Five Saffas in Japanese Top League XV of the season

Five South Africans have been named in the Japanese Top League team of the season, including three Rugby World Cup winners.

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The Japanese Top League concluded on Sunday as Panasonic Wild Knights beat Suntory Sungoliath 26-31 in the final. Following that match, organisers announced the team of the season.

The team boasts some of rugby’s biggest names, including All Blacks Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara and Brodie Retallick. However, it is the South Africans who shine with more named in the team than any other nationality.

Three of the Saffas are 2019 World Cup winners: Willie Le Roux, Malcolm Marx and Kwagga Smith. Lappies Labuschagne (who captained Japan in the World Cup) and Ruan Botha (who played twice for South Africa A in 2018) also make the side.

Wing Makazole Mapimpi and flyhallf Lionel Cronje can feel unfortunate to have missed out on selection after both had seasons to remember.

Though the attention of the rugby world may have been on South Africa’s stars who have won in Europe this past weekend, the success of a host of key Springboks in Japan proves that Saffas across the world are finding form at just the right time before the Lions series.

The team:

  1. Keita Inagaki – Panasonic Wild Knights
  2. Malcolm Marx – Kubota Spears
  3. Shinnosuke Kakinaga – Suntory Sungoliath
  4. Brodie Retallick – Kobe Kobelco Steelers
  5. Ruan Botha – Kubota Spears
  6. Ben Gunter – Panasonic Wild Knights
  7. Lappies Labuschagne – Kubota Spears
  8. Kwagga Smith – Yamaha Jubilo
  9.  TJ Perenara – NTT Red Hurricanes
  10. Beauden Barrett – Suntory Sungoliath
  11. Kenki Fukuoka – Panasonic Wild Knights
  12. Micheal Little – Mitishibishi Dynaboars
  13. Dylan Riley – Panasonic Wild Knights
  14. Tevita Li – Suntory Sungoliath
  15. Willie Le Roux – Toyota Verblitz