Japan showing the "future of rugby" to the world

Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

He’s the Aussie-born lock who is proud to call himself a Japanese rugby player and James Moore believes the Brave Blossoms have shown the world the future of rugby in its run to a World Cup quarter-final.

Moore, who only three years ago was playing club rugby with Brisbane’s Easts and studying architecture at university, said the team was incredibly proud of what they had achieved in the tournament.

Japan will face challenges in the next four years as it pushes to be included among the top tier of rugby nations and, critically, have the chance to play tier one nations more often than not.

A quick read of their tournament stats reflects their growing stature in the world.

Flyhalf Yu Tamura finished the World Cup as the leading points scorer to the end of the quarter-finals while winger Kotaro Matsushima sits on top of the tournament try-score tally, along with Welshman Josh Adams.

James Moore has been one of the most effective defenders in the World Cup. Photo: Getty ImagesMoore and flanker Pieter Labuschagne sit one and two in the tournament's tackle statistics with hooker Shota Horie sitting fifth.

Japan lead those tackling stats overall as well, with 668 tackles, ahead of Uruguay, Wales, Ireland and the USA.

Moore said this World Cup campaign showed they deserved to be counted among the tier one group.

“Definitely,” he said.

“I think rugby in Japan is just getting stronger.

“We've earned the right to be a top eight team, we've proved that this tournament and we're just going to keep on building from that.

“A lot of the core group from this World Cup is going to keep playing so we think we can just keep getting better.”

Apart from simply their results, the Brave Blossoms lit up the World Cup with their fast-paced attack and gritty defence and Moore said their patterns forced the red of the world to take note.

Japan assistant Tony Brown has been a major influence on their playing style. Photo: Getty Images“Yep, I think we really, the way we're playing the game at the moment, Tony Brown and Jamie Joseph's game plan it's the future of rugby,” he said.

“It's exciting to watch, it works, I think it's the future of rugby, so other teams will definitely be looking at what we're doing, especially in attack, yeah.”

For Moore, Japanese rugby has given him a chance to be a professional rugby career and it’s one for which he says he’ll always be grateful.

“It's given me an opportunity,” he said.

“I didn't get opportunities in Australia so they gave me an opportunity to be the best I can be and I'm just loving my time in Japan. I really love Japan, I call myself a Japanese rugby player now so I'm really proud.”

Moore has been in Japan for three years now, playing Super Rugby with the Sunwolves and playing for Top League side the Toshiba Brave Lupus.

The Brisbane State High School graduate debuted for Japan in July and has gone from strength to strength this tournament and cemented himself as a regular second row starter.

Japan coach Jamie Joseph reserved special praise for Moore post-match after his transformation from club rugby player to international regular.

Moore has no plans to return to Australia any time soon as he prepares to let the “surreal” experience of the past month sink in.

“It's my home, I live here,” he said.

“This World Cup it's just been surreal, going to have to take a while just to reflect on it because it's all gone really quick and just been an absolute dream so just take some time to reflect on what's happened.”