Top League Champions Cup

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Lixil Cup
Lixil Cup logo.png
Top League Champions
Sport Rugby union football
Formerly known as Microsoft Cup
Inaugural season 2004
Number of teams 4
Country Japan
Holders Panasonic Wild Knights (4th title)
(2016)
Most titles Toshiba Brave Lupus (5 titles)
Website www.top-league.jp
Yoshiaki Fujimori presents the 2016 Lixil Cup trophy to Panasonic captain Shota Horie.

The Top League Champions Cup, known as the Lixil Cup and previously the Microsoft Cup, is a rugby union knockout tournament held annually in Japan to determine the Top League championship title. The Top League is the highest level of rugby competition in Japan and is an industrial league that presently consists of sixteen teams, all owned by major companies. The building materials supplier Lixil Group is the current naming rights partner.[1]

Initially sponsored by Microsoft Japan, the knockout tournament was first contested by the top eight teams from the Top League in 2004. It was considered a separate competition to the Top League for the first three seasons but was officially integrated for the 2006–07 season. The number of teams was also cut to four to give a format of two semi-finals and a final, and from that time onward until the 2016–17 season the winner of the knockout cup was recognised as the Top League champion.

There were no title-play-offs in 2016–17, and the team on top of the league after the round-robin stage won the Top League title.

Overall[edit]

Summary totals for all Top League championships up to and including 2016:

Team Championships Runners-up Semi-final losses Premierships
Toshibabravelupus.png Toshiba Brave Lupus 5 3 4 5
PanasonicWildKnights.png Panasonic Wild Knights1 4 4  3^ 4
Suntorycolours.png Suntory Sungoliath 3 3  2+ 2
Kobesteelers.png Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers  1* 0  5^ 3
Yamahajubilo.png Yamaha Júbilo 0 2  2+ 0
Kubotaspears.png Kubota Spears 0 1 1 0
Toyotaverblitz.png Toyota Verblitz 0 0 5 0
NECgreenrockets.png NEC Green Rockets  0* 0 2 0

Notes:

 1 The Panasonic Wild Knights summary includes results for the Sanyo Wild Knights from 2003–2012.
 * NEC won the 2004 Microsoft Cup but Kobe Steel was the Top League champion. These were separate competitions prior to 2007.
 ^ The 2004 Kobe Steel and Sanyo (Panasonic) semi-final appearances are included, although that cup was not part of the championship.
 + Yamaha was 3rd and Suntory 4th in the 2003–04 Top League championship, but these results are not counted as semi-final appearances.

Tournaments[edit]

Teams listed are those that qualified from the Top League for the title play-offs in each season, or the top four teams where there were no play-offs. Results of the play-offs are written so that the score of the team in each row is mentioned first.

Legend
Cup winner
(knockout play-offs).
Pos = Log Position, P = Games Played, W = Games Won, D = Games Drawn, L = Games Lost, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against, Diff = Points Difference, TB = Try Bonus Points, LB = Losing Bonus Points, SP = Starting Points for Group Stage, Pts = Log Points, Semi = Semi-final, Refs = References
dagger Top League title winner.

2017 onward: Top League title[edit]

Unlike previous seasons, there were no title-play-offs, and the team on top of the league after the round-robin stage was crowned the Top League title winner. The top three teams also progressed to the All-Japan Rugby Football Championship.

Top League title (2017–present)
Season League period Pos Team Top League regular season Refs
Pts P W D L PF PA Diff TB LB
2016–17 26 August 2016
to
14 January 2017
1 Suntory Sungoliath dagger 71 15 15 0 0 563 184 +379 11 0 [2]
2 Yamaha Júbilo 67 15 14 0 1 580 208 +372 11 0
3 Panasonic Wild Knights 62 15 13 0 2 579 268 +311 9 1
4 Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers 48 15 10 0 5 473 328 +145 7 1

2014 to 2016: Lixil Cup and Top League title[edit]

From the 2013–14 season, the Top League tournament was contested by sixteen teams. The top four teams from the league competition (or the top eight in 2016) advanced to the play-offs to compete for the Lixil Trophy and Top League Championship.

Lixil Trophy and Top League Championship play-offs (2014–2016)
Year Cup period Pos Team Top League regular season Cup play-off results Refs
Pts P W D L PF PA Diff TB LB SP Qtr Semi Final
2016 9 January
to
24 January
1A Panasonic Wild Knights dagger 31 7 6 1 0 290 137 153 5 0 48–6 42–10 27–26 [3]
1B Yamaha Jubilo 29 7 6 0 1 226 140 86 5 0 27–6 22–34
2A Toshiba Brave Lupus 26 7 5 1 1 253 100 153 4 0 29–17 34–22 26–27
2B Kobelco Steelers 27 7 5 0 2 235 137 98 5 2 42–10 10–42
3A Kintetsu Liners 23 7 5 0 2 189 193 -4 3 0 10–42
3B Toyota Verblitz 26 7 5 0 2 203 125 78 5 1 17–29
4A NTT Shining Arcs 22 7 4 0 3 190 142 48 4 2 6–27
4B Canon Eagles 25 7 5 0 2 196 142 54 4 1 6-48
2015 24 January
to
1 February
1 Kobe Steelers 29 7 5 0 2 242 113 +129 4 1 4 12–41 [4]
2 Panasonic Wild Knightsdagger 29 7 5 0 2 218 131 +87 5 0 4 50–15 30–12
3 Toshiba Brave Lupus 28 7 5 0 2 213 147 +66 4 1 3 15–50
4 Yamaha Júbilo 27 7 5 0 2 165 134 +31 4 1 2 41–12 12–30
2014 1 February
to
9 February
1 Panasonic Wild Knightsdagger 36 7 7 0 0 224 105 119 4 0 4 55–15 45–22 [5]
2 Suntory Sungoliath 32 7 6 0 1 261 169 92 4 0 4 27–19 22–45
3 Kobe Steelers 24 7 4 0 3 223 194 29 5 1 2 19–27
4 Toshiba Brave Lupus 23 7 4 0 3 181 151 30 2 3 2 15–55

2010 to 2013: Play-offs and Top League title[edit]

2007 to 2009: Microsoft Cup and Top League title[edit]

For the 2006–07 season the tournament was expanded to fourteen teams and the Top League and Microsoft Cup competitions were combined. Only the top four teams on the regular season table progressed to title play-offs and the winner of the knockout competition was awarded both the Microsoft Cup and the Top League title.

Video referee (TMO) decisions were introduced for the 2009 Cup series. The naming rights partnership with Microsoft for the knockout competition ended after the 2009 Cup final.

Top League Championship play-off tournament (2007–2013)
Year Cup period Pos Team Top League regular season Play-off results Refs
Pts P W D L PF PA Diff TB LB Semi Final
2009 17 February
to
24 February
1 Toshiba Brave Lupusdagger 59 13 12 0 1 563 211 +352 11 0 26–7 17–6 [6]
2 Sanyo Wild Knights 58 13 12 0 1 584 197 +387 10 0 32–22 6–17
3 Suntory Sungoliath 51 13 10 0 3 482 298 +184 10 1 22–32
4 Kobe Steelers 43 13 9 0 4 358 300 +58 5 2 6–27
2008 17 February
to
24 February
1 Sanyo Wild Knights 63 13 13 0 0 593 170 +423 11 0 25–21 10–14 [7]
2 Suntory Sungoliathdagger 53 13 10 1 2 453 229 +224 10 1 33–10 14–10
3 Toyota Verblitz 50 13 9 1 3 452 269 +183 9 3 10–33
4 Toshiba Brave Lupus 47 13 10 1 2 398 263 +135 5 2 21–25
2007 28 January
to
4 February
1 Toshiba Brave Lupusdagger 60 13 12 0 1 502 234 268 11 1 38–35 14–13 [8]
2 Suntory Sungoliath 56 13 11 0 2 545 161 384 10 2 40–39 13–14
3 Yamaha Jubilo 48 13 10 1 2 379 306 73 5 1 39–40
4 Toyota Verblitz 47 13 9 0 4 448 267 181 8 3 35–38

2004 to 2006: Microsoft Cup (separate Top League title)[edit]

For the first three seasons the competition format was a single round-robin tournament contested by twelve teams, with the team finishing top of the table winning the Top League title. The Microsoft Cup was a separate knockout competition for the top eight teams in the league.

Microsoft Cup play-off tournament (2004–2006)
Year Cup period Pos Team Top League regular season Play-off results Refs
Pts P W D L PF PA Diff TB LB Qtr Semi Final
2006 22 January
to
5 February
1 Toshiba Brave Lupusdagger 46 11 9 0 2 406 193 213 10 0 38–7 23–10 33–18 [9]
2 Sanyo Wild Knights 42 11 9 0 2 416 276 140 6 0 24–40
3 NEC Green Rockets 41 11 9 0 2 270 136 134 4 1 17–12 10–23
4 Toyota Verblitz 37 11 7 0 4 431 263 168 6 3 12–17
5 Kobe Steelers 33 11 7 0 4 284 225 59 4 1 7–38
6 Suntory Sungoliath 32 11 6 0 5 308 241 67 6 2 35–17 44–25 18–33
7 Yamaha Jubilo 28 11 5 0 6 328 211 117 4 4 17–35
8 Kubota Spears 23 11 4 1 6 324 297 27 5 0 40–24 25–44
2005 8 February
to
28 February
1 Toshiba Brave Lupusdagger 50 11 10 0 1 463 166 297 9 1 33–13 41–0  20–6α [10]
2 Yamaha Jubilo 45 11 9 0 2 380 218 162 8 1 38–33  33–33β  6–20α
3 NEC Green Rockets 44 11 9 0 2 407 253 154 7 1  16–51γ
4 Toyota Verblitz 43 11 8 0 3 427 224 203 9 2 42–21  33–33β
5 Kobe Steelers 34 11 6 0 5 326 356 -30 8 2  51–16γ 0–41
6 Kubota Spears 27 11 5 0 6 277 334 -57 6 1 33–38
7 Sanyo Wild Knights 24 11 4 0 7 346 296 50 4 4 21–41
8 Suntory Sungoliath 24 11 4 0 7 307 282 25 4 4 13–33
2004 8 February
to
22 February
1 Kobe Steelersδdagger 47 11 9 0 2 439 286 153 11 0 35–27 10–34 [11]
2 Toshiba Brave Lupus 44 11 8 1 2 503 283 220 9 1 39–10 36–34 19–24
3 Yamaha Jubilo 42 11 8 2 1 334 223 111 6 0 10–39
4 Suntory Sungoliath 42 11 8 0 3 408 265 143 9 1 5–32
5 World Fighting Bull 32 11 6 0 5 349 285 64 7 1 27–35
6 NEC Green Rocketsδ 30 11 5 2 4 411 274 137 6 0 32–5 34–10 24–19
7 Sanyo Wild Knights 24 11 4 1 6 319 331 -12 6 0 39–32 34–36
8 Kubota Spears 22 11 4 0 9 262 362 -100 4 2 32–39

Notes:

Toshiba Brave Lupus won the Top League and Microsoft Cup double.[12]

The number of tries and goals being equal, the result was decided in favour of Yamaha over Toyota by a lottery at Hanazono after the game.

Reigning Microsoft Cup holders the NEC Green Rockets were knocked out at the quarter final stage.[13][14]

In 2003–04, Kobe Steel won the Top League but NEC won the Microsoft Cup. The League and Cup were separate competitions prior to 2007.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Top League to introduce new officiating system this season". Japan Times. 21 August 2014. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "2016/17 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  3. ^ "2015/16 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  4. ^ "2014/15 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  5. ^ "2013/14 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  6. ^ "2008/09 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  7. ^ "2007/08 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  8. ^ "2006/07 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  9. ^ "2005/06 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  10. ^ "2004/05 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  11. ^ "2003/04 Top League". The Rugby Archive. 
  12. ^ "Steelers upset Green Rockets in Microsoft Cup quarter final". Japan Times. 24 January 2004. Archived from the original on 1 March 2005. 
  13. ^ "Brave Lupus add name to rugby Cup". Japan Times. 7 February 2005. Archived from the original on 1 March 2005. 
  14. ^ "Official report of the 2005 final". JRFU. Archived from the original on 5 April 2005. 

External links[edit]