Rugby has been played in Japan for much longer than its other national pastime, baseball. Their national team, The Brave Blossoms, is the strongest rugby union team in Asia.
So it’s only natural that the nation’s capital Tokyo would have its fair share of rugby clubs. Check out a few of the top rugby players who’ve played for Tokyo clubs. Let’s exploce Top Rugby Players To Have Played For Tokyo Clubs below.
- Top Rugby Players To Have Played For Tokyo Clubs
Top Rugby Players To Have Played For Tokyo Clubs
George Smith and Matt Giteau
These two Australian veterans have now made their mark in Super Rugby, Europe and Japan, as they help spearhead their side’s perfect campaign to date, having won all seven of their games so far this season.
Smith is actually in his second stint with the club, having previously represented them between 2011 and 2014, before spells at Lyon and Wasps. The Tokyo based side aren’t just going after experienced players, either, with young Reds centre Campbell Magnay also on their roster.
Juan Smith and Wycliff Palu
Two wily old back rowers, Smith and Palu bring over 120 combined international caps of experience to Toyota, where they play under the tutelage of Rugby World Cup winning coach Jake White.
Palu arrived on the back of 11 years with the Waratahs, whilst Smith spent the majority of his four previous years dominating European rugby with Toulon. Like Suntory, Toyota have also targeted talented youngsters, with South Africa’s Jason Jenkins a valuable tool in their engine room.
Geoff Parling, Jacques Potgieter and Andre Taylor
Parling showed last season with Exeter that he still has what it takes at the highest level, whilst Potgieter has been one of the more underrated back rowers in Super Rugby over the last three seasons. Taylor was once a standout full-back for the Hurricanes and the New Zealand U20 side, but has been spent the last four years bringing his counter attacking wizardry to the Kinetsu Liners. Young South African centre André Esterhuizen is also on the books in Munakata.
Tusi Pisi is the top scorer for the Sunwolves, a new Tokyo based Super Rugby club that represents the country in the SANZAAR’s international Super Rugby competitions starting this year. He’s also played for the Hurricanes and the Crusaders rugby clubs in New Zealand. His position is either fly half or fullback.
Pisi is originally from Samoa on the African continent. Currently, the newly formed Sunwolves squad are known as the HITO Communications Sunwolves, for obvious sponsorship reasons.
Australian rugby player George Gregan played with Tokyo team the Suntory Sungoliath from 2008 to 2011, when he announced his retirement from the sport. At the time, Gregan was the most capped player in the history of rugby, and is still Australia’s highest ever internationally capped player. Gregan was born in Zambia, Africa.
Matsushima has played for Top League team the Suntory Sungoliath (also known as the Suntory Rugby Football Club) since 2011. The Sungoliath are a Top League team based in Fuchu, Tokyo. Matsushima was born in South Africa, but attended high school in Yokohama, Japan. Matsushima’s performance with the Sungoliath earned him a spot on the Top League Team of the Season. His position is center.
Elton Jantjies and Amanaki Mafi, NTT Shining Arcs
The Springboks’ current fly half and a talismanic Japanese international that has lit up both the Premiership and Super Rugby in recent seasons.
Both players have Super Rugby contracts and will be returning to South Africa and Australia respectively in the new year, but they are valuable contributors, even without much of an offseason. Jantjies’ talents aren’t always appreciated in South Africa, but they are in Japan.
Liam Messam, Richard Kahui, Cory Jane and Michael Leitch, Toshiba Brave Lupus
Where other teams have recruited heavily from Australia and South Africa, Toshiba, based in Tokyo, have gone all in on Kiwis. Messam, Kahui and Jane are all Rugby World Cup winners and still have plenty to offer, especially as they are now out of the All Blacks’ frame.
Leitch, like Mafi, is another talismanic figure for the Japanese national team and alongside Messam gives Toshiba one of the most prolific back rows in the competition. This is once of Top Rugby Players To Have Played For Tokyo Clubs.