By TORU NAKAKOJI/ Senior Staff Writer
November 26, 2019 at 08:00 JST
Fans who were driven into a frenzy by Japan’s run to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup can have their spirits lifted again by a team that resembles the Brave Blossoms in spirit and background.
The Japanese national team, consisting of players and coaches with multinational backgrounds, united as “One Team,” capturing hearts and giving birth to the new term “rugby loss” after their magical World Cup run.
Now, picking up the ball will be players on a small Tokyo-based amateur team called the Tokyo Gaijin Rugby Football Club, known as Tokyo Gaijin.
The club was established in 1991 with the aim of bringing foreigners living in Japan and Japanese nationals together to build a community.
About 30 to 40 members have been actively involved in the club, which belongs to the Capital Rugby Football Union, a league consisting of 20 teams of working adults who want to continue to enjoy playing rugby.
About half of the Tokyo Gaijin players came to Japan from countries including Australia, New Zealand, United States and Britain for reasons including student exchange programs and working holiday programs.
One of the players is Mosese Rarasea, who came to Japan in 2010 from Fiji.
Rarasea, 35, who married a Japanese woman, initially played on a Japanese amateur team as the only foreigner but joined Tokyo Gaijin in 2011.
Playing with people from other countries is a valuable experience for him, Rarasea said. He especially enjoys making friends from all over the world.
Tomohiro Setoguchi, 35, has been playing for the club since 2013.
“I have learned to respect people with different perspectives through my favorite sport,” Setoguchi said.
“Japanese players tend to prepare thoroughly, trying not to get too relaxed. But foreign players think the other way around. For them, it’s harder to turn the switch on if they never loosen up,” he observed.
“Such differences blend well during a rugby game, making the team united toward one common goal,” Setoguchi said.
Thanks to the recent rugby fever generated by the World Cup, the club has welcomed new members, although for a limited time only, who came to watch the World Cup.
The club played a friendly match against a club team from France on Oct. 27. The French team was in Japan to see the World Cup, which fueled grassroots international exchanges through an oval sphere.
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