Keio win Japanese collegiate championship
January 17, 2000

The university that introduced rugby union to Japan via England's Cambridge University in 1899 celebrated its centenary season by winning the collegiate championship on Saturday.

Playing in front of 40,000 fans at Tokyo's National Stadium, Keio University beat the favourites Kanto Gakuin 27-7 to win the title for the third time in the event's 36-year history. But it was Keio's first time gaining the title outright as the previous two were shared when the final ended in a draw.

"The players have shown a lot of enthusiasm and a good attitude to win the championship in our 100th year," said head coach Masato "Matt" Hayashi.

The build-up to the final was centered on Keio's centenary season, during which they beat a touring Cambridge University team 42-21 in Tokyo last September.

A commemorative plaque at the Keio club's training ground in Hiyoshi, near Yokohama, tells of how a former teacher at the school, E.B. Clarke from Cambridge University, introduced rugby because the students appeared to have nothing to do after summer.

"The young fellows loitered around wasting the hours and lovely autumn weather," Clarke wrote.

Keio's Class of 1999-2000 lived up to the occasion by scoring two second-half tries through right wing Shuhei Urata and full-back Masaomi Kato. Left wing Toru Kurihara kicked five penalty goals from six attempts and added one conversion for a 17-point haul.

Kanto Gakuin, who had won the title for the past two years, replied with a first-half try from centre Taiichi Yoshioka, converted by the same player.

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