Tokyo-based Shibuya International Rugby Club has beaten a world-class field of community-driven rugby organisations to win the 2018 Rhino Grass Roots Rugby Award.

Shibuya International Rugby Club (SIRC) were joined on the strongest-ever shortlist for the prestigious award by SOS Kit Aid, Balkans Lynx Rugby Club and United World Games. 

SIRC is the brainchild of prominent Japanese rugby administrator Koji Tokumasu, recent President of Asia Rugby and longstanding JRFU official, who played a key role in bringing the Rugby World Cup to Japan. 

The Japanese rugby club picked up the award for being truly inclusive. In a country which lacks public playing fields, and where rugby clubs are mostly centred on schools, universities and companies SIRC, is a rarity – a new open club based in a specific locality and one which is moreover, currently focused on mini and junior rugby for boys and girls.

In announcing the award, Rhino CEO Reg Clark said: “SIRC addresses a major developmental issue for Japanese rugby by encouraging the game for boys and girls at an early stage and being open, not confined to players from particular institutions.

“Koji has operated at the highest levels in international rugby administration but he has shown by this initiative his passionate commitment also to contributing to grass roots development of the game in Japan. Developing interest in rugby amongst the young is a major target for RWC2019 and SIRC is a great example of how that might happen.”

Koji Tokumasu said: “Shibuya International Rugby Club is delighted to have won this prestigious award. We hope it will boost our profile internationally and our ability to attract visitors to Tokyo to join our club to play and coach.”

The award was presented in London to SIRC club stalwarts the Hickinbotham family who are in the UK for the festive season – Eddie, Benjy and Rosie, pictured in the main image with parents Emma and James – by Rhino CEO Reg Clark.

Other nominations for the award this year were:

  • SOS Kit Aid of the UK which over the last 18 years delivered over £6 million pounds worth of quality used and new rugby kit to 44 emerging rugby nations.
  • United World Games based in Klagenfurt in Austria which has included rugby for the last 7 years in its Junior Olympic style gathering attracting participants from over 40 nations.
  • Balkans Lynx Rugby Club based in Pristina – Kosovo’s first ever women’s rugby team, who have done so much since formation not just for rugby but for wider society in that country.

Reg Clark further commented:  “We would like to congratulate all the nominees and in particular to give a Highly Commended position to SOS Kit Aid – a tremendous organisation which would be a worthy winner in any year.”
For more information on SIRFC, visit

If you'd like to nominate an organisation for the 2019 award, email
Previous winners of the Rhino Grassroots Rugby Award
2015                TAG RUGBY TRUST (UK)
2016                KAMPUCHEA BALOPP (Cambodia)
2017                SKRUM (Swaziland)

Rhino Grass Roots Rugby Award

Alex Mead