Leitch, Matsushima, Himeno Named in Brave Blossoms World Cup Squad

Courtesy of JRFU
Michael Leitch

The Brave Blossoms squad heading to the Rugby World Cup in France next month will include Michael Leitch, Kotaro Matsushima, Kazuki Himeno and Keita Inagaki, the Japan Rugby Football Union announced Tuesday.

Ahead of the start of the tournament on Sep. 8, the JRFU announced the names of 30 members of the Brave Blossoms squad, which includes leading lights of the 2019 tournament in Japan as well as newcomers such as Tomoki Osada, who has made an impact in recent international matches.

Leitch and Shota Horie are set to appear at their fourth consecutive World Cups.

Each team will be able to name a squad of 33 players for the tournament. The remaining three players in the Brave Blossoms lineup will be announced at a later date, with the union taking injuries and other factors into consideration.

At the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the Brave Blossoms reached the quarterfinal of the tournament for the first time. To advance to the quarterfinals in France, Japan will have to come first or second in pool D, which also includes Chile, England, Samoa and Argentina.

Ahead of the tournament, the Brave Blossoms will play a warmup match against Italy in the northeastern Italian city of Treviso on Aug. 26.