Marcus Smith steps out of shadow of Farrell and Ford in dominant England victory over Japan

Only in Japan: England captain Jamie George at the winners' presentation

Japan 17 England 52

Forget the scoreline, and the fact that Charlie Ewels created some unfortunate history by becoming the first England player to be sent off twice when his yellow card for a dangerous clear-out tackle on Michael Leitch, the Japan captain, was upgraded to red, which will surely bring his tour to a premature end.

The main takeaway from this contest was England’s attempt to harness the momentum generated by the second half of their Six Nations campaign and a glimpse into the future of a back line run by Marcus Smith, stepping out of the shadows of Owen Farrell and George Ford.

On both fronts, the return was encouraging for Steve Borthwick, while also giving the England head coach a valuable insight into what ground still needs to be made up before they depart for New Zealand on Monday for two Tests against the All Blacks.

It was far from perfect. England’s discipline at the breakdown was poor, and defensively they allowed a Japan side intent on playing with a lightning-fast game, with precision passing, too much space to attack, particularly in a lung-bursting first quarter.

But overall England demonstrated there is already a significant amount in the credit column with this eight-try victory in draining hot and humid conditions, even if the quality of this inexperienced Japan side must be taken into context.

The manner in which Smith grabbed hold of the game will have pleased Borthwick, after England had spent the majority of the first quarter chasing shadows in challenging conditions.

Marcus Smith celebrates with Henry Slade
Marcus Smith (right) produced one of his best performances - Shutterstock/Franck Robichon

With Chandler Cunningham-South, Sam Underhill and George Martin all delivering powerhouse displays, there was even a chance for Ben Earl to be switched to centre late in the game to give him midfield experience with the hope of allowing England the positional flexibility to field a bench with six forwards and two backs.

But it was an impressive purple patch by Smith in the second quarter that changed the course of the contest decisively in England’s favour. After Cunningham-South had powered over for England’s first try, Smith burst into life, using his speed and change of direction to break open the Japanese defence for a stunning finish. He also had a hand in further tries by Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Henry Slade, finding him with a precision cross-field kick against the grain.

There is more to come from him in terms of game control, and even though he received a yellow card in the second half that brought his game to an end in the 54th minute – he was replaced by Fin Smith having appeared to suffer cramp moments before – it was a positive first step having been backed by Borthwick to shape England’s attack for a run of games.

His own try was celebrated by attack coach Richard Wigglesworth from the coaches’ box for the perfect execution of a move they had practised in training last week.

“We focused meticulously on our running lines in order to turn defenders and give each other one-on-ones and Mitch [Alex Mitchell] and Ben Earl did a really good job on the inside on the back of Ollie’s [Ollie Lawrence] brave line,” said Smith.

“And there was a massive hole in front of me, so I was very lucky to get that ball and I enjoyed scoring under the posts. With all moves we want to have short and long options. That one’s got a few different options that we potentially could run every single game and strike in different parts of the field.

“Like I said, the hole was for me and if someone had bitten on me, I would have hit Tommy Freeman or George Furbank on the outside.”

Marcus Smith scores England's second try
Marcus Smith scored England's second try - Getty Images/Koki Nagahama

England know that they will not be able to score with such ease off first-phase possession against the All Blacks, but there was greater fluidity after the break, with further tries by Mitchell, Earl, Harry Randall and Underhill.

Yet with Borthwick set to back Smith for a number of games to see if he has the Test-match instincts to run a game while bringing his pace, scanning vision and attacking flair to a back line with greater pace than it has had for several years, there are plenty more multi-phase moves that have been kept back for the All Blacks.

To be fair to Eddie Jones, Japan’s high-tempo ‘ruck and run’ game was at times breath-taking, and their accuracy such that England’s defence was severely tested in the early stages and deserved more from a sole penalty by Seungsin Lee, the Kobe Steelers fly-half. At least their relentless efforts were rewarded with two late tries by Koga Nezuka and Samisoni Tua in what was a rather sloppy finish to the game as England introduced their bench, including a first return to the international stage for Tom Curry since his hip injury.

“The performance level will need to rise as we face New Zealand in two weeks time,” admitted Borthwick. “The discipline, you can’t give that number of penalties away, we know that. You can’t give New Zealand the space we gave Japan today.

“The team has had one session in England before we flew, we have had one proper session in Japan since we arrived getting over the jet lag, so to produce that off a couple of sessions together has been very impressive from the players’ point of view, but we will need to go up several levels and I expect us to when we face New Zealand.”

Match details

Scoring sequence: 3-0 Lee pen; 3-5, Cunningham-South try; 3-7 Smith con; 3-12, Smith try; 3-14, Smith con; 3-19, Feyi-Waboso try; 3-21, Smith con; 3-26, Slade try; 3-31, Mitchell try; 3-33, Smith con; 3-38, Earl try; 3-43, Randall try; 3-45, Slade con; 8-45, Nezuka try; 10-45, Matusuda con; 15-45, Yamasawa try; 17-45, Matsuda con; 17-50, Underhill; 17-52, Slade con

Japan: Y Yazaki (T Yamasawa, 55); J Naikabula, S Tua, Tomoki Osada, K Nezuka; S Lee (R Matsuda, 60), N Saito (S Fujiwara 55); T Mohara (S Mirua, 60), M Harada (A Sakate, 49), S Takeuchi (K Tamefusa, 47), S Waqa (A Saumaki, 55), W Dearns, M Leitch, T Costley (K Yamamoto, 60), F Makisi

England: G Furbank; I Feyi-Waboso (T Roebuck, 60), H Slade, O Lawrence, T Freeman (C Ewels, 66); M Smith (F Smith, 66), A Mitchell (H Randall, 51); B Rodd (J Marler, 44), J George (T Dan, 44), D Cole (W Stuart, 57), M Itoje, G Martin, C Cunningham-South (S Underhill, 57), S Underhill (T Curry, 51), B Earl
Yellow card: M Smith (54)
Red card: C Ewels (73)

Japan v England: As it happened

10:03 AM BST

That’s all from us

Thanks for following after the early start. Lots more reaction to follow. I’m off to Twickenham for Wales v South Africa, which could actually be a similar scoreline...

10:02 AM BST

Player ratings are in

Big day for Cunningham-South, with Lawrence struggling. Guess the player?

After a nervy start, blitzed about like a runaway buffalo.

09:56 AM BST

Meanwhile in the Super Rugby final

It’s almost over with the Blues thrashing the Chiefs 41-10 at the moment, on the cusp of their first title since 2003 (if you’re not counting the Trans-Tasman edition from 2021, which I’m not).

All Blacks wing Caleb Clarke has scored a hat-trick, the first in a Super final since 2004.

09:44 AM BST

More on Ewels’ red card

Back in 2022, Ewels received a three-match ban. England’s lawyers will have to work hard to give him a chance of going to New Zealand but feels unlikely. Watch the incident here.

09:33 AM BST

RugbyPass TV

Aware that some of you in the UK and Ireland where the stream was being broadcast had a few technical difficulties. Personally, everything ran smoothly here, and quite handy being able to rewind easily. Good presenting team as well.

09:31 AM BST

A good afternoon/morning’s work

09:29 AM BST

Prizes for England

England captain Jamie George receives a rather large bottle of LipovitanD
England captain Jamie George receives a rather large bottle of LipovitanD
Dan Cole on the end, a hero
Dan Cole on the end, a hero

09:23 AM BST

Ben Kay, the former England lock, on Ewels’ red card

It’s absolutely right. People will watch it in slow-motion and go ‘what’s he thinking’. These situations happens a lot where you have to go in, be physical to make a clearout. He comes in and the reason it’s a red card is because he’s out of control. He’s too low, his head is below his hips. When he goes in there he’s not expecting Michael Leitch’s leg to be in that position, but, you have to retain an element of control. He’s been sent on, wants to make a big impact for the coach so he gets himself involved with the squad. Absolutely a red card, we’re trying to look after player welfare. Gutting for him and it probably changes Borthwick’s plans going forward because I don’t think [Ewels] is going to be available for the New Zealand tour. But it’s the right decision. We have to look after players particularly around the breakdown where there has been so much good work done recently on reducing head injuries, but the other major concern is those jackalling positions or in and around the breakdown, possible career-ending knee injuries.

With [Leitch’s] age, we could have seen the end of one of the greatest players that has played in the lower tiers of international rugby, an absolute great of the game. Fortunately he carried on and was still running around like a 21-year-old.

09:10 AM BST

Eddie Jones

Ah look it was a pretty tough game for us today. England are a strong, powerful team. But I was really pleased with our set-piece work which kept us in the game for a long period of time. And we’ve been working on little things in our attack which created opportunities but we weren’t able to finish them.

We wanted to move the ball quickly, and to do that starts with our set-piece where we showed some improvement today. We created little breaks but weren’t able to capitalise on that. Our movement around the ball is still not sharp enough.

For those players to play in front of a fantastic crowd, it’s really strong potential for Japanese rugby.

09:06 AM BST

Steve Borthwick

Really pleased with the result, I thought the application of the players was really excellent. Clearly late in the game our cohesion broke up a little against a very fast and skilful Japanese team who took their chances really well.

I thought the ball movement of the Japanese team was really excellent, you can tell over the next period of time that team is going to grow in a certain way and they’re very dangerous. We had to defend really well, especially that first 20 minutes, to keep them out.

09:03 AM BST

Jamie George

It was a really tough game. Obviously the conditions were very difficult. Very proud with the way we went about our business today. Always going to be difficult to come over here and get a result. We’re very happy with that.

Japan are a fantastic team, we knew they were going to be very well drilled. We obviously know Eddie very well and couldn’t have more respect for him as a person and a coach. We knew it was going to be difficult, Japan came out here with a very high tempo and I think they will be very successful over the next few years.

It took us a little while to get used to the conditions, but then off the back of that we were really efficient with the ball, moved it into space and we have some very talented backs with a lot of speed and we managed to show that today.

08:54 AM BST

Japan’s second try

Very impressive from Dearns, the 6ft 8in lock who is just 22.

08:51 AM BST

FULL-TIME: Japan 17-52 England

Chip over to Lawrence but he can’t quite haul it in to add another try, and that’s the game! England perhaps disappointed with the final quarter given Japan scored twice and the Ewels’ red, but lots of sharp attacking work as well with Underhill excellent.

08:49 AM BST

Verdict from the former England captain

08:48 AM BST

Ewels upgraded to red card

That’s significant - Ewels now facing a possible ban,  no mitigation according to the bunker. It’s a second red card in consecutive Tests for the Bath lock, which must be a record.

08:45 AM BST

TRY UNDERHILL! Japan 17-52 England

Lots of carries for Earl as Fin Smith, on at 10 by the way, grubbers through. But Japan tidy that up and then have a free-kick at the lineout. Trying to tap and go quick but Underhill is ready and waiting to pounce for a turnover, Japan living dangerously there.

England go to the lineout, that’s a promising maul and Underhill gets over! Fair reward for his work. Slade converts.

08:42 AM BST

74 mins - Japan 17-45 England

Looks as though Earl is playing at inside centre - England revealed he had trained there earlier this week. Matsuda puts a kick out on the full, so that will keep England in Japan’s half.

08:41 AM BST

73 mins - Japan 17-45 England

Dan and Earl with the carries but then Ewels comes in at the side, that was poor. In fact it’s going to be checked, hit Leitch who took the brunt of it and needs a while to get back to his feet. Ewels has dived right at Leitch’s knee, that’s dangerous. It will be a yellow card and checked by the bunker. Luckily Leitch is OK to continue and England will finish with 14.

08:37 AM BST

71 mins - Japan 17-45 England

England looking to wrestle back control of the game again and that’s a threatening run by Roebuck, good footwork from the big wing and a nice fend as well. England have a penalty and Slade sticks it into touch in Japan’s 22.

08:35 AM BST

TRY YAMASAWA! Japan 17-45 England

Curry pinged for hands on the floor. England’s accuracy dropping slightly in the last couple of minutes. Japan rush through that lineout, keen to keep England moving.

Amazing hands from Dearns and then a break, finding Yamasawa on his outside who scores! Pass was going behind the big Japan lock, he plucked it with one hand and then raced away. Matsuda converts.

08:33 AM BST

TRY NEZUKA! Japan 10-45 England

Biggest cheer of the day as Nezuka slips over in the corner, Fujiwara’s good work starting off before Dearns passed well to put Nezuka over, converted well from out wide by Matsuda.

08:30 AM BST

64 mins - Japan 3-45 England

Very good jackal penalty from Fujiwara on debut at scrum-half, Japan again trying to keep the tempo high, before Earl thwarts that attack.

High box kick from Randall is a bit messy and England go offside. Matsuda with a good chip in the corner which forces Freeman back, England pinned deep. Randall finds touch with a box kick.

Ewels now on for his first England cap since the 2022 Six Nations.

08:26 AM BST

62 mins - Japan 3-45 England

England with one dominant scrum but it’s reset, followed by another monster effort which does get a penalty. Tapped by Earl, before a Lawrence grubber gives the attack away and Japan can clear.

08:25 AM BST

60 mins - Japan 3-45 England

Mess of a restart from Japan, too short, so it’s an England scrum on halfway. Sale’s Tom Roebuck is on for his England debut, replacing Feyi-Waboso.

08:23 AM BST

TRY RANDALL! Japan 3-45 England

Scrum penalty England! Japan under pressure, they’ve struggled to know what to do with any penalties to be honest.

England win the lineout, maul for a bit, before Randall box kicks. Won really well by Feyi-Waboso, England going wide, into the 22.

Randall back to the short side, Freeman stopped. Good runs from England’s forwards, Martin, Curry, Stuart who is on for Cole, as Japan’s defence tires and Randall nips over. A try for the Bristol Bear in his first Test since the end of the 2022 Six Nations. Slade converts.

08:15 AM BST

53 mins - Japan 3-38 England

Couple of penalties against England, one for offside and another for not releasing, which get Japan into their 22. Tapped quickly again, not really using the lineout, and England’s defenders are barely committing to the ruck which means there’s no space and Japan aren’t really getting anywhere.

That’s better, Naikabula straightening and getting an offload away, Japan under five metres out. Advantage played, Japan look wide and Furbank spoils the pass...

There’s a TMO check going on to see if Smith tackled Yazaki early after the Naikabula break, which he did. Luc Ramos suggests that Cole could have covered the break so no penalty try (that’s a nice compliment for Cole), but it is going to be a yellow card for Smith. England down to 14 for the next 10 minutes.

08:10 AM BST

TRY EARL! Japan 3-38 England

Dan crashing up before Japan briefly slow it down, but Mitchell does really well - sniping right, attracting two tacklers and then offloading with one hand to put Earl over for England’s sixth. No conversion. Tom Curry and Randall now on too.

08:09 AM BST

49 mins - Japan 3-33 England

Great width and ruck speed from England after the lineout, going a metre short of the line. Marler and Dan are on for Rodd and George and adding impact clearing rucks as England get a penalty for offside, which is chipped into the corner.

Sakate on at hooker for Japan.

08:07 AM BST

47 mins - Japan 3-33 England

Couple of phases in attack for Japan without much gain and then Underhill is there for a jackal turnover, followed by a huge touchfinder. England eyeing up a sixth try.

Tamefusa on at tighthead for Japan.

08:03 AM BST

TRY MITCHELL! Japan 3-33 England

Bright start from England, Feyi-Waboso with a break with Japan slapping his pass backwards. England now with a lineout on the far side and after a couple of carries Mitchell, as he does so well, snipes over to score their fifth. Defensive line just lost track of him. Easy conversion for Smith.

08:01 AM BST

Teams are back out

Can’t see any changes yet from either side but imagine it won’t take long.

07:54 AM BST

Half-time verdict from Tokyo

England are on course for a comfortable victory but it has been far from a convincing performance so far. The best moments of the half instead have come from Japan’s high tempo ‘ruck and run’ game. It was a breath-taking opening and they deserved more than a sole penalty by Seungsin Lee, the Kobe Steelers fly-half, squandering two close-ranging attacking positions.

But having weathered that period of intense defending, England have been able to land four decisive blows with tries by Chandler Cunningham-South, Marcus Smith, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Henry Slade. The issue here is that England will know that they will not be able to score with such ease off first-phase possession against the All Blacks, with Smith able to revel in space that became increasingly on offer as Japanese fitness levels and inexperience began to tell. Along with Cunningham-South, he has been England’s stand-out player. This game feels more like a structured training session, and perhaps it is just what England need in draining conditions.

Two late moments summed up their frustrations, first losing possession from a driving line-out maul after kicking a penalty to the five-metre line, then conceding a penalty in midfield after Smith took the ball to the line. England will want more from the second half, particularly multi-phase attacks.

07:52 AM BST

First-half action

Japan's Tiennan Costley (C) is tackled by England's Marcus Smith (L) and England's Chandler Cunningham-South (R)
Japan's Tiennan Costley (C) is tackled by England's Marcus Smith (L) and England's Chandler Cunningham-South (R) - AFP
Marcus Smith of England dives to score the team's second try
Marcus Smith of England dives to score the team's second try - Koki Nagahama - RFU
Koga Nezuka of Japan drops the ball in a tackle from Tommy Freeman
Koga Nezuka of Japan drops the ball in a tackle from Tommy Freeman - Getty Images

07:49 AM BST

That final first-half try

Really is great awareness from Smith.

07:47 AM BST

RugbyPass TV

Seems to be working well? No issues here but heard reports of some tech gremlins for others, let us know in the comments.

07:44 AM BST

HALF-TIME: Japan 3-26 England

And that’s the break. Promising start from Japan but England have settled and stretched the hosts’ defence, finishing the first half with four tries with Smith looking impressive at No 10. This score arguably the pick of the bunch. England not perfect but comfortably ahead and will be pleased with how that’s going.

07:43 AM BST

TRY SLADE! Japan 3-26 England

Won back by England and a chance for one final attack in this half. Great vision from Smith to reverse the direction of the attack and chip over to the right wing where Slade is one-on-one with Osada, wins the ball in the air and scores England’s fourth try. Well executed.

07:40 AM BST

39 mins - Japan 3-21 England

Won by Cunningham-South at the front, passed into midfield but Naikabula pounces on Lawrence for a turnover. England not quick enough to clear him out and Japan find touch near halfway.

07:39 AM BST

38 mins - Japan 3-21 England

Thrown to Martin at the tail, Earl going close but that’s a very effective counter-ruck by Japan to get the ball back, with Japan finding touch through Lee. Good defence.

07:39 AM BST

38 mins - Japan 3-21 England

Better scrum that from Japan as they move over halfway. Lee again with a nice run, tackled by Slade. Scoreline might not show it but there’s some positives here for Japan, although the end up kicking that away when the options run out.

Japan go off their feet at the breakdown and England can pin them back and go hunting for a fourth try before the break. Another penalty, into the corner...

07:34 AM BST

37 mins - Japan 3-21 England

England maul for a bit, box kick through Mitchell and Freeman wins it back well in the air (he’s so good in that area). Building phases in Japan’s half, Martin and Rodd with carries, before Lawrence knocks on rushing on to a short ball.

07:33 AM BST

35 mins - Japan 3-21 England

Scrum penalty England, Takeuchi giving away his second against Rodd for collapsing. England move clear up to halfway.

07:32 AM BST

33 mins - Japan 3-21 England

Japan could use a bit of a lift here after those two tries, as George is penalised and Lee finds touch in England’s 22. The maul hasn’t fired yet, strike move? Off the top, switched back to the short side. Good dominant tackle from Earl, Naikabula carrying well. Costley think he’s over but there’s a knock-on from Nezuka. England scrum about 10 metres from their line.

07:27 AM BST

TRY FEYI-WABOSO! Japan 3-21 England

Played off the top, Lawrence crashing up and then England get a penalty. Rodd takes a tap, then stops... that was weird. England now a metre short after an Earl carry, another advantage played. Smith wide to completely open Feyi-Waboso to score England’s third! Nice ball that from Smith, who converts from out wide.

07:26 AM BST

27 mins - Japan 3-14 England

The early impact Japan made with their quick ruck ball fading away now, as England get a scrum 40 metres out. Furbank tries to grubber while being tackled and it doesn’t get far. Lee clears long to Smith and that’s a cracking nudge, bouncing into touch for a 50:22. Can England strike from here?

07:22 AM BST

TRY SMITH! Japan 3-14 England

Lee at fly-half has stood out for Japan, in control. Off the scrum Lawrence crashes up, and then England get a penalty after Osada fails to roll away.

England lineout on halfway, thrown long to Lawrence, switched back to Smith and he carves through into space to score. Nice strike move that, Lawrence back to Mitchell, Earl with the dummy run and that made the space for Smith. Slick. Smith converts.

07:19 AM BST

21 mins - Japan 3-7 England

Scrums haven’t been that clean but that’s a better one as Japan attack the short side, Naikabula with a threatening run cutting infield. Knocked on though in the end, England’s scrum in their own 22.

07:17 AM BST

17 mins - Japan 3-7 England

Cunningham-South good to go as Japan have a scrum on halfway. Battle between Mohara and Cole looked tasty but Japan get the ball away, only to knock on in the first tackle. Mitchell kicks in response but it gets a sharp bounce and actually rolls dead, so a scrum all the way back in England’s half for Japan.

07:15 AM BST

17 mins - Japan 3-7 England

Furbank with a good clearance up to halfway. Nice switch in play from Saito but then England pressure at the breakdown... although they’re offside. Japan so intent on keeping things fast, another tapped penalty, but they don’t really go anywhere before Saito sends a bouncing box-kick into the corner.

Stoppage after an error as Cunningham-South gets some treatment and both teams take on water. Mitchell getting an ice pack to the back of his neck just to stay cool as England find the shade. It looks spicy.

07:10 AM BST

Update from Tokyo

Eddie Jones had promised that Japan’s next generation would be founded on “super-fast rugby” and despite their inexperience, they so far have not disappointed. They were still doing sprint warm-up bursts as a 15-man line as England took their positions for the start of the game. Chandler Cunningham-South dropped the kick-off and Japan have dominated the game so far, playing with a lung-busting tempo and impressive accuracy. England have been chasing shadows so far and Japan are well worth their lead. A breath-taking start.

07:07 AM BST


Japan with 75 per cent possession so far but England can strike here. Itoje wins the maul but it’s well defended. Feyi-Waboso crashes up off his wing, good snipe from Mitchell, England a couple of metres out as Cunningham-South goes close... try? Looked like it, will be a TMO check. Given! Great power to get the ball down despite two tacklers on him - a first try on his first start. Smith converts.

07:06 AM BST

12 mins - Japan 3-0 England

Leitch, now 35 and still going strong, claims another lineout before Japan lost the ball in the maul and Mitchell clears. So that’s twice now that England have got out of trouble near their line.

Smith claims a box kick from Saito, before another Mitchell box kick is spilled backwards by Lee and Japan try to counter before Yazaki knocks on.

Cole down for some treatment but he’s good to continue... and England get the scrum penalty! It’s on Takeuchi for collapsing, so 50-50 in that battle with Rodd now. Slade finds the corner.

07:02 AM BST

9 mins - Japan 3-0 England

Scrum free-kick for England, Japan a bit eager, so it’s hoofed downfield by Slade. Luc Ramos of France on the whistle today by the way, forgot to introduce him.

Earl is offside now, discipline hurting England early as Lee puts the ball deep into England’s 22. Maul again, or wide?

07:00 AM BST

7 mins - Japan 3-0 England

England shut down that maul well, earning a scrum five metres from their line. Martin in there causing disruption.

06:58 AM BST

5 mins - Japan 3-0 England

Knock-on from Underhill after the restart so it’s a Japan scrum just outside their own 22. Scrum penalty Japan! Collapsed on Rodd’s side of the scrum.

Japan interestingly go quick and then kick into space, but England get back to sort it out. Mitchell with a box-kick, won back by Japan.

Good blitz tackle by Slade but Japan follow it up on the next phase with a clever grubber and get behind the defence. Tua with a couple of decent carries already and Japan are playing fast. Massive tackle by Freeman, Japan on the edge of England’s 22.

A dozen phases now as Japan move to the left wing and earn another penalty after a good run from Costley. It’s quick! With this penalty, Japan go to the corner. Victor Matfield, the great Springbok, is running Japan’s lineout these days.

06:55 AM BST

PENALTY LEE! Japan 3-0 England

Good strike from the Kobe Steelers No 10 and Japan nudge ahead early on.

06:54 AM BST

2 mins - Japan 0-0 England

Early momentum for Japan as Martin fails to roll away at a ruck, so Lee is lining up a shot at the posts.

06:53 AM BST


That navy England away kit is in for a serious shift in this heat. Pray for the dry cleaners.

Japan get us going... and it’s dropped by Cunningham-South! England get it back and Mitchell clears with a box kick.

06:48 AM BST

One of the better Japan players has been ruled out

No Dylan Riley, which is a shame. He’s replaced at centre by Samisoni Tua. Teams are out on the field.

06:41 AM BST

Ten minutes to go

Japan’s inexperience vs England’s ability to handle the conditions - it’s an interesting matchup. Get those drinks and breakfasts ready.

06:36 AM BST

One last link before kick-off - Tom Curry’s unreal recovery

Dan Schofield spoke to Professor Damian Griffin, the surgeon who carried out the major operation on Tom Curry’s hip which kept him out from the end of the Rugby World Cup until mid-May, and Sale Sharks physio Navdeep Sandhu.

Damian told us this is as bad as it gets for a sportsman’s hip. It was a lot to take in for a 25-year-old.

06:34 AM BST

How will Eddie Jones look to topple his old side?

Charlie Morgan breaks down the tactics the former England head coach will use against his old side, particularly trying to hit them on the counter.

Of the 13 tries England conceded during the Six Nations, four came directly from turnovers – nobody else let slip more than two. With a sweaty, slippery ball, Jones will have primed his players to seize chances in transition. A trick play or two seems certain as well. England conceded five first-phase tries across the Six Nations, the most of any side. Dan Bowden, previously of London Irish and Leicester Tigers, has been appointed Japan attack coach and brings the impetus of a Championship win with Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo.

06:30 AM BST

The sharp words which built England’s new way

Gavin Mairs with the insight on England’s new era and the changes made by Steve Borthwick.

Players spoke of the torment of attending post-match reviews led by a sports psychologist employed by Jones who lost all respect by talking about their own achievements while highlighting the players’ shortcomings. The weight of the England shirt became so heavy that, at times, it was easier for players to go missing in games for fear of the consequences of making mistakes.

06:22 AM BST

Actually a bumper day of rugby

Because after this you have (times BST):

- The Super Rugby Pacific final between the Blues and Chiefs at 8.05am

- South Africa v Wales at 2pm

- The URC final between Bulls and Glasgow Warriors at 5pm

- Barbarians v Fiji at 5.15pm


06:15 AM BST

Update from Tokyo

It is pretty sticky here at the National Stadium in Tokyo - 28 degrees celsius with humidity currently at 62 per cent. Wearing their deep blue away kit is not going to help the England players. It was a ploy of Eddie Jones when he was previously head coach of Japan to ask for fixtures to be scheduled in the mid afternoon to ensure opposition teams had to cope with the most draining conditions. Clearly not doing any favours for his former team.
England have won the toss here, Borthwick’s side will attack left to right.

06:13 AM BST

Stacks of coverage for you to get stuck into

So much actually that I’ll have to post a couple of links each time, starting with:

Why you should enjoy this England tour given it’s one of the last old-school trips, reports Charles Richardson

Touring became a staple of rugby union – indeed, it involved some of the greatest feats and teams the sport has seen – where the blend of adventurousness, kinship and camaraderie proved to be infectious to players and fans.

And something from myself on England’s food intake and how they have started using dual-energy x-rays to attempt to predict injury risks.

How much food England get through while in camp during one week; 100 kilos of berries and 200 kilos of bananas, up to 150 kilos of potatoes and 25 kilograms of pasta, with players able to build their own pasta dish using a variety of sauces the night before a game. Not forgetting 40 to 50 litres of milk a day, going into porridge, coffees, smoothies and shakes.

06:00 AM BST

Sounds like a scorcher

And the truth is while you can prepare as much as possible for conditions like today’s - which you can read more about here - sometimes the heat just hits you.

This was Eddie Jones in an exclusive interview with the Telegraph recently:

It will be hot mate. We will have had the heaters on for three months before England arrive. I want to see Steve Borthwick up there sweating, mate. I want to see him wiping the sweat, dripping from his brow. I just hope Umbro have made him a light shirt.

05:56 AM BST

If you’re searching for coverage on your TV

A reminder that the game is being shown on RugbyPass TV, so only online and not actually on television. Of course you can also just stay here for the updates.

05:50 AM BST


Morning everybody (yes it’s early, I have coffee, I hope you do too). Welcome to the start of Test rugby this summer - which feels quite weird to say given it feels like the Premiership final finished about two seconds ago.

England are expecting a sticky and hot afternoon in Tokyo at the Olympic Stadium, which was originally intended to be part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup venues but was delayed until the Olympics in 2021. Based on footage of England’s captain’s run it absolutely hosed it down on Friday, but I’m told by the Met Office that today it’s about 27 degrees with only 50 per cent humidity, which is toasty.

Having watched England train at Pennyhill Park earlier this month by going through a number of grim drills with four heaters blasting at them, followed up by a hot bath and a trip to the sauna (for them, not me), they’ve certainly been prepped for these conditions.

Stadium and weather chat aside, there are a ton of interesting subplots around this game - Borthwick vs Eddie, England vs Eddie, Japan picking eight uncapped players and a university student at full-back for Jones’ first game in charge, a first start together for the combination of Alex Mitchell and Marcus Smith at half-back.

England have gone relatively strong with an eye on the All Blacks in a fortnight’s time, and you would expect the same backline to be present in Dunedin. Perhaps it will be the same pack too, where England have been forced to rejig with Ollie Chessum out injured after ending the Six Nations so well. The one surprise selection might be Bevan Rodd at loosehead, given this felt like the summer where England would have bedded in Fin Baxter. The young Harlequin is not in the 23 at all, which feels notable.

Lots of build up coming your way over the next hour - let me know in the comments what’s on the breakfast menu.