Sakura Fifteen Team Announced for Opening Rugby World Cup Pool Match

Japan Head Coach Lesley McKenzie has today named the Sakura Fifteen team to take on Canada in Japan’s opening Pool B match at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Kicking off at 15:15 New Zealand local time, 11:15 Japan Standard Time on Sunday, October 9, the Sakura Fifteen will be looking to make a strong start in the tournament against the number three ranked Canadians.

The side is captained by Saki Minami in her 27th test at loose-head prop, while the impressive Sachiko Kato, who spent the last two seasons playing in England with the Exeter Chiefs, will earn her 12th cap at tighthead prop. The barnstorming Seina Saito, Japan’s most capped player (32 caps) will add her considerable leadership and experience to the backrow at blindside flanker, while 30 cap utility forward Misaki Suzuki returns to the team via the reserves bench, having missed the last two matches against Ireland and New Zealand.

The exiting halves pairing of livewire scrumhalf Megumi Abe (11 caps) and impressive fly-half Ayasa Otsuka (10 caps) continues, with the pair looking to ignite the Sakura Fifteens’ attack after being starved of attacking opportunities by the Black Ferns two weeks ago at Eden Park. Try scoring, speed-machine Rinka Matsuda (6 caps) returns to fullback after playing on the left-wing against New Zealand and will relish the extra space from which to attack.

Lesley McKenzie Head Coach

Sakura Fifteen Head Coach, Lesley McKenzie commented:

“We’re really excited about our first World Cup game. Our preparations are over and we’re looking forward to implementing our style of play against a really strong adversary in Canada. They’re a confident team with ball in hand, so we need to be able to consistently stop their attack, which means making our tackles accurately, something we know we can do, as we’ve done it this year against Ireland, South Africa, Australia and Fiji. Canada also take a lot of pride in their set piece so we will need to neutralise that as best as possible in order to give us the best platform to play our brand of rugby.”

Sunday’s match will be telecast live in Japan from 11:00 JST via JSports Two and will available live and via catch-up on JSports On-demand.

Following their opening match against Canada in Whangarei, the Sakura Fifteen will play their remaining two Pool B matches against the USA on Saturday, October 15, also in Whangarei, and Italy on Sunday, October 23, at Waitakere Stadium in Auckland.

Team List:

1Saki MINAMIYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars163721995/11/1826
2Nijiho NAGATAInternational Budo Univ.162782000/12/69
3Sachiko KATOYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars164892000/2/1911
4Yuna SATOTokyo Sankyu Phoenix170751998/9/117
5Maki TAKANOYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars170761995/8/1717
6Seina SAITOMIE PEARLS164731992/5/3032
8Ayano NAGAIYOKOHAMA TKM168841997/10/1411
9Megumi ABEARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYA147531998/4/2811
10Ayasa OTSUKARKU GRACE163651999/5/510
Rissho Univ.
12Shione NAKAYAMAYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars166701999/1/188
13Mana FURUTATokyo Sankyu Phoenix167701997/11/1615
14Hinano NAGURAYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars170761997/3/2211
15Rinka MATSUDANippon Sport Science Univ.170772001/12/56
16Hinata KOMAKINippon Sport Science Univ.166782001/5/93
17Misaki SUZUKITokyo Sankyu Phoenix164661992/4/930
18Makoto LAVEMAIYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars163731997/7/218
19Kie TAMAIMIE PEARLS168791992/10/2414
Rissho Univ.
21Moe TSUKUIYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars153542000/3/2819
22Minori YAMAMOTOMIE PEARLS169701996/12/921
23Kyoko HOSOKAWAMIE PEARLS164711999/7/88