Thursday, January 27, 2011

Todd Clever looking good in World Cup Year

USA Eagles star backrower and captain, Todd Clever put in yet another top performace for his club Suntory Sungoliath on the weekend as they defeated the champions from the past two seasons, the Toshiba Fuchu Brave Lupus 17-12 to win the Japanese Top League semi-final. Suntory have some big name players such as Japanese international prop Kensuke Hatakeyama, centres Koji Taira and Ryan Nicholas and wing Hirotoki Onozawa. The club also has the world´s most capped international rugby player of all time and former Australian captain, George Gregan. But it was Clever who was awarded man of the match.

The win over Toshiba Fuchu Brave Lupus was no easy achivement as Toshiba had not only won the tournament for the past two seasons but have truely dominated the Japanese Top League with five championship titles from seven years since the league began in 2003-2004. Suntory are one time champions having won the 2007-2008 championship. Suntory will now go into the Top League Final to play the Sanyo Wild Knights who defeated Toyota Verblitz 32-10 in the other semi-final. The Top League Final will be played this weekend, on January 30.

写真:第7節 vsヤマハ発動機(10.10.23:秩父宮ラグビー場)

Previous Top League Champions

2009-10: Toshiba Brave Lupus
2008-9: Toshiba Brave Lupus
2007-8: Suntory Sungoliath
2006-7: Toshiba Brave Lupus
2005-6: Toshiba Brave Lupus
2004-5: Toshiba Brave Lupus
2003-4: Kobe Steelers

With Thanks: and


  1. Todd Clever is a grea player. But why did he leave the Super 14 to play in Japan.

  2. I second that. Clever should have stayed in South Africa.

  3. I think there's 3 reasons Japan was a smart move for him. 1. Playing time. 2. Winning. 3. Playing style.

    Comparing them on those grounds - 1. Playing Time - The Lions basically used Clever as their best backup (and as a poster boy with his mane). Where as he's an integral part of the Sungoliath's team. I think that gets a tick for development. 2. Winning - every athlete wants to win. And the Lions have been the worst team for a few years now, which lead to coaching changes and instable rosters to try and find a good mix. 3. Playing style. The Lions were focused on trying not to lose in a tough competition. The Sungoliaths play a fun attacking style, which is more like Clever's 7's background. And the Try of the 2007 WC came with Clever pulling out some of his 7's skills (finished off with Ngwenya torching Habana of course).

    On the otherhand, a drawback is loss of exposure in SA NZ Aus.

    But he's still playing with and against quality guys. And I think 'playing' is the key word. He's on the field, and having fun. Sure Japan is no South Africa, but the 3 above reasons trump the loss of exposure. And the league has a lot of imports, so it's not much of a drop-off as one would think. (I'd rank it just below the French Top 14, and above the Italian Magners League)

  4. I agree with James

    Many youtube videos have comments saying that he should not have gone to play in Japan. I have it on good authority that he took the offer from Suntory specifically planning for Rugby World Cup 2011. He wanted game time and to be playing positive rugby. My source indicates that he may well move on from Japan to Europe if he has an offer - which he certainly should have.

    TC has at least one more Rugby World Cup in him and should attract strong offers from France, England and elsewhere. I look forward to him taking apart Ireland and Italy and the breakdown come New Zealand 2011.

  5. Oh yeah, and the coaching is better. Lions = revolving door for coaches. Sungoliaths = Eddie Jones. He was the coach for Australia in the RWC 01 final, won the Super 12 (now 14) in 01, and was a key part in the Springboks RWC 07 triumph.

  6. The Lions really have been a disaster ever sicne the Super 12 expanded to the Super 14 and did so by splitting up the Cats into the Lions and the Cheetahs. Since this time the Lions have always been a poor side.

    The Cheetahs have not been much better, mind you.

  7. Hopefully the Sungoliaths win.

  8. Todd´s USA backrow team mate, Nic Johnson now plays in Italy. I´ll put it on the blog in two days time.