Despite some imports originally from New Zealand and Australia featuring in the squad, overall the team seem to struggle against bigger more physical sides. But Coach Eddie Jones is upbeat about his team for this year’s world cup. Steve Borthwick (ex- England Captain) is part of the coaching teams so that should mean some good line outs.

On 12th October, the day after their pool matches end is National Sports Day in Japan – so they will be taking some inspiration from this!

Captain: Ayumu Goromaru

Player to Watch: Regretfully, I know very little about the Blossoms – but I do keep reading about Yoshikazu Fujita as a good try scorer.

Dates of Pool Matches:

Saturday 19th September vs South Africa – Kick off – 16.45 Brighton

Wednesday 23rd September vs Scotland – Kick off 14.30 – Kingsholm, Gloucester

Saturday 3rd October vs Samoa –Kick off 14.30- Stadium mk, Milton Keynes

Sunday 11th October vs USA – Kick off 20.00 – Kingsholm, Gloucester

For more information about the Japanese Rugby Squad – http://jrfu.org/jrfu/index.php

For full details follow: http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/

What to eat and Drink whilst watching the Cherry Blossoms

Food: The perception of Japanese cooking being delicate and light with a great reliance on super fresh seafood and fish may not seem the Go-To food on match day but it makes a light alternative to all the many BBQs throughout the World Cup team cuisines. Sushi is often seen as an exclusive sort of food but it’s the original street food in Japan.  If you are feeling creative, Sushi is remarkably easy to make at home once you have a few basics. Do visit – https://www.japancentre.com who have a good delivery service across a wide range of Japanese food & drink.  For both Sushi and Sashimi, the freshness of the fish is vital, so perhaps send your guests on a fishing trip before the match!

Several of my favourite Japanese dishes such as Ramen and Soba noodles involve too much hot stock splashing around to make them good match food – but Yakitori could have been designed especially. Skewers of chargrilled chicken, which are a favourite snack at a bar on the way home from work in Tokyo, with Shio (salt) or Tare( sweet soy sauce) as dips would be the ideal pairing with a glass of Japanese beer.

Beer: Several big names dominate the Japanese market including Kirin and Asahi, but with a good variety of styles. Asahi is a dry crisp style but there is also the Asahi Kuronama, more like a dark ale.  Try this supplier for a range of beers  http://www.mountfuji.co.uk

Wine: The national drink is Sake, fermented rice wine, which is a complex a world as wine from grapes that we are used to in Europe and just as revered.

Many people in the UK look out for the award winning bottles with those unmistakable medal stickers of the International Wine Challenge, but not many know that they also run a Sake Challenge as well.  http://www.internationalwinechallenge.com

Sadly I cannot yet find a stockist for this year’s challenge winner, Aizu Homare Banshu Yamada Junmai Daiginjo 2015 but Berry Brothers & Rudd do stock a good selection of various sakes.  http://www.bbr.com

Whisky: There will be more than Rugby to be thinking about on 23rd September as they take on Scotland. Whisky is big business in Japan and in the Whisky Bible 2015, a Japanese single malt took the number one spot (and there were no Scottish Whisky in the top 5!).

Yamazaki is a recognisable brand in the UK as it’s been imported for over 30 years – stocked occasionally by http://www.waitrose.com  Or visit this website for a wider range of Japanese Malts. https://www.masterofmalt.com

Tea: The Japanese tea ceremony is well documented, so I will merely mention here that as an alternative for any drivers, do seek out some Matcha Green Tea – very calming in times of match stress.