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Mafi starts as Japan make four changes for Ireland

Amanaki Mafi. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Japan coach Jamie Joseph has named his team for the Pool A match against Ireland at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on Saturday.


The Brave Blossoms have made four changes to the starting XV that defeated Russia 30-10 in the opening match at RWC 2019.

Captain Michael Leitch drops to the bench, as do Asaeli Ai Valu, Lomano Lava Lemeki and Wimpie van der Walt drop to the bench.

Luke Thompson, at 38 the oldest player at RWC 2019, is promoted to the starting line-up. The same goes for Jiwon Koo, Amanaki Lelei Mafi and Ryohei Yamanaka.

Pieter Labuschagne, one of only three players to captain the Brave Blossoms on debut, also captains the side against Ireland.

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Labuschagne, also going by his nickname ‘Lappies’, is the third foreign-born player to captain Japan in a World Cup match following Andrew McCormick (NZL) and Michael Leitch (NZL).

Pieter Labuschagne will become the fourth South African-born player to captain a country other than South Africa at the Rugby World Cup following Kevin Dalzell (USA), Quintin Geldenhuys (Italy) and Dion O’Cuinneagain (Ireland).


William Tupou will play on the wing for the first time in his test career. He has made all of his previous test appearances at full-back and centre.


1. Keita Inagaki
2. Shota Horie
3. Jiwon Koo
4. Luke Thompson
5. James Moore
6. Kazuki Himeno
7. Pieter Labuschagne (capt.)
8. Amanaki Lelei Mafi
9. Yutaka Nagare
10. Yu Tamura
11. William Tupou
12. Ryoto Nakamura
13. Timothy Lafaele
14. Kotaro Matsushima
15. Ryohei Yamanaka

16. Atsushi Sakate
17. Isileli Nakajima
18. Asaeli Ai Valu
19. Wimpie van der Walt
20. Michael Leitch
21. Fumiaki Tanaka
22. Rikiya Matsuda
23. Lomano Lava Lemeki

Jim Hamilton and RugbyPass sat down with Scotland Legend Gavin Hastings, who talked us through his best and worst memories of the ’91 RWC.

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