Rice Bowl Pits Two Undefeated Teams For National Championship in Japan

This Sunday the Panasonic Impulse, winners of the X League in Japan, will take on the the Ritsumeikan Panthersnewly crowned winners of the Koshien Bowl, Japan’s university championship. A crowd of upwards of 50,000 is expected at the Tokyo Dome to watch the two undefeated teams go head to head.

This will be the fourth meeting between the Impulse and Panthers in the Rice Bowl. The last time these two teams faced each other for the Japanese national title was 2009 and then the Panthers prevailed 17-13. The Impulse beat Ritsumeikan in the 1995 Rice Bowl 16-14 and then again in the 2005 Rice Bowl 26-7.

The Panthers have appeared in the Rice Bowl seven times since its inception in 1984 and won it three times. The Impulse’s record is similar with six appearances and three titles (2008, 2005 and 1995).

So if ever there was a rivalry this could be it.

Panasonic enters the game undefeated after rallying to win the X Bowl over the Fujitsu Frontiers 24-21 in mid-December. The similarities continue as Ritsumeikan defeated the Waseda Big Bears 28-27 in a thriller for the collegiate championship and are also undefeated in 2015.

Japan - X Bowl-Koshien Bowl action - 2pic

Panasonic QB Tetsuo Takata & Ritsumeikan RB Nanato Nishimura

Panthers head coach  Kiyoshi Kawaguchi has his team performing well and with quarterbacks Yuta Uno and Yuki Tochio the offense has been outstanding all season averaging 41 points per game. Running back Nanato Nishimura has been a key factor for the Panthers.

Panasonic Impulse quarterback Tetsuo Takata, MVP of the X Bowl, has not thrown an interception all season, a remarkable feat. Running back Ben Dupree led the league in rushing and will make life difficult for Ritsumeikan’s defense.

The Panthers have prepared well for this game as shown by this video.

Photos: The Japan Times.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.