Looking Back on the Successful 2023 Season of SHIMADZU Breakers Rugby Team!

SHIMADZU Breakers players

The SHIMADZU Breakers rugby team (hereinafter, “Breakers”) competed in the national playoff championship tournament for the first time by taking second place in the Top West A-League corporate rugby tournament held from September to November 2023.

This article reflects on the 2023 season that resulted in the Breakers first major accomplishment since the team was founded in 1988.


Second Place in the Top West A-League!

The Breakers compete in the Top West A-League, one of the premier corporate rugby leagues in Japan. Of the three A, B, and C Top West league divisions, the Breakers were promoted to the A division in 2016.

Last season, eight teams competed in the round-robin tournament that started on September 23, 2023. Then the top two teams from each of the three regional corporate leagues advanced to the national playoff championship (a tournament between first and second-place winners of the Top West, Top East, and Top Kyushu leagues).

In the first round, the Breakers, that achieved fourth place the previous year, started the tournament strong with a 17-8 win over the Daigas Struggers sponsored by Osaka Gas (fifth place the previous year). They went on to win all their matches in rounds 2 to 4 and faced the Osaka Prefectural Police team, that won the tournament the previous year, as the most important match.

With a large crowd of over 350 spectators gathered at Shimadzu’s home field, the Breakers were the first to score, but that was followed by a series of the opponent’s tries, ending the first half 15 points behind, trailing 6-21. Nevertheless, the Breakers did not give up in the second half and used their speed to bombard the opposing team with plays. That narrowed the lead to only 5 points with 8 minutes remaining. Then, just before the end of the match, the Breakers unleashed a series of attacks to score a tying try.

Despite the sense of tension in the air from knowing that a field goal would decide the winner, Kaito Nishimura successfully kicked a field goal from a very difficult position on the far-left side of the pitch to defeat the powerhouse Osaka Prefectural Police team for the first time since the team was formed.


Though the Breakers maintained their tournament lead with no losses, in the 6th round they narrowly lost 11-13 to Chubu Electric Power (second-place winner the previous year). In the final round on November 25, which would keep the Breaker’s chance of winning the tournament alive if they won, the Breakers outscored the JR West Railers 56-26. However, their overall record of 6 wins and 1 loss with 29 winning points tied the Osaka Prefectural Police, dropping the Breakers to second place due to the lower number of points scored. Though the Breakers sadly did not win the tournament, they did win a spot in the national playoff championship for the first time in 35 years since the team was founded.

Round Date Opponent Previous Year Stadium Score
1 Sep. 23 Daigas Struggers 5th place Shimadzu Corporation 17-8 win
2 Sep. 30 Unitika Phoenix 6th place Shimadzu Corporation 41-22 win
3 Oct. 14 Toyota Tsusho BLUE WING 7th place Shimadzu Corporation 49-12 win
4 Oct. 21 Kansai Maruwa Logistics Promoted from League B Shimadzu Corporation 21-3 win
5 Nov. 4 Osaka Prefectural Police 1st place Shimadzu Corporation 35-33 win
6 Nov. 12 Chubu Electric Power 2nd place Okazaki City Ryuhoku Play Ground 11-13 loss
7 Nov. 25 JR West Railers 3rd place JR West Kobe Sports Field 56-26 win

First Time in National Playoff Championship Tournament

The national playoff championship represents the pinnacle of corporate rugby, with a total of 6 teams, including the top 2 teams from the Top West, Top East, and Top Kyushu leagues, competing in a tournament format.

The Breakers’ first match was on December 24 at JAPAN BASE (Fukuoka Prefecture) and played against the LeRIRO Fukuoka, the top team from the Top Kyushu league. Playing in poor weather with a cold windy drizzle, the Breakers fought valiantly but lost 12-59 due to the powerful attacks from the opposing team that includes a member with experience playing on Japan’s national team.

Though the Breakers failed to achieve their first win in the national playoff championship, they fought hard to the end, never letting up on their determination to achieve victory based on their 2023 slogan “Attitude”.

Activities off the Pitch

In an effort to cultivate deeper roots in the home region, the Breakers are also involved in a variety of activities off the pitch intended to promote sports and contribute to regional society. For more information about recent activities, click here.

They also have been partnering with the tennis and baseball teams, which are also competing under the same name “SHIMADZU Breakers,” to engage in activities intended to promote employee health and exercise. One example is the Breakers Sports Festival 2023 held for the first time last year.

Trying Rugby at the Breakers Sports Festival 2023

Trying Rugby at the Breakers Sports Festival 2023

Comments from the General Manager

General Manager Tomonori Yamaguchi, who led the Breakers in 2023 to their best season thus far, offered the following reflections on the tournament.

I want to thank all the Breakers fans who supported the team throughout the 2023 season. The strong support and cheering from not only regional fans and REDWALL (the Breakers fans), but also the families of Breakers athletes and many fellow employees and colleagues provided a powerful boost for the team that enabled them to fight hard to the end and take second place in the Top West A League tournament.

In the tri-regional playoff tournament, we experienced a difficult game and realized how much better the team needed to be to win, so we ended the season with a new realization that there was still a lot of room for improvement.

For the 2024 season, we will focus on rebuilding our basic skills and improving our physicality and speed. Our goal is to conquer the Top West A League by deploying an ultra-fast style of rugby that is exciting to watch. Please continue to provide your passionate support. See you on the pitch.


Copy URLPage Title and URL Copied.