Suntory fullback Kotaro Matsushima named Top League MVP

Kyodo

Suntory Sungoliath fullback Kotaro Matsushima won the Japan Rugby Top League’s Most Valuable Player Award on Sunday.

“I’m so happy to receive this award. Being picked when there are so many outstanding players is an honor,” said the 24-year-old Matsushima, whose club recently won its second straight league title. “It was a season in which I really grew.”

The award for the league’s top new player went to No. 8 Kazuki Himeno, 23, who was named Toyota Verblitz’s team captain in his first professional season out of university.

Although Suntory won the league and national championship in a bruising 12-8 win in the final over Panasonic Wild Knights, the runners-up captured the bulk of the league’s Best Fifteen Awards.

Prop Keita Inagaki and hooker Shota Horie were among Panasonic’s nine winners.