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Japan vs England LIVE rugby: Result and reaction as Marcus Smith inspires big win in Tokyo

(REUTERS)


 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

England kicked off their summer tour with an eight-try thrashing of Japan in Tokyo as they tuned up for two Tests against the All Blacks.

Steve Borthwick’s side head south for a two-Test tour of New Zealand at the start of July, and the England head coach will have been pleased with how his side accelerated away after a sticky start on a hot and humid afternoon. After holding firm defensively despite a fast Japanese start, Marcus Smith and Henry Slade pulled the strings nicely at the Japan National Stadium as England showed off their attacking array to take control of the contest.

Four first-half tries were followed by scores after interval from Alex Mitchell, Ben Earl, Harry Randall and Sam Underhill, though England’s win was somewhat marred by the sending off of Charlie Ewels late on. The lock was making his first international appearance since being red carded at Twickenham against Ireland during the 2022 Six Nations but flew in dangerously on Japan captain Michael Leitch at a ruck to potentially end his tour.

The Ewels incident came amid Japan’s brightest spell as lock Warner Dearns created two excellent tries, but it is England who emerged as sizeable winners to take confidence into their first clash with the All Blacks in a fortnight.

Re-live all of the action from the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo below:

England vs Japan – live updates

  • FT: Japan 17-52 England – eight-try visitors put hosts to the sword in Tokyo

  • TRY! JAPAN 17-45 England (Takuya Yamasawa, 68 minutes)

  • TRY! JAPAN 10-45 England (Koga Nezuka, 66 minutes)

  • TRY! Japan 3-45 ENGLAND (Harry Randall try, 58 minutes)

  • TRY! Japan 3-38 ENGLAND (Ben Earl try, 50 minutes)

  • TRY! Japan 3-33 ENGLAND (Alex Mitchell try, 43 minutes)

  • HT: Japan 3-26 England

  • TRY! Japan 3-26 ENGLAND (Henry Slade try, 42 minutes)

  • TRY! Japan 3-21 ENGLAND (Immanuel Feyi-Waboso try, 29 minutes)

  • TRY! Japan 3-14 ENGLAND (Marcus Smith try, 24 minutes)

  • TRY! Japan 3-7 ENGLAND (Chandler Cunningham-South try, 14 minutes)

  • KICK OFF!

Eddie Jones on Japan’s defeat

09:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“It was a pretty tough game for us today. England are a strong, powerful team, but I was really pleased with our set piece work. We’ve been working on little things in our attack which created opportunities, but we weren’t able to finish them.

“We wanted to move the ball quickly, and to do that starts with our set piece where we showed some improvement today. Our movement around the ball is still not sharp enough. But for those eight [new] players to play in front of a fantastic crowd, it shows really strong potential for Japanese rugby.”

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

And England head coach Steve Borthwick has his say, too

09:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“The application of the players was really excellent. Clearly late in the game our cohesion broke up a little against a fast and skillful Japanese team who took their chances really well.

“I thought the ball movement of the Japanese team was excellent. You can tell that team is going to grow and be very dangerous. We had to defend really well to keep them out.”

Jamie George reacts to England’s victory

09:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“I thought it was a really tough game. The conditions were very difficult, so I’m very proud about the way we went about our business. It was always going to be difficult to come over here and get a result, so we are happy with that.

“They are a fantastic team. We knew they were going to be very well drilled – we know Eddie well and have huge respect for him as a coach.

“I think it probably took us a little while to get used to the conditions, but we were really efficient with the ball. We’ve got some really talented backs with speed and we managed to show that today.”

FT: Japan 17-52 England

08:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A big win for England, then, though that late Charlie Ewels dismissal does somewhat mar an otherwise very encouraging day. After a sticky start in the heat and humidty, Steve Borthwick’s side accelerated away, with Marcus Smith and Henry Slade influential and their pack on top in close contact.

Japan stayed in the fight, though, and got some of the rewards they merited late on with lock Warner Dearns creating two lovely tries. For a young side, there will be plenty of learnings, too – as I’m sure Eddie Jones will underline when he speaks a little later.

FULL TIME! Japan 17-52 England

08:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

Japan 17-52 England, 80 minutes

08:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England have got funky: Ben Earl is now stationed at 12, Henry Slade at 13 and Ollie Lawrence out on the wing. The latter is the target of a Fin Smith cross kick, but can’t gather as he slides towards the line. And that’ll be that!

RED CARD! Charlie Ewels is sent off! Japan 17-52 England, 78 minutes

08:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“High degree of danger, no mitigation” – Charlie Ewels’ yellow card is upgraded to red! Two years after his last Test against Ireland at Twickenham was ended inside a few minutes after being sent off for a high tackle, Ewels is dismissed again on his international return – and that may be his tour over.

TRY! Japan 17-52 ENGLAND (Sam Underhill try, 76 minutes)

08:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England hit a half-century!

Sam Underhill wins a breakdown penalty and gets immediate reward, riding a fast-moving chariot to the line as England maul strongly. Henry Slade converts.

Japan 17-45 England, 75 minutes

08:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Michael Leitch was lucky there that he managed to just jump back at the right time, lifting his studs out of the surface and avoiding serious injury (you’d hope) as a result. The veteran looks tired but is involved heavily as Japan just do enough to keep Tom Roebuck out on the right.

YELLOW CARD AND OFF FOR REVIEW! Japan 17-45 England, 72 minutes

08:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A dangerous clearout targeting a lower limb – the French officials conclude it meets the yellow card threshold and Charlie Ewels will play no further part. The bunker official will decide if it stays yellow or is upgraded to red.

Japan 17-45 England, 72 minutes

08:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England have just lost control of the contest a bit in the last ten minutes, and Maro Itoje (captaining with Jamie George off) gathers his side for a chat. An offside penalty earns them territory but Charlie Ewels flies in to a ruck entirely out of control and is rightly penalised.

Michael Leitch is a little sore after Ewels’ blast. Two medics help him up but TMO Eric Gauzins wants a look at the contact.

TRY! JAPAN 17-45 England (Takuya Yamasawa, 68 minutes)

08:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Warner Dearns is at it again!

Stop that! The lock is some talent, big, quick, skillful, and this is a remarkable assist for replacement full-back Takuya Tamasawa. Dearns takes an errant pass with his fingertips and dances past Maro Itoje, accelerating up to speed. The lock stomps through Tokyo like Godzilla but has the calmness to draw the final defender and send his team mate in under the sticks. Magnificent!

TRY! JAPAN 10-45 England (Koga Nezuka, 66 minutes)

08:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A deserved Japan try!

What work From Kai Yamamoto in the build-up! Dynamite footwork from the replacement flanker take him past two would-be England tacklers and through a soft-chested Fin Smith, breaking the defensive line. Warner Dearns ensures that this chance is taken, showing off good touch for a (very) big man to tee up wing Koga Nezuka.

Japan 3-45 England, 65 minutes

08:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Japan tap and go and then turn Tommy Freeman, who does rather well to escape three defenders with secure possession. Randall clears.

England are restored to 15 players, but Marcus Smith will not be returning: Fin Smith replaces him, and Charlie Ewels is on in the second row, too.

Japan 3-45 England, 64 minutes

08:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Superb from Shinobo Fujiwara! The scrum half is far from the biggest but that matters not when your ruck technique is that good, Will Stuart forced to hold on with Fujiwara like a barnacle atop the prone prop.

Japan tap quickly but Ben Earl intercepts on the right. That’s loose from Harry Randall, though, skewing his box kick more up than out – with no long box kick chaser to put them onside, a load of England forwards are offside and penalised.

Japan 3-45 England, 63 minutes

08:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

George Martin has an extended examination from a medic after coming up off the floor. with a sore shoulder. The lock has been good today, busy and brutal in contact, and looks healthy enough. He joins England’s attacking lineout five metres from the edge of Japan’s 22.

Japan 3-45 England, 61 minutes

08:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A debut for Tom Roebuck on the wing for England – the youngster has had two smashing seasons for Sale and trained the house down during the Six Nations, by all accounts. He didn’t earn an opportunity in that campaign but has 20 minutes to make an impact here.

TRY! Japan 3-45 ENGLAND (Harry Randall try, 58 minutes)

08:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And where the hosts are profligate, England are precise!

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso wins a high ball inside the Japan half and the visitors don’t look back. Lovely handling up the left affords Tommy Freeman a chance to stretch his legs, and then it is just about patience. Harry Randall picks his forward runners to create dents before zipping to the line when Japan overfold and leave space adjacent to the ruck.

Henry Slade takes over converting duties from the tee with Marcus Smith, using all of the permitted 60 seconds to drain time away with his fly half in the sin bin. Popped through.

Japan 3-38 England, 56 minutes

08:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ah, disappointing! Japan throw a five-metre lineout and begin to assemble the heavy mob for a shove to the line, but inaccurate handling in the transfer down sees the ball spilled.

A frustrating day so far for Eddie Jones’ young side.

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

YELLOW CARD! Marcus Smith is sent to the sin bin! Japan 3-38 England, 46 minutes

08:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Well well well. I think England are fortunate: Marcus Smith is sent to the sin bin, but there’s no penalty try with the officials deeming that Dan Cole (37, tighthead prop) might have caught Yoshitaka Yazaki (20, full-back) from several metres away. Yazaki had all of six metres to cover if he’d not been held back by Smith.

Still, England down to 14 for the next wee while. Can Japan pounce?

Penalty try?

08:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Yes, Marcus Smith has a hold of Yoshitaka Yazaki long before the full-back has the ball. It’ll be a yellow card at least…

Japan 3-38 England, 54 minutes

08:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Japan rally, and the crowd lift the volume. Michael Leitch’s every involvement draws a roar. England haul the hosts down just short of the line – was the tackle from Marcus Smith early? TMO Eric Gauzins calls down to the referee to saunter up to the screen for a gander…

Japan 3-38 England, 52 minutes

08:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A double switch for England, with both replacements back after a while away – Harry Randall returns to full international colours after a couple of years out of the picture, while Tom Curry has made a remarkable recovery from a major hip surgery after the World Cup to make it on tour. The Sale flanker played fewer than 40 minutes of the domestic season – can he work up to speed here ahead of the two Tests against the All Blacks to come?

Tom Curry is back for England (PA Wire)

Tom Curry is back for England (PA Wire)

TRY! Japan 3-38 ENGLAND (Ben Earl try, 50 minutes)

08:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ben Earl goes in untouched!

England are enjoying themselves here with Japan’s intensity starting to fade. Alex Mitchell again threatens the fringes and has the dexterity to reach over the top of a couple of defenders in contact, dropping a parcel over the fence that Earl gathers to ground.

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Japan 3-33 England, 48 minutes

08:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Theo Dan is out there at hooker for England, too, using that burst of pace he possesses to cause problems in the Japan 22. Dan Cole doesn’t have that, but does have plenty of size…is it enough to get to the line? Not quite, held up.

Back for a penalty. Dan will throw a lineout five metres out.

Japan 3-33 England, 46 minutes

08:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Sam Underhill wins a breakdown penalty with a textbook jackal technique.

Changes at prop for both sides, with the replacements vastly different in the experience stakes. Near-centurion Joe Marler is on at loosehead for England; debutant Keijiro Tamefusa replaces Shuhei Takeuchi at tighthead for Japan.

Japan 3-31 England

08:04 , Jack Rathborn

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

 (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

TRY! Japan 3-33 ENGLAND (Alex Mitchell try, 43 minutes)

08:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Now Alex Mitchell gets his try!

England’s carriers win the gainline and create soft patches around the ruck that the scrum half can explore. A dummy and a dart leave three Japan defenders grasping at one another as Mitchell hustles between them for a sharp sniping score. Marcus Smith converts.

Japan 3-26 England, 41 minutes

08:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Worrying for Japan – England unlock their defence instantly after the restart, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso using his eel-like abilities to slip in and out of contact. An inside ball to Alex Mitchell would have been a try-scoring pass if not for a blocking Japanese hand, but back for a penalty England come.

Second half…

08:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A few stern words from Eddie Jones in the Japan dressing room before he sent his side back out there. They will be disappointed to have not taken one of their early opportunities but for a side bedding in a number of new players, their attacking interplay has been really promising.

We’re ready to go again in Tokyo.

HT: Japan 3-26 England

07:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It took time for England to warm to their work but they’ll be very pleased with how that second quarter panned out, showing off their attacking game and defensive ferocity to take control in Tokyo. Japan began brightly, playing with speed and intelligence as their visitors battled for discipline, but a couple of early missed chances allowed England in. Tries for Chandler Cunningham-South, Marcus Smith, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Henry Slade – and the prospect of more to come after the interval.

HALF TIME: Japan 3-26 England

07:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

TRY! Japan 3-26 ENGLAND (Henry Slade try, 42 minutes)

07:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And England go down the tunnel with a try!

Eddie Jones will be furious – a horrible way for Japan to finish the half. They twice infringe as England work the phases, affording conjuror Marcus Smith the chance to reach into his bag of tricks. The fly half switches direction and waves his wand of a right boot through the back of the ball, sending it drifting delightfully out towards Henry Slade. Tomoki Osada scrambles across but is unable to touch the leaping centre, and a safe landing and grounding extend England’s half-time advantage.

Japan 3-21 England, 41 minutes

07:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The hooter sounds as Japan throw the lineout, but England are the ones who will get another chance. Their blitz defence works superbly as Immanuel Feyi-Waboso fires up into the passing lane to intercept.

Japan 3-21 England, 40 minutes

07:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

More good defensive work from Japan. Tomoki Osada soaks up Ollie Lawrrence’s size and allows Jone Naikabula to latch over the top, winning a jackal penalty.

Japan 3-21 England, 39 minutes

07:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Chandler Cunningham-South’s legs are excavated at the lineout, allowing England the chance to poke again into the corner. But Japan re-steel themselves and time a counter shove brilliantly to win back possession on the floor after England had driven to within a metre or two.

Japan 3-21 England, 37 minutes

07:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Tommy Freeman’s development over the last 12 months has been quite remarkable to watch. The Northampton wing was briefly in camp with England ahead of the World Cup but cut long before the tournament, yet now is just about the most complete back in the country. He produces another crunching hit on kick chase to earn a penalty – a reminder that he is England’s cover at outside centre today, and can also play full-back at a high level. That versatility is such a valuable commodity and Freeman has the full skillset to be an international star.

Japan 3-21 England, 35 minutes

07:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Malfunction at the junction as Henry Slade whips a pass in the direction of Tommy Freeman on the extreme left but fails to account for the arrival of Ollie Lawrence into the space between them. Lawrence, to be fair to him, almost gathers it anyway, but the ball does eventually hit the floor. Raised hands of apology all around.

Japan 3-21 England, 34 minutes

07:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another scrum penalty England’s way, with their front row starting to get the edge on that front. Dan Cole takes the back slaps, the 37-year-old tighthead surely on his final overseas excursion with this squad but still a vital cornerstone at the set piece.

England have begun to edge the set-piece battles in Tokyo (Getty Images)

England have begun to edge the set-piece battles in Tokyo (Getty Images)

Japan 3-21 England, 33 minutes

07:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A frisson of excitement around the Japan National Stadium as the hosts go over on the right, but Koga Nekuza is deemed to have spilled forward in contact in the build-up.

TRY! Japan 3-21 ENGLAND (Immanuel Feyi-Waboso try, 29 minutes)

07:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And England capitalise out wide!

The moment of confusion after loosehead Bevan Rodd took that quick tap condensed the Japanese defence, five men converging on the Sale front row and thus leaving space out wide. A penalty advantage allows England to explore it, and Marcus Smith turns provider with a beautifully judged arch of a pass that lands in the lap of Immanuel Feyi-Waboso. In he goes untouched;another Smith conversion means England are accelerating away.

Japan 3-14 England, 28 minutes

07:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A quick tap from Bevan Rodd! The prop seems confused himself as he decides to take a penalty five metres out from the Japan line, but it might just work…

Japan 3-14 England, 26 minutes

07:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wallop! Chandler Cunningham-South is some physical prospect, and absolutely ends a Japanese carrier, forcing a knock on with a picture perfect rib examination.

TRY! Japan 3-14 ENGLAND (Marcus Smith try, 24 minutes)

07:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A marvellous England score!

Oh, that really is quite lovely! An intricate move from a lineout is aided by two back rows in midfield, Sam Underhill providing inside threat after a superb Jamie George lineout throw beyond the back finds Ollie Lawrence, who flicks out the back with Ben Earl holding the defence on his own hard line.

That creates a chasm through which Marcus Smith can zip, and the fly half has the pace and poise to do the rest. Under the posts he scurries – England haven’t been at their best in this first half but that is a beaut!

Japan 3-7 England, 23 minutes

07:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England have plenty of crashing carriers of their own, as Ollie Lawrence shows, demolishing the chest of Tomoki Osada in a hard charge. Osada, somewhat understandably, fails to roll away. England advance from the penalty.

Japan 3-7 England, 21 minutes

07:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Japan are at it here, but just can’t quite keep their continuity at the key moments. A lovely bit of play from the halves sends Jone Naikabula rampaging up the right touchline. The wing is such a threat in the open field and darts in dangerously, but Marcus Smith gets contact on the ball as he’s bashed away, dislodging it just enough so it is sprung when Naikabula hits the deck.

Japan 3-7 England, 20 minutes

07:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Cunningham-South is ok to continue, taking up his place on the blindside of England’s defensive scrum. Japan try something fun in midfield but the connections between Tomoki Osada and Samisoni Tua aren’t clean.

Alex Mitchell boots upfield, but overcooks it – the right decision, just poor execution.

Japan 3-7 England, 19 minutes

07:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England try their own up-tempo beats, George Furbank and Alex Mitchell at the DJ decks and spinning something lively. Furbank jinks and finds his Northampton colleague with a clever pass, and Ben Earl might have been away had he been able to cling on to the scrum half’s inwards hurl. Slightly behind the number eight, but he’ll be disappointed not to have been able to hold it.

This is a worry, thouhg, for England – Chandler Cunningham-South is down in back play and receiving treatment. The referee uses the opportunity to call for a water break in the sweltering summer sun.

Japan 3-7 England, 17 minutes

07:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A bouncing ball causes Immanuel Feyi-Waboso some difficulty, the young Exeter wing grappling for it as it pitches and pops randomly around his own 22. No harm done, in the end, and Feyi-Waboso then makes an impact defensively, biting ankles and leading a counter-ruck that is perhaps unfortunate not to bring reward in the form of a penalty.

Instead, the whistle goes the hosts way, with a quick tap again indicating their desire for speed.

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

TRY! Japan 3-7 ENGLAND (Chandler Cunningham-South try, 14 minutes)

07:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

First Test start, first Test try!

England strike! They keep things tight within sight of the Japan line, Jamie George making a punchy carry to take his side within a couple of metres. Ben Earl changes the point of contact with a deft flick to his back row colleague Chandler Cunningham-South, who uses his burl to get within reaching distance before extending a telescopic scoring arm.

Marcus Smith converts his Harlequins team mate’s score – England are up and running.

Japan 3-0 England, 12 minutes

07:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Those battles in the tight are developing intriguingly. England are again firm in their maul defencem whie Bevan Rodd gets into Shuhei Takeuchi to earn a scrum time penalty. This feels like a key day for Rodd, who has the chance to stake a claim to the starting loosehead shirt in the absence of the injured Ellis Genge.

Henry Slade finds the corner with his left boot.

Japan 3-0 England, 9 minutes

07:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Japan are over eager to put a shove in, but Henry Slade’s free kick misses touch, allowing the hosts to charge back. And Steve Borthwick’s side just can’t their discipline right – another whistle from referee Luc Ramos and they are pushed back on to their own goal line by a fine touchfinder from Seungsin Lee.

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Japan 3-0 England, 7 minutes

07:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Superb maul defence. Japan go to the tail and Maro Itoje can’t win it in the air, but the lock gets down to work, wiggling in like a wood weevil to dismantle the drive from the inside. George Martin gives him a healthy helping hand – maul collapsed legally, England’s scrum.

Japan 3-0 England, 6 minutes

06:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And England are in real strife, here. A third penalty inside six minutes with the forwards blowing in the heat and humidity. Seungsin Lee prods into the corner.

Japan 3-0 England, 5 minutes

06:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This is an excellent start from Japan othewise, though. A neat grubber connects with the outside backs and Samisoni Tua puts himself about with intent and intelligence twice, bumping off Marcus Smith. A thumping hit from Tommy Freeman stalls momentum briefly but still Japan come…

Japan 3-0 England, 4 minutes

06:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Bold – a quick tap just outside the Japan 22! Naoto Saito likes to up the tempo and urges his backline into action, though a long kick three passes later suggests that booting the penalty for touch might have been a better call.

Japan 3-0 England, 3 minutes

06:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That’s better from the visitors, getting after a stabby Marcus Smith restart and nearly latching on to it, Sam Underhill knocking on in the gather after a ricochet. A first scrum skirmish, then, with Japan relatively sizeable in the tight five…and the arm goes up their way! Bevan Rodd is penalised as he hits the deck almost immediately.

PENALTY! JAPAN 3-0 England (Seungsin Lee penalty, 2 minutes)

06:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A simple starter for Seungsin Lee and a tidy little start for Japan. They nudge in front.

Japan 0-0 England, 1 minute

06:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A nervy start for Chandler Cunningham-South, fumbling the first high ball but scrambling swiftly to get down on it. It went backwards, the officials rule, allowing Alex Mitchell to clear. Japan will launch the first attack off the top of a lineout.

And they’ll earn the game’s first penalty. A failure to vacate the ruck is pinged by referee Ramos – and Seungsin Lee gestures towards the posts.

KICK OFF!

06:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Referee Luc Ramos peeps his whistle, Seungin Lee hoists the opening kick off skywards and we are underway in Tokyo!

Japan vs England

06:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Out the players come, Japan in their red and white stripes, England in their change navy blue. Michael Leitch takes a moment to compose himself as he steps alongside Jamie George at the head of the lines – Eddie Jones has always gone out of his way to praise the leadership of a man so integral to Japan’s growth over the last decade. Can Leitch inspire another famous day for his side?

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Japan vs England

06:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Right, here we go. It’s scorchio at the National Stadium in Tokyo, but a good crowd have navigated up to Shinjuku to a ground built for the last Olympics.

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Team news – England

06:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

With George Ford absent due to injury, Marcus Smith is handed the reins at fly half for England. Harlequins teammate Chandler Cunningham-South is set for a first start on the blindside after impressing in a bench role during the Six Nations, while Sale wing Tom Roebuck is in line for a debut having been named as a replacement.

England XV: 1 Bevan Rodd, 2 Jamie George (c), 3 Dan Cole; 4 Maro Itoje, 5 George Martin; 6 Chandler Cunningham-South, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Ben Earl; 9 Alex Mitchell, 10 Marcus Smith; 11 Tommy Freeman, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 13 Henry Slade, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso; 15 George Furbank.

Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Tom Curry; 21 Harry Randall, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Tom Roebuck.

Team news – Japan

06:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Eddie Jones hands a debut to young full-back Yoshitaka Yazaki, who has impressed in university rugby but is yet to make an appearance at professional level. Veteran flanker Michael Leitch skippers a fresh-looking side as Japan begin to build again after a disappointing World Cup.

And breaking news of a last minute change: Dylan Riley has been ruled out. Samisoni Tua steps up into the starting side at outside centre and Takuya Yamasawa is brought on to the bench

Japan XV: 1 Takayoshi Mohara, 2 Mamoru Harada, 3 Shuhhei Takeuchi; 4 Sanaila Waqa, 5 Warner Dearns; 6 Michael Leitch (c), 7 Tiennan Costley, 8 Faulua Makisi; 9 Naoto Saito, 10 Seungsin Lee; 11 Koga Nezuka, 12 Tomoki Osada, 13 Samisoni Tua, 14 Jone Naikabula; 15 Yoshitaka Yazaki.

Replacements:16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Shogo Miura, 18 Keijiro Tamefusa, 19 Amanaki Saumaki, 20 Kai Yamamoto; 21 Shinobu Fujiwara, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Takuya Yamasawa.

Invaluable – Jamie George hoping ‘incredible’ Kevin Sinfield stays with England

06:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England captain Jamie George wants Kevin Sinfield to remain a part of Steve Borthwick’s coaching team beyond the current tour to Japan and New Zealand.

Sinfield is due to leave his role as skills and kicking coach this summer but it has emerged that he is rethinking his future as Borthwick explores the possibility of him staying with the Rugby Football Union.

The 43-year-old’s departure was announced in January after a year-long spell as defence coach that included the World Cup, but he is regarded by players as an important presence around the squad who should be retained.

“I couldn’t be keener for him to stay,” George told a press conference in Tokyo ahead of today’s clash with Japan.

Invaluable – Jamie George hoping ‘incredible’ Kevin Sinfield stays with England

Ben Youngs believes ‘very good coach’ Eddie Jones has a lot to offer Japan

06:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ben Youngs has warned England that Eddie Jones remains an elite coach whose second term with Japan will be driven by his recent failures.

Jones and Steve Borthwick will go head to head for the first time when the Australian and his former number two clash in the master and apprentice duel that underpins England’s tour opener in Tokyo on Saturday.

It has been just 18 months since Jones was sacked by the Rugby Football Union for a downturn in results, yet before returning to Japan he squeezed in a disastrous homecoming with the Wallabies that ended when they failed to emerge from the group stage of last autumn’s World Cup.

Ben Youngs believes ‘very good coach’ Eddie Jones has a lot to offer Japan

Eddie Jones sends England warning and reveals Japan’s danger man

06:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Eddie Jones has warned England they will be taken to the wire as Japan target a major upset in Saturday’s clash in Tokyo.

Jones’ second spell as Japan boss begins at the National Stadium where he is facing the side he coached for seven years until he was sacked in December 2022 because of a slump in results.

Adding further intrigue is that for the first time he will be coming up against Steve Borthwick, his former number two with both the Brave Blossoms and England who succeeded him at Twickenham.

Eddie Jones sends England warning and reveals Japan’s danger man

Japan vs England talking points: Hosts in rebuilding mode

06:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Japan field four debutants including a player who still turns out for his university side as they begin rebuilding for the 2027 World Cup. It was classic Jones picking Yoshitaka Yazaki at full-back even though he has yet to appear in a professional game, but the Australian is convinced the 20-year-old is ready for the step up. Japan intend playing fast and loose to suit their strengths and need to avoid an arm wrestle up front, especially with two of those debutants appearing in the front row.

Talking points as England kick off summer tour against Eddie Jones’ Japan

Japan vs England talking points: The indestructible man

05:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

When Tom Curry steps off the bench at National Stadium, it will complete a remarkable comeback for a player who has had just 34 minutes of action since last autumn’s World Cup. Curry underwent surgery to repair a career-threatening hip injury and despite the prognosis that he would not return until next season – if at all – he has shown remarkable powers of recovery to be involved on the summer tour. England will need his influence, especially in defence, if they are to topple the All Blacks.

 (PA)

(PA)

Japan vs England talking points: Marcus Smith’s time to shine

05:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

George Ford was masterful as England finished the Six Nations by finding their mojo against Ireland and France but with the veteran fly-half absent through injury, Marcus Smith will pull the strings against Japan. Smith has always been operating in the shadow of Ford or Owen Farrell but with both of them out of the picture, it is time for the Harlequins’ playmaker to prove he can provide the game management to match his creativity on the Test stage.

Marcus Smith starts at fly-half against Japan (PA Wire)

Marcus Smith starts at fly-half against Japan (PA Wire)

Japan vs England talking points: All Blacks curtain raiser

05:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Bigger tests than Japan await England on their summer tour and with New Zealand looming in a fortnight, Borthwick has selected a side that is close to first choice in the hope of building cohesion and momentum. The conditions in Tokyo and Dunedin – the setting for their first clash with the All Blacks – will be as different as the quality of the opposition, but a conclusive victory is still vital.

The All Blacks await for England (AFP via Getty Images)

The All Blacks await for England (AFP via Getty Images)

Japan vs England talking points: Master v apprentice

05:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Possibly more interesting than an encounter England should win comfortably is the sub plot of Eddie Jones’s first confrontation with his former employers and first head to head with Borthwick, his number two at Twickenham and during his first spell with the Brave Blossoms. It is a fascinating duel that pits veteran Jones against the man who he guided for the first seven years of his coaching career. Both will be desperate to win.

Former England coaching team Eddie Jones (right) and Steve Borthwick will go head to head (PA Archive)

Former England coaching team Eddie Jones (right) and Steve Borthwick will go head to head (PA Archive)

Five things to watch ahead of rugby’s summer kick-off

05:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s a busy day of rugby, with the United Rugby Championship, Super Rugby and Premiership Women’s Rugby finals to come alongside the start of the international summer. Wales, South Africa, Fiji and the Barbarians will all be out on the Twickenham turf a little later:

Five things to watch ahead of rugby’s summer kick-off

Eddie Jones’ mind games will not unsettle England against Japan – Jamie George

05:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Jamie George insisted England would not be unsettled by any mind games from Eddie Jones as they prepared to face their former head coach for the first time since he was sacked in 2022.

Jones’ seven-year Twickenham stewardship ended 18 months ago because of an ongoing decline in results and after a disastrous and short-lived stint with Australia, he was placed back in charge of Japan.

In Tokyo today, he will lock horns with his former number two Steve Borthwick in an intriguing sub-plot to the opening assignment of England’s summer tour, which also includes two matches against New Zealand.

Eddie Jones’ mind games will not unsettle England against Japan – Jamie George

Japan vs England

Friday 21 June 2024 14:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of Japan vs England in Tokyo. Steve Borthwick’s side return to action for the first time since a promising end to the Six Nations with an encounter with a familiar foe in former boss, and Borthwick’s mentor, Eddie Jones, back in charge of Japan after a disastrous stint with Australia.

England are en route to New Zealand ahead of a two-Test tussle with the All Blacks, but will not be taking their eye off the ball against a dangerous home side. It’s set to be hot, humid and high-tempo – can Jones conjure a shock against his former side?

Eddie Jones’ Japan take on England in Tokyo (PA Wire)

Eddie Jones’ Japan take on England in Tokyo (PA Wire)



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