With the ninth Rugby World Cup on the horizon, it’s a big year for the sport in Japan this year as the country plays host. It’s the first time it’s been held outside of the traditional rugby hotbeds and so will be the inaugural Asian-based tournament. The final will take place at International Stadium Yokohama on November 2nd but the original idea was that the new Olympic Stadium would host it. Sadly, those plans were shelved when it became evident that it wouldn’t be ready in time. The development seems to be progressing nicely though when I took a look before the game of rugger I’d come to see.
Just a short distance from there is the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground to give it it’s full English title. On Friday 12th April, the Sunwolves took on the Hurricanes (from Wellington in New Zealand) in their first night game in Tokyo as part of the Super Rugby competition.
Funnily enough I read about there being a couple of Friday evening kick offs in my company’s in-house magazine of all places and I thought it was maybe time for me to see another Sunwolves game having previously watched them in action in July 2016. By luck my friend Hiromi had a ticket to give away for the game as she couldn’t go. I jumped at the chance to visit the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium for my fifth time.
Hurricanes were the team I really wanted to see in New Zealand in 2002 as Jonah Lomu played for them. Sadly dates never matched up though and I settled for watching the Canterbury Crusaders versus the Brumbies instead.
On the back of some bitterly cold Spring days, it was quite a mild night and I was sweating on the train going to the game but that may have been down to me wearing too much as I had only just recovered from a cold gained at a Kashiwa Reysol game six days earlier. The build up to kick off featured flames going off as the teams entered the fray, and many fans held up their phones with red lights active on all of them. I might’ve joined in had I known how to do such a thing!
This was the first game since news broke of the Sunwolves exiting Super Rugby in 2020. They may have been the whipping boys at times (such as seven days after this match!) but the team has steadily been improving and they already had two big scalps this season. It should have been three!
It was a fantastic game, particularly the first half which saw some awesome phases of play from the home team who bagged a couple of brilliant tries. Great kicking from fly-half Hayden Parker meant the Sunwolves went in at half time 23-10 up.
Sadly the Sunwolves have something of a history of second half meltdowns and this one was no different. They gave away three tries and failed to execute the necessary points they needed when down in my corner right at the end of the game.
Final score: Sunwolves 23 – 29 Hurricanes
Click here to read ‘Another Live Rugby Match: Sunwolves Vs Waratahs’