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Richie Mo'unga reacts to winning eighth club title in as many years

By Ned Lester
Richie Mounga of Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo celebrates with teammates. Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

Another year, another trophy for former Crusaders and All Blacks star Richie Mo’unga, who won the final of Japan’s Rugby League One over the weekend with Toshiba Brave Lupus.

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The win makes it eight straight years with a club title for the seven-time Super Rugby champion, currently on a three-year deal with the Tokyo club.

Making the feat even more impressive is the perfect record of their final opponents in the 2023/24 season. The Panasonic Wild Knights, boasting premier talents from Japan, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, won all 16 of their games in the group stages, including dispatching Toshiba 36-24 in March.

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Mo’unga began his post-match interview by acknowledging his opponents.

“First and foremost I just want to thank Panasonic for an awesome match tonight,” the playmaker said on the broadcast. “You guys have been the standout and the benchmark of this competition. You are an awesome team and we thank you for the competition. You really brought out the best in us tonight.”

Having further cemented his status as one of rugby’s greatest-ever club players, Mo’unga knows better than anyone what it takes to lift the silverware at the end of the season.

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“Toshiba’s an awesome club, with people who just really care about the organisation and a lot of hard work goes into putting this rugby team out there and full credit to everyone at this club, a club that wanted this championship so bad and I’m glad to have been part of it and experience this with the boys today.

“I’m just over the moon, I’m just happy. To see the work that these boys have put in throughout the whole year, to have a vision at the start of the year and to love it out and for it to come to fruition tonight is really unbelievable, that’s why we play the game of rugby, for moments like this and I’m glad I can taste it here in Japan with Toshiba today.”

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With the match serving as a final outing for iconic hooker Shota Horie, Mo’unga again acknowledged his competitors and the legacy of one of Japan’s finest.

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“As I said, Panasonic have been heavyweights of this competition for a long time and we knew it was going to be a huge challenge facing these guys, they’re a well-oiled machine, well coached, and have X-factor right across the park.

“And to (Shota) Horie san, in my short time here I’ve known that you’ve given a lot to Japan rugby and Panasonic. It’s going to be sad for a lot of people in the stands to see you leave. But you’re leaving as a legend and someone who’s put Japanese rugby in a better place, so arigato gozaimasu (thank you).”

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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