The Touch Rugby Season in Japan

August 20th, 2010By Category: Events

At Fun with Touch (FWT), many of the regulars are first timers, so the referee ensures that the game is always free flowing and fun. Weather permitting, games are played every weekend from March through to December at Tatsumi, with a 4-week break in August as it’s a bit hot to play.

FWT is not the only club in the Kanto area that plays social touch rugby on a weekly basis. There are two other clubs, namely Komae Touch and the Shonan Grass Boys.

Weekly games at any of these clubs are open to anyone. First timers or people that haven’t exercised in over 10 years would feel right at home. All of these three clubs have some English speakers (native or otherwise), so if your Japanese is not fantastic but you would like to play at one of these clubs, you can.

If you are a player that would like to play at a higher level, then there are other options that you could undertake. Firstly, there are monthly games played at the Tokyo Gas ground in Omori. You could turn up and play as an individual, or you could join one of the two FWT mixed teams that we usually enter each tournament.

Omori touch tournaments are half days with about 8 teams entered each time. Every team plays 3-4 15 minute games. This is a little more demanding than the regular weekly games because you are playing against organized teams which have a higher level of fitness and knowledge of the game. Also the referees are a lot stricter on the rules. That said, when FWT teams attend these tournaments they usually win more games than they lose.

On top of this, there are social tournaments throughout the year. The four major social tournaments are in Omori, Saitama and two in Fujisawa (Shonan). All of these tournaments have been around for 10-20 years and have strong attendances. An example of the types of attendance at these tournaments, Omori was held at the end of June this year and had 32 teams compete. The Shonan tournament in July attracted over 100 players, and they even held a BBQ afterwards by the beach, which was a lot of fun.

As for competitive touch rugby, there is a competition called the Kanto Touch Super League (KTSL) featuring 10 teams. Summer is generally too hot to play touch rugby, so the competitive touch rugby season is generally split into two “series” – spring and autumn.

For someone to play in the KTSL, they have to be involved in a team. The competition is the best standard in Japan, with all of the Kanto based Japan national players (both men and women) participating. There are teams from each of the aforementioned clubs (FWT, Komae and Shonan), one university side (Sun Body Touch), a women’s team (Kanto Women’s), with the remainder being teams, not clubs. The top three teams in the KTSL over the last 3 years or so have been Sun Body Touch, UNDERDOGs and the Shonan Grass Boys.

Finally, if you are in a team and would like to see if you are the best in the country, there is always the Japan Cup. The Japan Cup is usually held in October after the KTSL season has finished and is split over two days – Saturday is the women’s competition, while Sunday is the men’s competition. Despite being beaten in group play by the Tokyo Warriors in last year’s tournament, the eventual winners were Sun Body Touch. This year, we are hoping that things get shaken up a bit and a new champion arises!

There you have it, the touch rugby season in a nutshell!

Author of this article

Glenn Lambert

Glenn Lambert is a kiwi who has been living and working in Japan since 2002, initially in Saitama, but can now be found in Tokyo itself. Glenn founded Fun with Touch and is an active sportsman having played basketball, OZ Tag and rugby union in Japan.

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  • Glenn Lambert says:

    @Isdatgood, where have you seen touch rugby played in Japan? If you have seen social competitions, the games you saw may not have been the spectacle you were looking for as many of the players who pick up the sport have done so later on in life and therefore don’t have the ball skills and the vision that someone who has been playing rugby from a young age may have. Still, they enjoy the game and turn up regularly which is good for the sport!

    Unlike counties such as NZ where touch rugby is the most popular sport by way of participation, touch rugby here is not a major sport and therefore the player numbers are only in their hundreds, not thousands. Still, there are quality players (and teams) in competitive touch rugby here and they would be competitive in NZ or Australian modules.

    Also, at the last touch rugby World Cup in South Africa in 2007, Japan came 4th in the Men’s division, so there are some good players in the country.

  • Isdatgood says:

    Nothing special…same as Footy but with a flag or a touch.
    No big difference. Still prefer the real Footy though.
    Plus I’ve seen the quality of Touch here in Japan…. and I’m sorry to say but it “SUCKS” badly.


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