Monday, April 16, 2012



Ian McDonnell (RiJ) is based in Japan.

RiJ was back in Tokyo over the weekend for the Sanwaku tournament at Chichi and then the 53rd YC&AC Japan Sevens in Yokohama on Sunday.

Enjoy the read.

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The53rd YC&AC Japan Sevens 2012

YC&AC Make it FOUR in a row.

The YC&AC Japan Sevens was held on Sunday, 8 April 2012 at the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club facilities in Yokohama.

The YC&AC, the Kanto Rugby Football Union and the Kanagawa Prefecture Rugby Football Union hosted the event.

The participating teams were: Tokai University, Aoyama Gakuin University, Takushoku University, YC&AC, Kanto Gakuin University, Keio University, Nippon Sport Science University, Kurita,Ryutsu Keizai University, Waseda University, Kamaishi Seawaves, Teikyo University, Tsukuba University, Tamariva Club, Chuo University and Canon Eagles.

In the last game of the day, hosts YC&AC made it four in a row when they managed to hold off a resurgent Tsukuba University in the final to win 28-24. Earlier in the day, YC&AC beat Takushoku University 40-0, Tokai University 33-0 Kurita 54-0 to romp their way into the final and the smart money must have been on the home team rattling up a big score again in the decider. On the other hand, plucky Tsukuba beat theTamariva Club 21-12, Canon 24-0 and Waseda University 17-5 to make it to the big one.

YC&AC had opened up a 21-5 lead at one point in the final and seemed to be cruising to an easy victory but the never-say-die students had other ideas and gave themselves a chance late in the game with the score standing at 28-24. In what proved to be the final play of the day, Tsukuba made a decisive break and were set to score the match winning try when the ball was jolted out of the grasp of the ball carrier by a desperate covering tackle from Ed Cocker. The final bell had already sounded and with the ball knocked on referee Taizo Hirabayashi blew time allowing the much relieved YC&AC to claim the win.

Teams for the final

YC&AC:1- Kane Hancy (c), 2- Edwin Cocker, 3- Jimmy Maher, 4- Rocky Kahn, 5- JackWilson, 6- Joe Fisher, 7- Ben Patu, 8- Mike Griffin, 9- Adrian Bell, 10-Katsumi Matsuo, 11- Aran Delaney and 12- Brimman Frazer. Coach: Simon Ryan.

Tsukuba University: 1- Masakatsu Hikosaka (c), 2- Yoshikatsu Hikosaka, 3-Shota Mizukami, 4- Masataka Tsuruya, 5- Sho Takenaka, 6- Yoshihiro Sononaka, 7-Keisuke Uchida, 8- Masafumi Kushiyama, 9- Noriaki Nakazuru, 10- HajimeYamashita, 11- Shinshichiro Matsushita and 12- Ko Yamashita. Coach: Takuo Furukawa.

In the Consolation Final, Takushoku University beat Tamariva Club 54-17.

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Interview with Paul Hodder

On Sunday, 8 April 2012 RiJ interviewed Paul Hodder the head coach at Kamaishi Sea waves during a break in proceedings at the YC&AC Japan Sevens. For the record, Kamaishi beat Teikyo University19-17 in their first game, then were knocked out by Waseda University in their next game by the same score with a try to the students in the last few seconds.

Q: Please tell us a little about your background before arriving at Kamaishi.

‘Growing up I represented New Zealand at both cricket and rugby at age group levels and then I decided to give cricket ago and then ended up in England for about 12 years. I then returned to Hamilton in the Waikato region in New Zealand and was rugby development manager at Waikato for about ten years and ended up being high performance manager with the Waikato Rugby Union.’

Q: How long have you been at Kamaishi?

‘This is my third year just starting. I started in May 2010 as an assistant coach and then head coach last year.’

Q: What is your role as head coach across the year at Kamaishi?

‘We have about twelve professionals and I look after them during the day. They train during the day as other players work for Nippon Steel and other various companies in the area. We are a club and we are community based and certainly one of our key roles after the earthquake was to pay back the community that had been affected so badly.’

Q: Tell us about rugby at Kamaishiand what it means to the town.

‘There’s obviously a lot of history. Back in the 1980s in the Nippon Steel days Kamaishi won seven National Championships in a row. Then back in 2001 the company pulled back and Kamaishi Seawaves Rugby Football Club was created to keep rugby alive in that northern area. We are a bit isolated and it’s a big long trip for us to get here, but we’re famous for our steel, we’re famous for our fish and we’re obviously famous for our rugby.Everyone that knows about Kamaishi knows about the Nippon Steel days of rugby and our biggest challenge is to create a new era, certainly after the tsunami.’

Q: Where were you on 11 March 2011 at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami?

‘I was in Kamaishi. We were lucky enough that our ground and apartments are about seven kilometres from the coast. Obviously we felt the earthquake and that was the first time I had been in a major earthquake and, yeah, we didn’t really know because we lost all power and communications and we didn’t really know that the tsunami was that big. I think people all over the world saw pictures before we did but then some of the boys started to congregate at the clubhouse and we started to realise how big the catastrophe was. It was very disturbing but as a group we bonded together, we stuck together and then we got in and helped our community that had helped us. It was a very important time for us, we were not thinking about rugby, just about how we could help our community.’

Q: One year on, how has the town and rugby recovered?

The town is recovering, but it takes time.There is a lot of demolition, people are in temporary housing, businesses are in temporary accommodation, but life is moving on and that is a really positive thing. For Kamaishi rugby too, we want to move on, everything this year has been about being positive. For next season we have not set any goals yet, we are still waiting for a few players to come back but we are excited about the season ahead.

Q: What are the ambitions at Kamaishi Seawaves rugby?

The overall ambition is to make Top League and to be the first club team to do so. We are a club, we are not company funded and however long it takes to make Top League, I don’t know, but I know that if we keep growing the way we have over the past few years that I have been involved it won’t be too far away.

Q: Players to watch at the club?

I think the two new foreign players that we have brought in for this year, Rota Setu who is an Australian boy, he’s had a couple of caps for Samoa, he looks to be an exciting midfield, outside back and Andrew Stead who is a No8, Canterbury based but also played for Otago a bit last year. Plus we have a core group of players who have been here the past few years under my reign and they’ve grown every day. They are pushing themselves and they are going to the next level and one of our key things as the club is that we want to get to that next level.

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60th Sanwaku Tournament

On Saturday 7th and Sunday 8thApril 2012 at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo the 60thSanwaku Tournament was held.

The annual Sanwaku Tournament involves the Fuwaku Rugby Club based in the Kanto area, the Wakuwaku Rugby Club based in the Kansai area and the Meiwaku Rugby Club based in the Kyushu area. The concept ofWaku rugby is a Japan wide network of rugby for seniors. Teams are formed according to age with the Over 40s wearing white shorts, the Over 50s blue shorts, the Over 60s red shorts, the Over 70s yellow shorts and the Over 80spurple shorts. In the Sanwaku Tournament, generally for fairness and evenness of playing standard teams of similar age groups and shorts colours play each other.

The first tournament was held at the Heiwadai Stadium in Fukuoka in late February 1951 and although no tournament was held in 1952, the event has taken place every spring since, except for 2012when the tournament was cancelled due to the Great East Japan Earthquake. The tournament rotates across the three regions with Fuwaku hosting the event this year at Chichibu in Tokyo with Wakuwaku set to be hosts in Osaka in 2013.

This writer attended the first day of the tournament on Saturday to watch the Over 60s, Over 70s and Over 80s in action.The Over 40s and then the Over 50s were set to play on Sunday. The highlight of the day for was the Over 80s East versus West match. The sides had 42registered players apiece for the match with the oldest player on the East side89 while the oldest player on the West side was a spritely 90 years old. The game kicked off at 12:30 and was played over two 15 minute halves and one has to admit that this was one of the best games of rugby viewed in many a long year. Yes, the pace was not too fast, the hits not too big and the passes and kicks were not too long but as a captivating rugby spectacle one was left with an aura of spellbound awe.

Once former top level referee Noboru‘Nobby’ Mashimo, the current vice-president of the Japan Rugby Football Union who himself is in his mid 70s blew his whistle to start the match it was game on and it was played with as much intensity and commitment as any game of rugby ever played. The tackles were meant to hurt and the set pieces and the breakdown were fiercely contested and the numerous 50, 60 metre run away tries were a sight to behold. In the end, this writer cannot remember which side won,and in all reality that was irrelevant, but the feeling that one was left with was: ‘Why can’t this game be played as a curtain-raiser to a Japan test match?’The value of this kind of game to the Japan rugby community is beyond calculation and should be made available to everyone to see. When one thinks about it, the collective rugby experience of the 84 gentlemen involved in this match surely must be measured in the thousands and thousands of years.

The after match function upstairs in the JRFU building was just as fiercely contested with the beers disappearing at a rapid pace as these aging guardians of Japanese rugby got up there with their glowing red faces to sing their teams songs with gusto and then wander off into the Tokyo dusk to carry on in those locals little bars till closing time.

Look out Osaka. The grey haired rugby boys who still think they are 20 and bullet proof are heading your way next.

Long live rugby.

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Odds& Sods

Odds & Sods brings the reader weekly news shorts, gossip and general happenings from the world of Rugby in Japan.

News in Japan: Catching the headlines in Japan this week are:

IRB ranking on 02 April 2012 - Japan was 14 on 70.45 points.


Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead gives the reader future dates for the diaryand other great things to look forward to in Rugby in Japan.


Into the Future

With the IRB working towards re-introducing traditional long tours there will be spin-offs for Japan in the lead-up to this country hosting the 2019 RWC. Although it is not set in concrete, a bevy of tier one countries are pencilled in to tour Japan with Wales touring in2013, Scotland in 2016, Ireland in 2017 and Italy in 2018.

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IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2012

The U20 age-grade IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2012 is to be held at Murray Rugby Park Stadium in Salt Lake City in the United States of America from 18-30 June 2012.

The eight participating teams are divided into two pools of four teams each with Chile, Russia, Tonga and hosts the USA in Pool A, while Canada, Georgia, Japan and Zimbabwe will fight out Pool B.

Pool A

Pool B


Day 1: Monday 18 June 2012

Japan v Zimbabwe
Kick-off: 12:00 (local time).

Chile v Russia
Kick-off: 14:00 (local time).

Georgia v Canada
Kick-off: 16:00 (local time).

USA v Tonga
Kick-off: 18:00 (local time).

Day 2: Friday 22 June 2012

Georgia v Zimbabwe
Kick-off: 12:00 (local time).

Japan v Canada
Kick-off: 14:00 (local time).

Tonga v Russia
Kick-off: 16:00 (local time).

USA v Chile
Kick-off: 18:00 (local time).

Day 3: Tuesday 26 June 2012

Canada v Zimbabwe
Kick-off: 12:00 (local time).

Japan v Georgia
Kick-off: 14:00 (local time).

Tonga v Chile
Kick-off: 16:00 (local time).

USA v Russia
Kick-off: 18:00 (local time).

Day 4: Saturday 30 June 2012

7th Place Play-off
4th Pool A v 4th Pool B
Kick-off: 12:00 (local time).

5th Place Play-off
3rd Pool A v 3rd Pool B

Kick-off: 14:00 (local time).
3rd Place Play-off
2nd Pool A v 2nd Pool B
Kick-off: 16:00 (local time).


1st Pool A v 1st Pool B
Kick-off: 18:00 (local time).

Japan High Schools 2012

The Japan High Schools will tour Italy and France from 11-28 March 2012.


Game 1:

Italy U20 B v Japan High Schools
Date: Wednesday 14 March 2012
Venue: San Bartolo a Cintoia, Firenze, Italy
Kick-off: 15:00 (local time)

Game 2:

Italy U18 v Japan High Schools
Date: Sunday 18 March 2012
Venue: xxxx, Italy
Kick-off: 14:00 (local time)

Game 3:

France U18 v Japan High Schools
Date: Thursday 22 March 2012
Venue: TBC, France
Kick-off: 19:00 (local time)

Game 4:

Toulouse Academy U18 v Japan High Schools
Date: Sunday 25 March 2012
Venue: Stade Toulouse (training field), France
Kick-off: 15:00 (local time)

26-man Japan High Schools Squad 2012






Loose Heads

Yuji Ueki

Josho Gakuen



Genki Sudo





Atsushi Sakate

Kyoto Seisho



Shunta Nakamura

Toin Gakuen



Tight Heads

Shohei Hirano

Higashi Fukuoka



Kohei Asahori

Kyoto Seisho




Onesema Hafoka

JAL Ishikawa



Wataru Kobayashi

Meidai Nakano




Takahiro Fujita

Aomori Kita



Kazuki Azuma

Kyoto Seisho



Takahiro Kimura

Higashi Fukuoka



Yuto Ueda

Tokai Gyosei








Ryota Hasegawa

JAL Ishikawa




Takahiro Kaneko

Kokugakuin Tochigi



Atsushi Yumoto

Tokai Gyosei




Kazuhiro Goya

Ryutsudai Kashiwa



Takuya Yamasawa





Hideto KONDO

Tokai Gyosei



Takahito Kunai




Chihito Matsui

Josho Gakuen




Kohei Nishimae

Gose Jitsugyo



Shumpei Hotta




Kota Kii




Rikiya Matsuda





Issei Shige

Josho Gakuen




Manager: Yoshiaki Maeda (JRFU).
Assistant manager: Shigeyuki Tanizaki (Higashi Fukuoka).
Head coach: Hideyuki Matsui (Ryukei Kashiwa).
Forwards coach: Noriyuki Yokota (Fukaya).
Backs coach: Naoki Kamitani (Tenri Kyoko Gakuen).
Technical: Akihiro Hoshino.

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