Japan has advanced in the world hierarchy with an adopted art of naturalization and school-level recruitment.
France will find Japan, an opponent against whom they have never lost in six official encounters and in twelve confrontations, since the tests between 1978 and 1985 (for reasons difficult to understand) did not give the right to choose their own.
The Blues will inevitably be among the favorites against a rugby country long unknown. Rugby has been played in Japan for a long time, but the country has been almost self-sufficient for years. It was based around school rugby, then university, and finally company.
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But in the 2000s, leaders entered the modern age, with a league of increasingly professional franchises bolstered by foreign players, confirmed stars, or true adventurers. And the national team has taken the steps.
In 2017, Nanterre drew against France, then coached by Guy Novès and commanded by Guilhem Guirado. In 2019, they surpassed the group stage milestone at a World Cup for the first time, beating Ireland and Scotland in passing.
Admittedly, the competition was organized at home, but since the Japanese managed to tickle the All Blacks, there has been a 38-31 loss in Tokyo a month ago. A third line called Kazuki Himeno commands respect. He would certainly be in the top 14 if the desire for exile got the better of him.
If we take a close look at the latest compositions, we see that the Japanese leaders used every means to achieve their goals. The trained Japanese faces players with meaningful surnames: Australian-trained three-quarters center Dylan Riley came to Japan at the age of 22 to defend the colors of the Panasonic franchise.
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After a three-year stay, he was able to put on the shirt beaten with cherry branches. Same profile for the third line Jack Cornelsen, also Australian, came to Japan with a professional contract at the age of 22, while still at Panasonic. The examples could be multiplied. In the last lost game against the English we counted eight out of 23 players from another country.
Recruited from the age of 15
Not all of them end up as mercenaries, the Japanese association also tries to recruit young foreign elements of around fifteen years of age to integrate them into their school education.
Warner Dearns, a second line of 2m02, born in New Zealand and landed in Japan at fifteen to follow his father, a fitness trainer for a professional team.
Center or winger Siosaia Fifita was born in Tonga, he was noticed in his own country, he was offered a scholarship to the College of Ishikawa.
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He was able to defend the colors of Japan in front of the youth categories. Third line veteran Peter Leitch (former captain), New Zealander, lived more or less the same course.
Japanese rugby will always struggle to compete in terms of power and size, so it takes byways to get closer to the highest level.