Following today’s victory by the Australia A Schoolboys, Japan will be the new playing field for Australian rugby at all levels for the next seven weeks.

With a 33-10 victory over Higashi Fukuoka High School in Kumagaya, the lads showed the passion anticipated from the first Australian Schoolboys team to travel since pre-COVID 2019.

The three-game trip kicks off a historic stretch that will see tours of Japan by Australia A, Queensland Reds, Western Force, and Melbourne Rebels squads.

A highlight of the five tries was an athletic winger from Queensland’s Mountain Creek State High School named Finn Lawson’s 70-meter try.

Riley Langfield, a fullback from St Stanislaus’ College in Bathurst, enjoyed the nice ball that the forwards gained with two tries.

Inside the center is Shore School. In the backs, Leo Bassingwaighte from Riverview and dashing halfback Nick Lamming from the same school both stood out for their powerful defense and straight ball runs.

With his big ball-carries up front, Hills Sports High No. 8 Luron Patea was a true line-bender. Harry Davis, a flanker from The Scots College, Will Taylor, a lineout leader from Stannies, and Seb Bush, a lock partner from Northern Beaches Secondary College, all led the way as well.

australia's rugby
In Japan, winger Finn Lawson dives to score a long-range attempt. Image by AFLO Sport’s Naoki Morita

The history of the Australian Schoolboys and Japan dates back 45 years to the illustrious 1977–1978 tour, during which a youthful, hirsute Wally Lewis, playing inside center, scored a try in the 42-0 victory against Japan Schools in Tokyo as a pit stop on the way to London.

Coach Mark Moxon said from Japan that the players “were tremendously pumped and really ready to play.”

“Throughout the whole game, we barely missed a few tackles, and huge forwards like Luron set the tone by breaking the line with their carries to give us a boost.

Every aspect of the trip is being enjoyed by the lads. Before kickoff and after the game, they bow to the other team.

Seb Bush, our captain, is one of the guys who is learning a little Japanese, while Will McKinnon and Harry, two large boys, are leading the pace with their levels of sushi consumption.

Robbie Deans, a former coach of the Wallabies, once again demonstrated his understanding of the game by conversing with the students and sharing the resources of his Saitama Wild Knights team, which competes at the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.

Rugby for the Rebels is managed by former Wallaby Nick Stiles, who believes that Australia’s rugby has many fantastic potential in Japan.

When asked about the Japanese club where he worked with Quade Cooper and Will Genia on the team, Stiles responded, “We have a connection with Kintetsu and really share IP.”

Playing games in Japan has a big advantage over playing in Australia since it is in a third-tier tournament and it is in a convenient time zone.

australia's rugby
Nick Lamming, a halfback for the Australia A Schoolboys, in action. Image by AFLO Sport’s Naoki Morita

On October 15 in Osaka, the Rebels will play the Kintetsu Liners; on November 4 in Kumagaya, the Reds will play the Deans and the Wild Knights; and in early November, the Force will play twice against the Urayasu D-Rocks.

Australia A Team to Tokyo, Japan?

On Saturday, the Australia A team will kick off a three-game trip in Tokyo, where players like Suliasi Vunivalu, Langi Gleeson, Tane Edmed, Ben Donaldson, and the fully recovered Tom Banks may compete for a spot on the Wallabies for the November Tests.

In reference to the upcoming Force tour in November, Rugby Australia Chief Executive Andy Marinos stated on Tuesday, “I believe working with Japan strategically is vital and establishing those connections.”

We’ve spoken about how to build the market in Japan and the USA organically as part of the long-term goal.

With no tier between club and Super Rugby in Australia, Queensland Reds co-captain Liam Wright stated that expanding with off-season travels to Japan helps to fill “the big hole” that exists.

In the National Rugby Championship, which took place from 2014 to 2019, Wright noted, “We were fairly privileged with more year-round football and battle-hardening.”

“There is a void that must be filled. The Reds’ match in Japan is a terrific point of emphasis and will provide certain team members and some of Queensland’s top club players additional chances to shine.

Australia A Schoolboys 33 defeated Higashi Fukuoka High School 10 (R Langfield 2, L Patea, F Lawson, J Ingleton tries; F Lawson 4 conversions).

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