JRLO 2022-2023 Final Preview
The Japan Rugby League One (JRLO) 2022-2023 Final and 3rd/4th playoffs are contested this weekend with Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights chasing a third consecutive national title at the National Stadium in Tokyo.
Sunday May 21st 2023
All times shown are Japan Time
JRLO 2022-2023 Final
Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights vs Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay – National Stadium in Tokyo – 2.35 pm
The season has run for 22 weeks and on Sunday 21st May 2023, the defending champions, the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights, will try and beat the Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay who are looking for their first national championship.
The Robbie Deand-coached Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights is on their quest for a third consecutive Japanese
title since competition resumed after the pandemic, and in total a seventh since the old Top League was
inaugurated in 2003.
Frans Ludeke is hoping he can claim the coveted silverware for the Kubota Spears and his squad have players who have yet to taste domestic championships such as Springbok powerhouse Malcolm Marx. The hooker has scored 11 tries from the 15 games.
Ludeke has taken his side to three semi-finals since relocating to Japan, but this is his first final and he has struggled against Deans coached teams – in Super Rugby and Top League/Japan Rugby League One.
The regular season contest between this year’s finalists saw the Wild Knights win by 15, but the Spears had led 12-10 at the midpoint of that match. Brave Blossoms international flyhalf, Takuya Yamasawa was the game-changer for the Wild Knights with 25 points, including two tries.
In the semifinal, the Wild Knights ran in five tries without reply in a 36-3 second-period scoreline against the Yokohama Canon Eagles, they have threats across the field but Marika Koroibete nabbed a hattrick.
For Kubota, the backline pivot Bernard Foley is key. The Wallaby will finish as the competition’s leading point-scorer and is playing for a JRLO title and to book his place in the squad heading to RWC 2023.
- Springbok internationals on display include the aforementioned Malcolm Marx, as well as Damien de Allende and Lood de Jager for Panasonic.
- All Black centre Ryan Crotty will start for only the 8th time this season and should be a major asset for the Spears, in what promises to be a tight final.
Among the many Japanese internationals on display, winger Haruto Kida, who will likely be named Rookie of the Year at Monday’s Japan Rugby League One awards, is one of just three players in the league who have scored more tries this season than Marx!
JRLO 2023 Third/Fourth Playoff
Friday May 19 2023
TOKYO SUNTORY SUNGOLIATH v YOKOHAMA CANON EAGLES – Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo, 7pm
Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath meet Yokohama Canon Eagles in the third-placed playoff and one of the players to watch will be Wallaby midfielder Samu Kerevi as he has his first start.
Third might represent a step back for a Suntory side that has won the title five times and appeared in each of the
last two finals, but for Canon, it’s a step in the right direction.
Both Hendrick Tui (Suntory) and Jesse Kriel (Canon) received Semi final red cards and will miss the game. The Springbok centre’s absence hands an opportunity to Luteru Laulala – the younger brother of All Blacks
Casey and Nepo who will play just his third game of the season.
Bok halfback Faf de Klerk is crucial for Canon, and possibly the Springboks for the RWC 2023, while Jamie Joseph will be keeping an eye on the several Brave Blossoms players in action.
Highlights of the JRLO matches can be seen here.
Japan Rugby News 2023
- Japan U20s To Play NZU (New Zealand Student Representatives).
- Japan XV and Brave Blossoms 2023 Match Schedule
- Taiyo Seimei Women’s Sevens Series 2023.
- Asia Rugby Women’s Championship 2023.