Japan vs England Preview – RWC 2023 Pool D Pool Match
With England’s somewhat surprising performance and hard-fought win over Argentina in the first round (much of it with 14 men), Japan Mens XV Head Coach Jamie Joseph has said that the overall mood in the Japan camp was very positive, but they know they will need to play much better in Nice on Sunday 17th September to overcome England and take a big step towards the quarterfinals.
Japan’s defensive game is one key focus area after Chile really challenged them physically, and the English will be a step up in that department. Joseph said after the win against Chile “When we play a team like Chile or England and we keep missing tackles we are going to come second. Fortunately today we made enough tackles.”
Brave Blossoms Assistant Coach Tony Brown added in a Chilean post-match debrief, that Japan needs to “find a way to play Japanese rugby around the physical pressure England will bring.”
Joseph has named a Brave Blossoms similar side for their second match in Pool D, with the backline mostly unchanged but the forwards have a reshuffled pack which will see Michael Leitch make his 15th Rugby World Cup appearance and become Japan’s most capped men’s Rugby World Cup player.
In total, there are four changes to the starting XV; with Shota Horie, Pieter Labuschagne and captain Kazuki Himeno coming into the forwards, and Tomoki Osada joining the backs.
Himeno was a late withdrawal and was set to be captain against Chile but will captain his first Rugby World Cup match against the English in only his fourth test in charge, while Pieter ‘Lappies’ Labuschagne returns following a two-match suspension.
Himeno’s return to number eight means Jack Cornelsen moves back into the second-row, alongside the two-try-scorer against Chile, Amato Fakatava.
Joseph said of the English threats, “We are expecting a lot of pressure, it is a big part of their game [kicking]. [Our players] have got to be good enough to catch those balls under extreme pressure. It’s going to be one of the big parts of the game that we have got to improve on. We know that and we have done a lot of training on it all week.”
The backs will again be controlled by the combination of Yutake Nagare and Rikiya Matsuda as the starting halves at numbers nine and ten respectively. The centres see Ryoto Nakamura stay at inside centre but he is joined by Tomoki Osada at outside centre, with Dylan Riley on the bench. The starting back three remain the same as the first match.
Nika Amashukeli (Georgia) is the youngest referee at this tournament – and the second-youngest in RWC history – and will take charge of this Pool D match.
The Battle Up Front
The game will likely be determined upfront, and Japanese scrum coach, Shin Hasegawa, said mid-week, “They caused us problems last time [a 52-13 defeat at Twickenham in November 2022] because we got penalised three times, which was costly for us. We have worked for a year on our scrums so that we will hopefully be able to compete from the beginning.”
Prop Jiwon Gu was penalised in the match against England in that fixture and is looking forward to renewing the rivalry with Ellis Genge, saying lessons have been learned. “I got penalised in the scrum three times in a row against England last year. When I was slightly passive in my binding, my body went down accidentally, which got me penalised. Now I have corrected that issue with my scrummaging, I am sure I will be able to get back at them, so I am looking forward to it.”
The front-rower has yet to beat England and added, “This is the game where I would like to give my best performance of the World Cup.”
England head coach Steve Borthwick it seems has also identified the key battle in the packs and made three changes to his pack to face Japan, with Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler and Lewis Ludlam all starting the match. In addition, Billy Vunipola returns from suspension to provide extra power to the back-row but starts on the bench.
Borthwick said of Leitch, “Michael Leitch is a tremendous player. I was privileged to work with him in the build-up to the 2015 World Cup. He’s a really intelligent player and he’s at the very heart of everything that’s good about Japanese rugby. He’s a man I have tremendous respect for. That doesn’t change the fact that we want to make sure we outperform him on Sunday night.”
English fullback, Freddie Steward, said of the threat the Japanese posed, “They’re a good rugby team and they’re very dangerous with ball in hand. They’ve got powerful runners. You look at the likes of (Kotaro) Matsushima in the back three and the threat he poses with ball in hand. They’re a good outfit, we’re going to have to be on our best game at the weekend.”
One to watch for the English will be Ben Earl who is starting for the fifth consecutive test and was a key cog in the win over Argentina in Marseille- with a team-high 10 defensive rucks against and one breakdown steal.
World Rugby confirmed that there will be water breaks at all Rugby World Cup 2023 matches being played on 15, 16 and 17 September.
Japan vs England – Pool D RWC 2023 Match Permutations
- England can only improve their World Rugby ranking rating by 0.02 points if they beat Japan – so they can not climb higher than their current 6th spot
- More TBC
Japan Brave Blossoms Squad vs England – RWC 2023 Pool D Sunday 17 September 2023
1 Keita Inagaki
2 Shota Horie
3 Jiwon Gu
4 Jack Cornelsen
5 Amato Fakatava
6 Michael Leitch
7 Pieter Labuschagne
8 Kazuki Himeno (c)
9 Yutaka Nagare
10 Rikiya Matsuda
11 Jone Naikabula
12 Ryoto Nakamura
13 Tomoki Osada
14 Kotaro Matsushima
15 Semisi Masirewa
16 Atsushi Sakate
17 Craig Millar
18 Asaeli Ai Valu
19 Warner Dearns
20 Kanji Shimokawa
21 Naoto Saito
22 Dylan Riley
23 Lomano Lemeki
England Squad vs Japan – RWC 2023 Pool D Sunday 17 September 2023
1 Joe Marler
2 Jamie George
3 Kyle Sinckler
4 Maro Itoje
5 Ollie Chessum
6 Courtney Lawes (c)
7 Ben Earl
8 Lewis Ludlam
9 Alex Mitchell
10 George Ford
11 Elliot Daly
12 Manu Tuilagi
13 Joe Marchant
14 Jonny May
15 Freddie Steward
16 Theo Dan
17 Ellis Genge
18 Will Stuart
19 George Martin
20 Billy Vunipola
21 Ben Youngs
22 Marcus Smith
23 Ollie Lawrence
Brave Blossom News – Rugby World Cup 2023
- What Opta’s Data Says About Japan’s Performance Against Chile At RWC 2023.
- Brave Blossoms Win RWC 2023 Opener Against Chile.
- What Have The Brave Blossoms Players Been Saying At RWC 2023?
- Brave Blossoms Announce Final RWC 2023 Squad.