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Japan - National championship

Overview Honours Roll Team appearances Related trophies Sources Current Season


It is the highest level of rugby competition in Japan. It is an empresarial championship as all teams are owned by big japanese enterprises.
Until 2003 it was played with regional qualifiers and national finals. In 2003 Top League was created for a better developing of japanese rugby.
In the first 3 Top League season, the winner was the team best placed in the table after regular season and was then played a knock-out competition (Microsoft Cup) among the eight best teams.
Since 2006/07 playoffs are played at the end of the season to decide the champion.

The league pyramid

The last reform of the league pyramid was in 2017. Since 2017/18 season the league structure is the following:

Level 1 Top League
16 teams - 3 teams to relegation playout and 1 relegation
Level 2 Top Challenge League
8 teams - 1 promotion, 3 teams to promotion playoff, 1 team to relegation playout and 1 relegation
Level 3 West Regional Top League A
1 team to Regional Challenge
East Regional Top League A
1 team to Regional Challenge
Kyushu Regional Top League A
1 team to Regional Challenge
Level 4 West Regional Top League B
East Regional Top League B
Kyushu Regional Top League B

Team appearances

Top League Top Challenge League
Kobelco Steelers 17 2003/04 2019/20
NEC Green Rockets 17 2003/04 2019/20
Panasonic Wild Knights 17 2003/04 2019/20
Suntory Sungoliath 17 2003/04 2019/20
Toshiba Brave Lupus 17 2003/04 2019/20
Yamaha Jubilo 17 2003/04 2019/20
Ricoh Black Rams 16 2003/04 2019/20
Toyota Verblitz 16 2004/05 2019/20
Kubota Spears 15 2003/04 2019/20
Munakata Sanix Blues 14 2003/04 2019/20
Coca-Cola West Red Sparks 12 2006/07 2018/19
Kintetsu Liners 12 2003/04 2017/18
NTT Shining Arcs 10 2010/11 2019/20
Canon Eagles 8 2012/13 2019/20
NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes 7 2011/12 2019/20
Toyota Shokki Shuttles 7 2010/11 2018/19
Honda Heat 6 2009/10 2019/20
Kyuden Voltex 5 2007/08 2013/14
IBM Big Blue 4 2004/05 2008/09
World Fighting Bull 4 2003/04 2006/07
Secom Rugguts 3 2003/04 2006/07
Mitsubishi Dynaboars 2 2007/08 2019/20
Red Dolphins Hino 2 2018/19 2019/20
Yokogawa Musashino Atlastars 1 2008/09 2008/09
TeamTeam appearancesFirst
Kamaishi Sea Waves 3 2017/18 2019/20
Kyuden Voltex 3 2017/18 2019/20
Mazda Blue Zoomers 3 2017/18 2019/20
Chugoku Electric Power 2 2017/18 2018/19
Kintetsu Liners 2 2018/19 2019/20
Kurita Water 2 2018/19 2019/20
Mitsubishi Dynaboars 2 2017/18 2018/19
Chubu Electric Power 1 2017/18 2017/18
Coca-Cola West Red Sparks 1 2019/20 2019/20
Honda Heat 1 2017/18 2017/18
NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes 1 2018/19 2018/19
Red Dolphins Hino 1 2017/18 2017/18
Shimizu Blue Sharks 1 2019/20 2019/20
Toyota Shokki Shuttles 1 2019/20 2019/20

Related trophies

Pre Season League
Season:WinnersRunners upFormatResult
2015/16-2015Kobelco Steelers (1)Suntory SungoliathFinal27-24
TeamTitlesRunners up
Kobelco Steelers10
Suntory Sungoliath01
Microsoft Cup
Companies National Tournament
Season:WinnersRunners upFormatResult
2002/03Suntory Sungoliath (3)Toshiba Brave LupusFinal38-25
2001/02Suntory Sungoliath (2)Kobelco SteelersFinal50-31
2000/01Kobelco Steelers (9)Toyota VerblitzFinal29-26
1999/00Kobelco Steelers (8)World Fighting BullFinal35-26
1998/99Toyota Verblitz (5)Suntory SungoliathFinal28-27
1997/98Toshiba Brave Lupus (3)Suntory SungoliathFinal14-6
1996/97Toshiba Brave Lupus (2)Sanyo Wild KnightsFinal36-21
1995/96Suntory Sungoliath (1)Sanyo Wild KnightsFinal27-27
1994/95Kobelco Steelers (7)Toshiba Brave LupusFinal37-14
1993/94Kobelco Steelers (6)Sanyo Wild KnightsFinal18-3
1992/93Kobelco Steelers (5)Toshiba Brave LupusFinal20-19
1991/92Kobelco Steelers (4)Sanyo Wild KnightsFinal24-15
1990/91Kobelco Steelers (3)Sanyo Wild KnightsFinal18-16
1989/90Kobelco Steelers (2)Suntory SungoliathFinal28-15
1988/89Kobelco Steelers (1)Toshiba Brave LupusFinal23-9
1987/88Toshiba Brave Lupus (1)Toyota VerblitzFinal13-6
1986/87Toyota Verblitz (4)Nippon Steel KamaishiFinal19-6
1985/86Toyota Verblitz (3)Kobelco SteelersFinal19-7
1984/85Nippon Steel Kamaishi (9)Kobelco SteelersFinal22-0
1983/84Nippon Steel Kamaishi (8)Toshiba Brave LupusFinal31-0
1982/83Nippon Steel Kamaishi (7)Toyota VerblitzFinal16-0
1981/82Nippon Steel Kamaishi (6)Toyota VerblitzFinal19-0
1980/81Nippon Steel Kamaishi (5)Sanyo Wild KnightsFinal31-15
1979/80Nippon Steel Kamaishi (4)Sanyo Wild KnightsFinal27-13
1978/79Nippon Steel Kamaishi (3)Mitsubishi Red EvolutionsFinal15-3
1977/78Toyota Verblitz (2)Sanyo Wild KnightsFinal19-15
1976/77Nippon Steel Kamaishi (2)Toyota VerblitzFinal27-3
1975/76Mitsubishi Red Evolutions (2)Sanyo Wild KnightsFinal17-10
1974/75Kintetsu Liners (7)Ricoh Black RamsFinal10-7
1973/74Ricoh Black Rams (2)Kintetsu LinersFinal4-3
1972/73Ricoh Black Rams (1)Mitsubishi Red EvolutionsFinal29-3
1971/72Mitsubishi Red Evolutions (1)Ricoh Black RamsFinal22-11
1970/71Nippon Steel Kamaishi (1)Ricoh Black RamsFinal6-6
1969/70Kintetsu Liners (6)Toyota VerblitzFinal17-8
1968/69Toyota Verblitz (1)Nippon Steel YawataFinal19-13
1967/68Kintetsu Liners (5)Toyota VerblitzFinal6-5
1966/67Kintetsu Liners (4)Toyota VerblitzFinal15-3
1965/66Nippon Steel Yawata (12)Kintetsu LinersFinal8-3
1964/65Nippon Steel Yawata (11)Toyota VerblitzFinal25-3
1963/64Nippon Steel Yawata (10)Kintetsu LinersFinal16-3
1962/63Nippon Steel Yawata (9)Tanifuji Machine IndustriesFinal19-3
1961/62Kintetsu Liners (3)Nippon Steel YawataFinal6-5
1960/61Nippon Steel Yawata (8)Kintetsu LinersFinal13-0
1959/60Nippon Steel Yawata (7)Kintetsu LinersFinal13-8
1958/59Nippon Steel Yawata (6)Kintetsu LinersFinal9-0
1957/58Kintetsu Liners (2)Kyoto CityFinal12-3
1956/57Kintetsu Liners (1)Kyuden VoltexFinal11-0
1955/56Nippon Steel Yawata (5)Kintetsu LinersFinal24-5
1954/55Nippon Steel Yawata (4)DaieiFinal19-0
1953/54Kyuden Voltex (1)Kintetsu LinersFinal3-3
1952/53Nippon Steel Yawata (3)Kawasaki Heavy IndustriesFinal15-6
1951/52Nippon Steel Yawata (2)Kintetsu LinersFinal11-3
1950/51Nippon Steel Yawata (1)Toyota VerblitzFinal32-0
1949/50Mitsui Chemicals (1)Sumimoto Ponbetsu Coal MineFinal39-0
1948/49Kotobank (1)Kintetsu LinersFinal57-3
Kansai League
Season:WinnersRunners upFormatResult
2002/03Yamaha Jubilo (1)World Fighting BullRound Robin 
2001/02Kobelco Steelers (12)Yamaha JubiloRound Robin 
2000/01Toyota Verblitz (15)Kobelco SteelersRound Robin 
1999/00Toyota Verblitz (14)Kobelco SteelersRound Robin 
1998/99Kobelco Steelers (11)
Toyota Verblitz (13)
 Round Robin 
1997/98Kobelco Steelers (10)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1996/97Kobelco Steelers (9)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1995/96Toyota Verblitz (12)Kobelco SteelersRound Robin 
1994/95World Fighting Bull (1)Kobelco SteelersRound Robin 
1993/94Kobelco Steelers (8)World Fighting BullRound Robin 
1992/93Kobelco Steelers (7)Honda HeatRound Robin 
1991/92Kobelco Steelers (6)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1990/91Kobelco Steelers (5)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1989/90Kobelco Steelers (4)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1988/89Kintetsu Liners (17)Kobelco SteelersRound Robin 
1987/88Toyota Verblitz (11)Kobelco SteelersRound Robin 
1986/87Kobelco Steelers (3)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1985/86Toyota Verblitz (10)Kobelco SteelersRound Robin 
1984/85Kobelco Steelers (2)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1983/84Kobelco Steelers (1)
Toyota Verblitz (9)
Osaka Police (2)
 Round Robin 
1982/83Toyota Verblitz (8)
Osaka Police (1)
 Round Robin 
1981/82Toyota Verblitz (7)Kobelco SteelersRound Robin 
1980/81Toyota Verblitz (6)Kintetsu LinersRound Robin 
1979/80Toyota Verblitz (5)Osaka PoliceRound Robin 
1978/79Toyota Verblitz (4)
Mitsubishi Red Evolutions (3)
 Round Robin 
1977/78Kintetsu Liners (16)
Toyota Verblitz (3)
 Round Robin 
1976/77Toyota Verblitz (2)Kintetsu LinersRound Robin 
1975/76Mitsubishi Red Evolutions (2)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1974/75Kintetsu Liners (15)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1973/74Kintetsu Liners (14)Kyoto CityRound Robin 
1972/73Kintetsu Liners (13)Kyoto CityRound Robin 
1971/72Kintetsu Liners (12)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1970/71Toyota Verblitz (1)
Mitsubishi Red Evolutions (1)
 Round Robin 
1969/70Kyoto City (2)Toyota VerblitzRound Robin 
1968/69Kintetsu Liners (11)Kyoto CityRound Robin 
1967/68Kintetsu Liners (10)
Kyoto City (1)
 Round Robin 
1966/67Kintetsu Liners (9)Mitsubishi Red EvolutionsRound Robin 
1965/66Kintetsu Liners (8)Osaka PoliceRound Robin 
1964/65Kintetsu Liners (7)Kyoto CityRound Robin 
1963/64Kintetsu Liners (6)Central ArmyRound Robin 
1962/63Kintetsu Liners (5)Osaka PoliceRound Robin 
1961/62Kintetsu Liners (4)Osaka PoliceRound Robin 
1960/61Kintetsu Liners (3)Osaka PoliceRound Robin 
1959/60Kintetsu Liners (2)Osaka PoliceRound Robin 
1958/59Kintetsu Liners (1)Kyoto CityRound Robin 
Kanto League
Season:WinnersRunners upFormatResult
2002/03Suntory Sungoliath (6)Toshiba Brave LupusRound Robin 
2001/02Suntory Sungoliath (5)NEC Green RocketsRound Robin 
2000/01Suntory Sungoliath (4)NEC Green RocketsRound Robin 
1999/00Toshiba Brave Lupus (4)NEC Green RocketsRound Robin 
1998/99Sanyo Wild Knights (7)
Suntory Sungoliath (3)
 Round Robin 
1997/98Suntory Sungoliath (2)
Toshiba Brave Lupus (3)
 Round Robin 
1996/97Toshiba Brave Lupus (2)Sanyo Wild KnightsRound Robin 
1995/96Sanyo Wild Knights (6)Toshiba Brave LupusRound Robin 
1994/95Sanyo Wild Knights (5)Toshiba Brave LupusRound Robin 
1993/94Toshiba Brave Lupus (1)Ricoh Black RamsRound Robin 
1992/93Sanyo Wild Knights (4)
Ricoh Black Rams (1)
 Round Robin 
1991/92Sanyo Wild Knights (3)Toshiba Brave LupusRound Robin 
1990/91Sanyo Wild Knights (2)Ricoh Black RamsRound Robin 
1989/90Suntory Sungoliath (1)Sanyo Wild KnightsRound Robin 
1988/89Sanyo Wild Knights (1)Nippon Steel KamaishiRound Robin 
Kyushu League
Season:WinnersRunners upFormatResult
2002/03Fukuoka Sanix Blues (4)Kyuden VoltexRound Robin 
2001/02Fukuoka Sanix Blues (3)Kyuden VoltexRound Robin 
2000/01Fukuoka Sanix Blues (2)Kyuden VoltexRound Robin 
1999/00Fukuoka Sanix Blues (1)Kyuden VoltexRound Robin 
1998/99Mazda Blue Zoomers (8)NikoNiko-DoRound Robin 
1997/98Nisshin Steel (7)Mazda Blue ZoomersRound Robin 
1996/97Mazda Blue Zoomers (7)Nisshin SteelRound Robin 
1995/96Mazda Blue Zoomers (6)Nisshin SteelRound Robin 
1994/95Nisshin Steel (6)Mazda Blue ZoomersRound Robin 
1993/94Mazda Blue Zoomers (5)Nisshin SteelRound Robin 
1992/93Nisshin Steel (5)Kyuden VoltexRound Robin 
1991/92Mazda Blue Zoomers (4)Kyuden VoltexRound Robin 
1990/91Kyuden Voltex (7)Mazda Blue ZoomersRound Robin 
1989/90Kyuden Voltex (6)Mitsubishi Heavy IndustriesRound Robin 
1988/89Kyuden Voltex (5)Nisshin SteelRound Robin 
1987/88Kyuden Voltex (4)
Mazda Blue Zoomers (3)
 Round Robin 
1986/87Nisshin Steel (4)Mazda Blue ZoomersRound Robin 
1985/86Nisshin Steel (3)Mazda Blue ZoomersRound Robin 
1984/85Kyuden Voltex (3)Nisshin SteelRound Robin 
1983/84Mazda Blue Zoomers (2)
Nisshin Steel (2)
 Round Robin 
1982/83Kyuden Voltex (2)Nisshin SteelRound Robin 
1981/82Kyuden Voltex (1)
Nisshin Steel (1)
 Round Robin 
1980/81Nippon Steel Yawata (6)Mitsubishi Heavy IndustriesRound Robin 
1979/80Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (2)Kyuden VoltexRound Robin 
1978/79Nippon Steel Yawata (5)Mitsubishi Heavy IndustriesRound Robin 
1977/78Nippon Steel Yawata (4)Kyuden VoltexRound Robin 
1976/77Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (1)Nippon Steel YawataRound Robin 
1975/76Nippon Steel Yawata (3)Coca-Cola West Red SparksRound Robin 
1974/75Yodogawa Steel Works (1)Nippon Steel YawataRound Robin 
1973/74Nippon Steel Yawata (2)Mazda Blue ZoomersRound Robin 
1972/73Mazda Blue Zoomers (1)
Nippon Steel Yawata (1)
Western Army (1)
 Round Robin 


jrfu.org - Japanese union official site.
www.top-league.jp - Top League official site.
www.japonrugby.net - Site about japanese rugby.
www.rugby-kansai.or.jp - Kansai regional union official site.
www.rugby.or.jp - Eastern regional union official site.
www.rugby-kyushu.jp - Kyushu regional union official site.
ja.wikipedia.org/wikii/日本のラグビーユニオン - Wikipedia pages about rugby in Japan.
Every site was scanned using also web.archive.org