South Africa’s Blue Bulls gave Japanese rugby a reminder of just where it stands Friday night as the Currie Cup side hammered Canon Eagles 50-3 at Machida Athletic Stadium.
And to make things worse, Japanese rugby was also handed a lesson in big match organization as many fans missed the kickoff and a large part of the first half due to traffic congestion.
Organizers said before the game that “tonight the stadium will be close to a full house for the first time in its history” but there were still a lot of empty seats at kickoff.
Those in the stadium on a hot and humid evening saw the Eagles play bravely but with their forwards giving away 7 kg and 9 cm a man and their backs 13kg and 9 cm, it was always going to be a long night.
And so it proved as the Bulls dominated possession and territory — though the Eagles to their credit did make them work hard in the heat.
“It was a hard fought game and we really enjoyed it,” said Blue Bulls captain Lappies Labuschagne.
Tries by Deon Stegmann and Dean Greyling, both of which were converted by former Ricoh Black Ram Louis Fouche saw the Bulls race away to a 14-0 lead, as Canon struggled with the intensity and physicality of the opposition.
“They put us under a lot of pressure and that forced up to make mistakes,” said Canon captain Ryohei Mitomo.
A penalty by Mitomo closed the gap and showed that the Eagles were taking things seriously even though this was a preseason friendly.
But that was as good as it got as the Blue Bulls — who contained six Springboks including Francois Hougaard who will play for the Eagles in the Top League after this year’s Rugby World Cup — proved they had too much firepower even with the sides playing uncontested scrums for 55 minutes after Canon’s two hookers were injured in the first half.
Labuschagne and Burger Odendaal both crossed early in the second half, and while Canon did well to stop the scoring for a short period the Bulls finished strongly with Hanro Liebenberg, Odendaal, RG Snyman, Daniel Kriel all going over to ensure the vuvuzelas resonated around Machida.