Japanese University Cup kicks off

Saturday, October 09 2004 @ 10:34 pm ACST

Contributed by: Aaron Richard

Tokyo's new university league kicked off on September 26th, with a rookie-heavy Komazawa defeating the more highly-fancied Senshu.

The Senshu side featured a number of players who had represented the Japanese national side, inlcuding Taishi Tsukaigoshi, who also played football on scholarship in Melbourne with VAFA club Box Hill North in 2003. In contrast, the Komazawa side had only a few players with long-time experience, although first-year players including ruckman Takamiya impressed and steered Komazawa to a 99-67 victory.

Created this year as a feeder competition for the University Samurais in the AFL Japan, the 2004 university league will be a three-way series between Senshu, Komazawa and a composite side formed from students at other universities competing as the Uni Blues.

National coach Troy Beard was excited by the prospect of the University league becoming a solid part of the Japanese Aussie Rules community. "We approached the universities directly with the idea of the university league - Part of the reason we're doing it is that players numbers for the University Samurai have been steadily growing and we'd end up with a situation where heaps of guys were missing out of a game. This way new players can get experience playing in the uni league and aspire to playing for the Samurai in the AFL Japan".

The AFL Japan has six full-fledged senior sides competing in the 2004 premiership, with interest in forming further clubs in the Tokyo and Osaka areas looking set to see expansion continue in the near future.

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