The Rugby Top League in Japan is a league of corporate teams that started in the 2003-2004 season. The top league is the highest league with 16 teams, the second division is the top challenge league, and below that are the regional leagues. Some of the players who play in the league have professional contracts, but it is said that 20% of the players are professionals and 80% of the players are company employees.
Japan's Top League does not overlap with Super Rugby, so you can watch the world's superstars play. In the 2021 season, very famous players such as Beauden Barrett (Suntory), Greig Laidlaw (NTT Com), and Michael Hooper (Toyota) will compete in the Top League.
Japan Rugby Top League
|Hino Red Dolphins||Tokyo|
|Mitsubishi Sagamihara DynaBoars||Kanagawa|
|Munakata Sanix Blues||Fukuoka|
|NEC Green Rockets||Chiba|
|NTT Communications Shining Arcs||Chiba|
|NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes||Osaka|
|Panasonic Wild Knights||Gunma|
|Ricoh Black Rams||Tokyo|
|Toshiba Brave Lupus||Tokyo|
Prior to the start of the Top League, Japanese rugby was played in a format where the winner of the National Corporate Rugby Football Tournament and the winner of the National University Rugby Football Championship would battle it out in the Japan Rugby Football Championship to determine the best in Japan. Since then, the format has been changed in various ways as the difference in ability between the corporate teams and the university teams became more apparent.
There are many teams that have a long history even before the Top League started, and unlike professional baseball, the number of Top League championships alone does not reveal the history of a team. Kobe Steel Corp, for example, has won the Top League championship twice but has won nine times in the National Corporate Rugby Football Tournament. Toyota Motor Corporation has never won the Top League championship but has won the National corporate Rugby Championship five times.
It has decided to create a new league in the fall of 2021, and this one seems to be moving toward full professionalization.
Top League Championships
Toshiba Brave Lupus (5 times)
Suntory Sungoliath (5 times)
Panasonic Wild Knights (4 times)
Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers (2 times)