Princeton Tigers Head to Japan To Play Legacy Bowl

The Princeton football team has made its own Powers Field a comfortable home for its annual Spring Game. This year, however, the Tigers have found a new venue — Kincho Stadium, in Osaka, Japan.

Princeton will take on the Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters, the national college champion of Japan, in the “Legacy Bowl” on Saturday, March 21. It will be the second meeting between the two programs this century; Taylor Northrop’s late field goal helped the Tigers rally for a 27-25 victory when the two teams met in March of 2001.

“We are excited to participate in the first annual Legacy Bowl against the national champions of Japan,” Princeton head coach Bob Surace said. “This unique opportunity allows us the benefits of experiencing another culture in addition to playing an actual game against one of the best non-American college teams in the world.

“We’re looking forward to our Spring Ball preparations beginning on Feb. 27 and kicking off an offseason that will hopefully lead to an excellent season in 2015,” Surace added.

Princeton will practice three times in Japan prior to the Legacy Bowl, which will be played at 1 pm local time (midnight in Princeton).

The Fighters have won the Koshien Bowl, the collegiate national championship, 27 times, most among Japanese colleges. They most recently lost the Rice Bowl to the X-League champion Fujitsu Frontiers 33-24 in the Tokyo Dome.

Over a two-week span when fourth downs have been such a hot topic for the Dallas Cowboys and its head coach — and former Princeton Bushnell Cup winnerJason Garrett ’89, here is a wild stat from the Rice Bowl: Kwansei Gakuin went for fourth down eight times out of 10 opportunities.

While there will be a competitive spirit in the game, there could be a collaborative spirit if either or both teams sing their respective alma maters afterwards. Mark Bernstein ’83 examined how Kwansei Gakuin University came to use a version of the Princeton alma mater (“Old Kwansei“) in this 2001 Princeton Alumni Weekly piece.


John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.