England Wins 52-17 in the Visitors’ First Official Rugby Test Match in Japan

England and Japan players shake hands after the match in National Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday.

TOKYO (AP) — England’s stop in Tokyo on its way to a two-test rugby tour of New Zealand was no contest as the visitors beat Japan 52-17 Saturday in an eight-try performance at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

It was the first time England played an official test match in Japan.

After Japan took an early 3-0 lead, Chandler Cunningham-South put England ahead with a try in his first test start. Marcus Smith converted his Harlequins teammate’s try to put the visitors up 7-3.

Smith’s try on 24 minutes made it 14-3 for the visitors and England led 26-3 at halftime after Henry Slade’s try in the 42nd minute. The rout continued in the second half when Ben Earl scored a try to give England a 38-3 lead.

Eddie Jones, starting his second stint as Japan coach after an ill-fated second stint with Australia, chose Yoshitaka Yazaki, an uncapped university student not playing for a professional side. The 20-year-old Yazaki impressed Jones in a Japan XV which won the Pacific Challenge in April involving other ‘A’ teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.

The rival coaches had a lot of previous connections — over seven years together. England coach Steve Borthwick was an assistant coach for the forwards under Jones when he previously coached Japan between 2012 and 2015 and also when he coached England from 2015 before Jones was sacked in December, 2022.

Only seven Japan starters were at last year’s Rugby World Cup, where Japan lost to England 34-12 in the pool stage. There were four uncapped players in the starting side, including both props, and eight in the 23.

England will play New Zealand in test matches on July 6 in Dunedin and on July 13 at Auckland’s Eden Park.