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Burwood Michael

Born Burwood, Christchurch New Zealand.

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Began playing rugby at age five at Burnside RFC.

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Attended St Bedes College in Christchurch.

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Attended Yamanote High School in Sapporo.

Michael schools

Selected for Japan Secondary Schools.

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Enrolled at Tokai University.

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In 2008, Michael was selected for the Japan Sevens and under-20s and went on to make his full test debut against the USA in Nagoya that November.


Signs for Toshiba Brave Lupus and caps off the year at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, winning praise for his man-of-the-match performances.


Selected for Chiefs but injury denies debut.


Appointed captain of Japan's national rugby team.

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Selected and debuts for Chiefs in Super Rugby and goes on to be awarded Rookie of the Year. Michael leads Japan to one of the all-time great sporting upsets against overwhelming favourites South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Selected in the RWC Best 15 as No.8 and Captain.


In 2016 Michael continued his stellar form for Chiefs making the Super Rugby finals losing narrowly to the eventual champions the Hurricanes 25-9 in the semi. After playing 81 continuous games since 2013 for Japan, Toshiba and the Chiefs Michael made himself unavailable for the Japan national side to recover from the toll of playing a never ending global season with the intent to return in 2017.

Leitch 2017

In 2017 Michael continued to play for the Chiefs in the Super Rugby competition losing to the champion Crusaders side 27-13 in the semi-final. Michael also returned to the Japan Brave Blossoms in the June series against Romania and Ireland. His outstanding form and leadership in that series led him to retain the captaincy for the November series where Japan had good success drawing with France 23- 23 in Paris. Head Coach Jamie Joseph later stated Michael would be the Japan captain through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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In 2018 Michael joined the Japan based Super Rugby side the Sunwolves, his performances and leadership having an immediate effect on the team. The Sunwolves enjoyed their best season in their short history with wins over the Reds, Stormers and the Bulls. On the international stage Michael captained the Japan team to wins over Italy and Georgia in the June series at home and in November the Brave Blossoms hosted the World XV and the All Blacks in Tokyo and played England and Russia in London.

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In 2019 the Japan Brave Blossoms went through the Pacific Nations Cup undefeated, with wins against Fiji, Tonga and the United States. Then on rugby`s biggest stage, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the Japan side repeated their 2015 Brighton heroics, this time beating world number two ranked Ireland 19–12 at Shizuoka Stadium. The rugby skill and results of the Japan side captured the nation, with a full stadium and 60 million television viewers watching the team reach the quarter-finals for the first time after convincingly beating Scotland 28–21 at the International Stadium Yokohama, which had been battered by Typhoon Hagibis only the night before.

Michael 2020

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic all Top League rugby and Brave Blossom international tests for the 2020 season were cancelled. Michael used this time off from rugby to complete minor surgeries, rehabilitate and prepare for the 2021 Top League season.

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In 2021 Michael returned to rugby playing for his Toshiba Brave Lupus side. Michael`s strong performances once again led to him being selected for the Japan Brave Blossoms. For the first time in history, Michael led the Japan national team against the Irish and British Lions at Murrayfield, in Japan's first game since the Rugby World Cup quarter-final. The Lions won the game 28-10. Michael also went on to play test matches against Ireland, Portugal and Scotland.

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In 2022 Michael played an influential role in a resurgent Toshiba Brave Lupus side reaching the semi-finals in the first season of the new League One Championship. Michael`s standout performances led to him being selected for the Japan national team for his fifteenth season. Michael was consistently one of the best performers in international rugby producing repeated inspiring performances against Uruguay and France in the June tests, and then against Wallabies A, All Blacks, England and France at the end of the season.

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In 2023 Michael was chosen to play for the Brave Blossoms for his sixteenth consecutive season after inspiring performances for Toshiba Brave Lupus throughout the League One competition. In September Michael was selected to participate in his fourth Rugby World Cup held in France and after starting all games against Chile, England, Samoa and Argentina he became the most Rugby World Cup capped Japanese player of all time with with a total of 16. In one of the spectacles of the tournament Japan narrowly lost to Argentina 27-39 in the last pool game denying the Brave Blossoms a place in the quarter-final.