The new Top League was put on hold on Sunday for six weeks to allow Japan’s best (not to mention a number of Samoans, Tongans and Fijians plying their trade in Japan) time off to compete in the Rugby World Cup.
And for a great many of the coaches and players it will be back to the drawing board.
One of the hopes for the new professional league was that the one-sided contests that too often dominated the Japanese game would be a thing of the past. However, in the 12 games played to date only two could be deemed close (earning the losing side a bonus point for losing by seven points or under.)
Glen Marsh can no doubt vouch for the at times, non-existent defense that seems to have been adopted by a great many of the teams, scoring two of the softest tries he is ever likely to score in the NEC Green Rockets’ 54-7 win over the Kubota Spears on Saturday.
The win put the Green Rockets top of the table with a maximum 10 points from two games — four points for a win and one bonus point for scoring four or more tries in a game.
Joining them at the top were Suntory Sungoliath and Toshiba Fuchu Brave Lupus.
Sungoliath followed up its opening day 54-31 victory over Kobe Steel with a 31-12 win over World Fighting Bull, while Brave Lupus accounted for the Secom Rugguts 78-24 before finishing strongly in appalling conditions at Chichibunomiya on Sunday to defeat the Sanyo Wild Knights 38-9, with hooker Hiroki Matsuo again showing what a good all-around player he is.
Quite how he never made the Japan squad for the World Cup is still a mystery.
The Japan Rugby Football Union will be hoping that the six-week break will allow the players to come back refreshed and with a better understanding of what their coaches want of them on the field so that the fledgling league can truly live up to its name.
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