The R246 Lions were introduced into AFL Japan for the 2012 season as an expansion club.
They are uniquely named after Route 246, the highway that connects Tokyo with Kanagawa.
The beginning of the R246 Lions was in Jun Sekiguchi, introducing footy to a small group of friends who in turn brought along some of their friends to the next training session. More new friends were recruited until 16 players were training together. They then decided to contest the Pocari Sweat Cup, a one day tournament held in October 2011. The ‘Lions’ managed to finish equal fifth with the Tokyo Goannas.
The Lions then played a curtain raiser at the 2011 grand final against a team of first and second year students, and won this match by 30 points.
The Lions were then invited to play as a guest team in the ‘Heritage Cup’, a gathering of current players and old boys from the Tokyo Leopards. Surprisingly the Lions won the tournament and had gathered a ‘fan club’ of some 20 supporters. By the end of the Lions’ 2011 activities they had built a player and supporter base of over 50 people. Many, including Azumi Kishi and Ai Sichinohe, who had helped run and manage the team and Shunpei Kanda who had put in some ‘hard yakka’ for the fledgling team and recruited a number of his friends, were keen for the Lions to continue. As a result it was decided to field a team in the Japan Top League.
They played their first game in the AFL Japan competition against the Tokyo Goannas on the 20th May 2012.
Like the Coburg Football Club, the Lions aim to establish themselves as a community based club in their respective competition.
Upon joining AFL Japan, the bulk of the players were graduates from Nippon Sport Science University (NSSU) and were very new to footy. The NSSU is considered the most traditional and honoured sports university in Japan.
To find out more about the R246 Lions, please click here to view their Facebook page.