Richmond Rugby’s Minis & Juniors section have announced a partnership with the ground-breaking new Shibuya International Rugby Club in Tokyo.
Shibuya International Rugby Club (SIRC) was formed at the initiative of Koji Tokumasu – one of Japan’s leading rugby officials who did so much to bring the Rugby World Cup to the country – to promote the game at mini and junior level.
With 'open' rugby clubs virtually non-existent in the Japanese rugby landscape, the sport is focused around school, university and company affiliation. To help make the sport more accessible to all, Tokumasu – working with the British School in Tokyo – set up SIRC to coach the game at mini and junior level for both boys and girls. It now coaches both Japanese and international children.
The unique partnership with Richmond Rugby will mean players and coaches from both clubs can join training sessions and games when visiting either London or Tokyo, something that will be particularly useful for the English side during Rugby World Cup 2019.
Already the partnership has started working, with New Zealand SIRC coach Mike O'Neale visiting the Richmond Athletic Ground following the England v All Blacks game. He said: “It was invaluable for me to see the highly impressive set up at the Athletic Ground and compare notes on coaching systems and techniques with Gary Sloan, Chair of the Richmond FC Youth Section. It was a very instructive and enjoyable visit.”
Koji Tokumasu, who is pictured above with Rhino CEO Reg Clark, commented: “It is a massive boost for a young club like ours to form a partnership with such a historic and established one as Richmond, which is particularly well known in Japan as the club where the legendary Seiji Hirao played for a season in 1985/6, and, more recently, Japanese Women’s International Keiko Kato. We are looking forward to productive interaction between the clubs, and to learning a lot from Richmond.”
Jimmy Wallace, Commercial Director for Richmond Rugby, added: “We are delighted to create this unique partnership with Shibuya International Rugby Club ahead of the RWC 2019 when the eyes of rugby world will be focused on Japan and we hope that some of our members heading to Japan for the tournament will find time to visit Shibuya and enjoy their hospitality.”
Shibuya were recently shortlisted for this year's Rhino Grass Roots Rugby Award, due to be announced next month. Read the full story here