A quick catch-up on recent rugby news and features with a Japan focus:
- The Top League is hoping to lure England stars Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje as it pursues its soaring ambition of becoming the world’s leading rugby competition, its boss says. Japan’s premier rugby competition, long a favorite of Southern Hemisphere stars, is now shifting its attention to Europe in an effort to solidify its international appeal.
- Cashed-up Japanese rugby clubs are going to lure more players away from Australia in the future and turn holding onto talent like Marika Koroibete into a major struggle, according to Wallabies coach Dave Rennie. A slew of established Antipodean test players are already in Japan — with ex-All Blacks captain Kieran Read and Australia skipper Michael Hooper even on the same team.
- Ayumu Goromaru, who announced last year he would retire after the current Top League season, said he already had a plan for when he would walk away from the sport when he joined Yamaha Jubilo out of college. The former Japan national team star fullback always planned to retire the year he turned 35, writes Kaz Nagatsuka — and he’s sticking to it.
- Japan will open its 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign in France against the second-ranked team from the Americas qualifying tourney before clashing with England and ex-coach Eddie Jones, World Rugby has announced. After coaching Japan to the last eight for the first time in 2019 as host nation, Jamie Joseph will try to take the world No. 10 side a step further on foreign soil.
- A New Zealand TV presenter has apologized for using a mock Asian accent when referring to Otago Highlanders’ Japanese international Kazuki Himeno after a Super Rugby Aotearoa match on April 2. Joe Wheeler, who once played in Japan’s Top League, was discussing Himeno’s performance in the Highlanders’ shock 33-12 win over league leaders Canterbury Crusaders.