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What to watch in men’s rugby: Titles to be decided in Tokyo and London

By Martyn Thomas
KUMAGAYA, JAPAN - JANUARY 06: Damian de Allende of Panasonic Wild Knights tackled by Shuhei Yamaguchi of Toyota Verblitz during the NTT Japan Rugby League One match between Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights and Toyota Verblitz at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium on January 06, 2024 in Kumagaya, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)

Silverware will be handed out in Tokyo and London this weekend, and RugbyPass TV will be there every step of the way.

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Tokyo plays host to what should be an exciting conclusion to the Japan Rugby League One season with Yokohama Canon Eagles and Tokyo Sungoliath competing for bronze on Saturday before Saitama Wild Knights face Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo in Sunday’s Grand Final.

In London, meanwhile, Leinster and Toulouse – each competing in a record eighth final – will bring the curtain down on a brilliant Investec Champions Cup season at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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But the Champions Cup final is not the only show in town on Saturday, as the LIT7s London 7s takes place a few miles south, at the home of AFC Wimbledon.

All of that action and more will be available to steam live and for free on RugbyPass TV. We give you the details below.

Undefeated Wild Knights meet Brave Lupus

Saitama Wild Knights will aim to complete an unbeaten season on Sunday as they take on Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo in the Japan Rugby League One Grand Final at the Japan National Stadium.

Robbie Deans’ side won 16 out of 16 regular season matches to set up a semi-final against Yokohama Canon Eagles last weekend that they held on to win 20-17.

Damian de Allende scored the match-winning try midway through the second half at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium and the two-time Men’s Rugby World Cup winner will be keen to help his club side to a second League One title in three years on Sunday.

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Fixture
Japan Rugby League One
Saitama Wild Knights
20 - 24
Full-time
Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo
All Stats and Data

De Allende is part of a star-studded Wild Knights squad that also includes fellow Springbok Lood de Jager, Australia winger Marika Koroibete and Japan hooker Shota Horie, who is set to hang up his boots following the final.

However, the 2022 champions will not have it all their own way in Tokyo this Sunday, coming up against a Brave Lupus side that contains the mercurial talents of Richie Mo’unga and are led by former Japan captain Michael Leitch.

Mo’unga has been in imperious form for Brave Lupus this year, leading the team to 14 regular season wins and sparking talk of an early return to New Zealand and the All Blacks.

But for now, his focus will be set firmly on Sunday’s final and delivering a first Japanese title for Todd Blackadder’s side since 2010.

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If the prospect of watching some of the world’s best players go head-to-head on Sunday is not enough, RugbyPass TV will also be streaming Saturday’s bronze final.

Last weekend’s beaten semi-finalists, Yokohama Canon Eagles and Tokyo Sungoliath will raise the curtain on finals weekend at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.

Jesse Kriel and Cheslin Kolbe are among the players who will add more than a sprinkle of star dust to the third-place play-off, which will take place a short stroll from the National Stadium.

Both matches will be available to stream worldwide, except for in Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia and Africa.

Saturday, 25 May

04:05 BST (GMT+1) – Yokohama Canon Eagles v Tokyo Sungoliath, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium – WATCH LIVE

Sunday, 26 May

07:05 BST (GMT+1) – Saitama Wild Knights v Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo, Japan National Stadium – WATCH LIVE

London to host heavyweight Champions Cup final

The two most successful clubs in the history of the Investec Champions Cup will meet in Saturday’s final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but only one can prevail.

In the red and black corner stand Toulouse, whose five Heineken/Champions Cup triumphs put them one clear of their opponents in the blue corner, Leinster.

Fixture
Investec Champions Cup
Leinster
22 - 31
Full-time
Toulouse
All Stats and Data

Toulouse booked their place in this weekend’s showpiece match in north London with a seesaw 38-26 victory against Harlequins earlier this month.

Star scrum-half Antoine Dupont scored two of his side’s six tries in that semi-final win and he will hope to help his club to a sixth European crown as he attempts to complete a Champions Cup-Top 14 double before spearheading France’s Olympic challenge in July.

Leinster, meanwhile, were cheered on by the majority of an 82,300 crowd at Croke Park three weeks ago as they edged past Northampton Saints 20-17 and into an eighth European final.

The question for Leinster, coach Leo Cullen and his star-studded squad is whether they can overcome a recent run of defeats in the continent’s showpiece match.

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Having won their first four final appearances – in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018 – the Irish province were beaten by Saracens in 2019 and La Rochelle in both of the past two seasons.

Leinster lost to Ulster last weekend but Cullen – who has been assisted by Rugby World Cup winner Jacques Nienaber this season – is confident his side can win a first Champions Cup in six years this Saturday.

“Our game is completely different to what it would have been this time last year,” he said.

“It’s two good teams, two strong traditions in the competition. Hopefully it’ll be a great contest.”

The Champions Cup final is available to stream on RugbyPass TV in Japan, the Middle East and North Africa.

Saturday, 25 May

14:45 BST (GMT+1) – Leinster v Toulouse, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – WATCH LIVE

Wimbledon to be LIT up

This Saturday, AFC Wimbledon’s Cherry Red Records Stadium will play host to the LIT7s London 7s as elite rugby sevens returns to south-west London.

Featuring the best of elite men’s and women’s sevens, the tournament will be played over one day and feature a host of initiatives to keep fans at home and in the ground entertained.

On the pitch, the men’s open tournament will feature teams representing Great Britain, USA, Ireland, Germany, Jamaica and Uganda, the latter using their time in London as preparation for next month’s World Rugby Sevens Repechage.

Olympic royalty will also be in attendance as Tokyo 2020 gold medal-winning coach Gareth Baber, who led Fiji to the top step of the podium in Japan, takes charge of Shogun Rugby Club.

“LIT7s London 7s represents the opportunity for Shogun Rugby to challenge ourselves against strong competition,” Baber said.

“Given the quality level I am excited to see how we build towards the tournament and take on the challenge.”

The LIT7s London 7s will be available to stream live and for free worldwide on RugbyPass TV.

Saturday, 25 May

09:00 BST (GMT+1) – LIT7s London 7s, Cherry Red Records Stadium – WATCH LIVE

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