Rugby World Cup: Countdown to Kickoff

Japan Names Squad for 2019 Rugby World Cup

Sports Guide to Japan

Japan’s 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup that is set to kick off in Tokyo on September 20.

On August 29, the Japan Rugby Football Union announced the final 31 members of the men’s national team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Head coach Jamie Joseph whittled down the roster from 41 candidates over a 10-day training camp in Hokkaidō that finished on August 28. While 10 of the players have World Cup experience, 21 will be making their debuts at the tournament, which will get underway in Japan on September 20. Among the veterans, lock Luke Thompson will be playing in his fourth World Cup, while captain and flanker Michael Leitch, hooker Horie Shōta, and scrum half Tanaka Fumiaki will be making their third appearance at rugby’s premier event.

Japan will meet powerhouse South Africa in a pre-tournament friendly on September 6 in the squad’s final warmup before facing off against Russia in the tournament opener on September 20. The Brave Blossoms will then play Ireland, Samoa, and Scotland in the opening group stage. Japan aims to finish in the top two of its pool and qualify for the knockout round for the first time.

Japan’s Pool A Fixtures

Date Kick-Off City
Japan vs Russia September 20 (Friday) 7:45 pm Tokyo
Japan vs Ireland September 28 (Saturday) 4:15 pm Fukuroi, Shizuoka Prefecture
Japan vs Samoa October 5 (Saturday) 7:30 pm Toyota, Aichi Prefecture
Japan vs Scotland October 13 (Sunday) 7:45 pm Yokohama

Knockout Stage

Date Kick-Off City
Japan vs South Africa October 20 (Sunday) 7:15 pm Tokyo

Related article › 2019 Rugby World Cup: Match Venues and Host Cities

Japan’s 2019 Rugby World Cup Team

(Data current as of August 29, 2019)

Head Coach

Joseph, Jamie

Date of birth: November 21, 1969
Age: 50

Managing highlights
2011–2016 Managed Highlanders (New Zealand)
2015 Highlanders finished as Super Rugby champions

Forwards

Props

Inagaki Keita

Date of birth: June 2, 1990
Age: 29
Height: 186 cm
28 caps
Club: Panasonic Wild Knights

Kizu Yūsuke

Date of birth: December 2, 1995
Age: 23
Height: 178 cm
3 caps
Club: Toyota Verblitz

Koo Ji-won

Date of birth: July 20, 1994
Age: 25
Height: 183 cm
7 caps
Club: Honda Heat

Nakajima Isileli

Date of birth: July 9, 1989
Age: 30
Height: 186 cm
2 caps
Club: Kobelco Steelers

Valu, Asaeli Ai

Date of birth: May 7, 1989
Age: 30
Height: 187 cm
8 caps
Club: Panasonic Wild Knights

Hookers

Kitade Takuya

Date of birth: September 14, 1992
Age: 26
Height: 180 cm
0 caps
Club: Suntory Sungoliath

Sakate Atsushi

Date of birth: June 21, 1993
Age: 26
Height: 180 cm
16 caps
Club: Panasonic Wild Knights

Horie Shōta

Date of birth: January 21, 1986
Age: 33
Height: 180 cm
61 caps
Club: Panasonic Wild Knights

Locks

Thompson, Luke

Date of birth: April 16, 1981
Age: 38
Height: 196 cm
66 caps
Club: Kintetsu Liners

Van der Walt, Wimpie

Date of birth: January 6, 1989
Age: 30
Height: 188 cm
12 caps
Club: NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes

Helu, Uwe

Date of birth: July 12, 1990
Age: 29
Height: 193 cm
13 caps
Club: Yamaha Júbilo 

Moore, James

Date of birth: June 11, 1993
Age: 26
Height: 195 cm
2 caps
Club: Munakata Sanix Blues 

Flankers

Tui, Hendrik

Date of birth: December 13, 1987
Age: 31
Height: 189 cm
44 caps
Club: Suntory Sungoliath

Tokunaga Yoshitaka

Date of birth: April 10, 1992
Age: 27
Height: 185 cm
11 caps
Club: Toshiba Brave Lupus 

Leitch, Michael

Date of birth: October 7, 1988
Age: 30
Height: 190 cm
62 caps
Club: Toshiba Brave Lupus

Labuschagné, Pieter

Date of birth: January 11, 1989
Age: 30
Height: 189 cm
2 caps
Club: Kubota Spears

Flanker/Number Eight

Himeno Kazuki

Date of birth: July 27, 1994
Age: 25
Height: 187 cm
12 caps
Club: Toyota Verblitz

Number Eight

Amanaki, Lelei Mafi

Date of birth: January 11, 1990
Age: 29
Height: 189 cm
24 caps
Club: NTT Communications Shining Arcs

Backs

Scrum-Halves

Shigeno Kaito

Date of birth: November 21, 1990
Age: 28
Height: 170 cm
9 caps
Club: Toyota Verblitz

Tanaka Fumiaki

Date of birth: January 3, 1985
Age: 34
Height: 166 cm
70 caps
Club: Canon Eagles

Nagare Yutaka

Date of birth: September 4, 1992
Age: 26
Height: 166 cm
18 caps
Club: Suntory Sungoliath

Fly-Half

Tamura Yū

Date of birth: January 9, 1989
Age: 30
Height: 181 cm
57 caps
Club: Canon Eagles

Fly-Half/Center

Matsuda Rikiya

Date of birth: May 3, 1994
Age: 25
Height: 181 cm
19 caps
Club: Panasonic Wild Knights

Wings

Fukuoka Kenki

Date of birth: September 7, 1992
Age: 26
Height: 175 cm
33 caps
Club: Panasonic Wild Knights

Moeakiola, Ataata

Date of birth: February 6, 1996
Age: 23
Height: 185 cm
3 caps
Club: Kobelco Steelers

Lemeki, Lomano Lava

Date of birth: January 20, 1989
Age: 30
Height: 177 cm
11 caps
Club: Honda Heat

Centers

Tupou, William

Date of birth: July 20, 1990
Age: 29
Height: 188 cm
9 caps
Club: Coca-Cola Red Sparks

Nakamura Ryōto

Date of birth: June 3, 1991
Age: 28
Height: 178 cm
18 caps
Club: Suntory Sungoliath

Lafaele, Timothy

Date of birth: August 19, 1991
Age: 28
Height: 186 cm
17 caps
Club: Kobelco Steelers

Full-Back/Wing

Matsushima Kōtarō

Date of birth: February 26, 1993
Age: 26
Height: 178 cm
33 caps
Club: Suntory Sungoliath

Full-Back

Yamanaka Ryōhei

Date of birth: June 22, 1988
Age: 31
Height: 188 cm
13 caps
Club: Kobelco Steelers

(Originally published in Japanese on August 29, 2019; updated on October 15, 2019. All photos © Japan Rugby Football Union.)

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