Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.

Revitalized England Dominates Japan with Eight Tries, Kicking Off Tour in Style

Better opposition than Japan awaits this developing England team, but they will arrive in New Zealand having relished their Tokyo stopover. There was plenty to admire in this eight-try demolition of Eddie Jones’s inexperienced Japan side, with England proving increasingly formidable both in attack and defense.

Jones undoubtedly noticed the contrast between the beleaguered team he left behind in late 2022 and the rejuvenated, eager squad that dominated his Brave Blossoms for an hour here. Several players stood out on this warm, sultry afternoon, particularly scrum-half Alex Mitchell and Harlequins pair Chandler Cunningham-South and Marcus Smith.

Mitchell scored his first try for England, while Smith contributed a sharp try and played a significant role in two others before a second-half knock and a stint in the sin-bin ended his game. Japan managed a couple of late tries, but the visitors were clearly superior until substitutions and the 73rd-minute dismissal of Charlie Ewels for a dangerous clear-out disrupted their rhythm.

Ewels will be disappointed, earning the dubious distinction of becoming the first player to be sent off twice for England. After his early red card in the 2022 Six Nations against Ireland, he was on the field for less than five minutes before a balance loss during a breakdown hit led to the ejection. Despite this, England emerged unscathed ahead of their two-Test series against the All Blacks, with Smith’s early departure attributed to cramp on a day when the heat challenged everyone.

Central Tokyo was blazingly hot around midday, but some light cloud later provided relief. The humidity and temperatures near 30 degrees Celsius were precisely the challenging conditions Jones had hoped for. Japan, fielding five debutants, started energetically, and their fast-paced ‘Chosoku’ rugby briefly left England’s defenders scrambling. However, costly fumbles and turnovers limited the home side to an early Lee Seung-sin penalty.

Once England settled, their fortunes improved. Mitchell and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso tested Japan’s defense, and with pressure mounting, Cunningham-South drove over from close range. A pre-planned training ground move led to the second try, with Jamie George’s long throw to a charging Ollie Lawrence setting up Smith, who capitalized with a slashing right-foot step.

Smith was also instrumental in England’s third try before the half-hour, delivering a long pass to Feyi-Waboso, who scored wide on the right. England’s increasing ability to exploit multiple areas until opponents crack was evident again when Smith dispatched a perfectly-weighted cross kick to Henry Slade, giving England a convincing 26-3 lead at halftime.

The second half was one-way traffic as Japan’s debutants faced the harsh realities of Test rugby. Mitchell dummied over for a try and provided the offload for Ben Earl’s sixth. Harry Randall found a gap to score the seventh before Sam Underhill powered over to hit the half-century mark.

The home crowd, although sparse, saw late scores from Koga Nezuka and Takuya Yamasawa after Smith earned a yellow card. Despite a penalty count of 17, higher than desired, England’s blitz and scramble defense were effective. Earl even played a few minutes at inside centre, adding to the management’s satisfaction.

Off the field, the team spent a productive week engaging with local culture, visiting onsens, baseball games, high schools, and mingling with sumo wrestlers. While the new Nations Championship starting in 2026 may signal the end of epic north vs. south tours, experiencing other cultures remains valuable. Next stop: New Zealand’s rugby pitches, where a different kind of challenge awaits.

Back to top button