1932 Canada Tour to Japan

Canada’s 1932 Tour to Japan: Official Souvenir Book and the Mystery of the Missing Nippon Maple Leaf Cup

The 1932 tour wasn’t the first Canadian rugby tour but it was the first tour under the auspices of the Rugby Union of Canada, which was formed in 1929. The tour booklet makes mention of the 1902-1903 tour to the UK which was the first Canada tour, it also references the 1930 incoming Japan tour to BC which acted as a foundation for this 1932 tour.

We also look at the mystery of the missing Nippon Maple Leaf Cup with the help of Doug Sturrock’s excellent book, “It’s a Try! The History of Rugby in Canada”. The elaborately crafted Cup was presented to Canada during the 1932 tour but its whereabouts are currently unknown.

The granddaughter of one of the tour players, F.G. (Frank) Skillings, kindly provided these photos of the 1932 program, as well as some photos that were saved with the program.

We’ll look to add another article on the tour and incoming 1930 tour sometime this summer before the Japan match on August 25th at BC Place.


Team Photo (scan 1)

Team Photo (scan 2)

Management & History

1930 Tour Japan to Canada (note: the Japanese team arrived in Vancouver late in August, not November)


Schedule of Games


Additional Photos

The tour photographer was Stuart Thomson and some of his photos can be viewed on the Vancouver Archives at the following link – Stuart Thomson Rugby Archives

The Nippon Maple Leaf Cup

from Doug Sturrock’s book, “It’s a Try! The History of Rugby in Canada” [page 303]

In order to commemorate Canada’s visit to Japan, Shinkichi Tamura, president of the Japan Canada Society, presented the Nippon Maple Leaf Cup to president Smith prior to the second international at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine Stadium. At the time, the Cup was the most elaborate sports trophy ever made in Japan. Fashioned in Tsuiki cloisonne, an enamel art for which the Japanese were famous, the trophy was twenty-two inches high and mounted on a copper base. The design of Japanese maple leaves and alpine flowers in bold, colored relief was secured to the cup hammered out of solid metal. The head of the Ando Shippoten (Cloisonne Company) of Owaricho, Tokyo, personally drew and painted the design and fashioned, fitted and polished the trophy at his factory. 

During the 1930s, the Cup was used for competition a few times in Canada before putting it away for safekeeping during the war. Though David Hartman in Montreal and McGill University’s Peter Covo agreed in 1968 that it was secure in a Montreal Bank, it whereabouts remain unknown. 

Photo of Cup (photographer Stuart Thomson on left, Japan Manager Yasuyoshi Kawame centre, Canada’s Bill Wharton right)

Colourized photo by BCRN (note the AI process of colourizing may not be 100% historically accurate)

Posted in Front Page, History.

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