Mio Nishimura starts this weekend and Masami Kawamura will win her third Japan cap. The back-row remains unchanged with Seina Saito at blindside (Japan’s most capped player), Ayano Nagai at number-eight and Captain Nagata at number-seven.
Megumi Abe moves starts at half-back after playing off the bench last weekend, partnering with flyhalf Ayasa Otsuka. as a backup flyhalf Minori Yamamoto (contracted in the Premier 15s with English side Worcester Warriors) is in the reserves. It will be Yamamoto’s first match for Sakura 15s since playing against Italy in the RWC 2021.
The centre partnership sees Kanako Kobayashi at inside centre with Haruka Hirotsu at the outside centre, the latter only earning her second cap
Komachi Imakugi joins the starting team on the left wing, while Misaki Matsumura, who scored a brace of tries on debut last weekend (and is only 18 years old), moves from the left to the right wing. Sora Nishimura remains as the starting fullback.
Fiji have made a number of changes from the first test with four players coming into the forward pack, while Setaita Railumu and Jennifer Ravutia are the new half-back pairing this weekend in one of five changes to the Fijiana backline. Atelaite Buna is set for her test debut on the left wing.
Natarsha Ganley (New Zealand) will make her international debut as a referee for the second in Tokyo on 16 September between Japan and Fiji.
- Update – Match Result – Japan 41-36 Fiji
Match Permutations – Japan Sakura Fifteen vs Fijiana 15’s 2023
- Japan cannot improve their rating with victory over Fiji in their second test and will remain 11th in the World rankings regardless of results this weekend.
Japan Sakura Fifteen vs Fiji – Saturday, 16 September (18:00 KO @Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium)
Vodafone Fijiana 15’s vs Japan Sakura Fifteen – Saturday, 16 September (18:00 KO @Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium)
Women’s Rugby News 2023
- Sakura Fifteen Announce Pre-WXV 2 2023 Match Schedule.
- WXV – Complete 2023 Guide.
- World Rugby Announce Emirates Match Officials For Remaining 2023 Women’s Internationals and WXV
- Rugby Global Participation – State Of The Game In 2023.