Rugby the Japanese way

31 Jan 2018

Year 12 student Zach Gallagher – along with six of his fellow rugby players – was thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to Ota City, Japan, for an intensive training workshop with the Panasonic Wild Knights, one of the premier teams in the Japanese Top League. “It was awesome, an incredible experience. They were so welcoming, involving us in everything – their team runs, skills training, review sessions and trials. We got lots of one-on-one time with the players, focusing on specific skills. It blew me away.”

Zach says it was fascinating to get a perspective on coaching and training in another country. “It’s made me more motivated seeing the way the Japanese players approach the game. As well as team work, they also focus on their own skills development, with plenty of individual attention from the coaches. It made me realise if you want to be really good, you’ve got to hone in on the details and focus on quality.”

As well as training with the Panasonic Wild Knights, the boys also visited Gakushuin School in Tokyo and Fukaya High School, where they discovered a key difference between high school rugby in New Zealand vs Japan. “We played full-on contact rugby on a shingle field, which was a new – and painful – experience. It was a hard surface to play on. Some of us got very sore, with cuts and bruises and gravel in our mouths. Not so good at the time, but quite funny in retrospect.”

Zach loved every aspect of the Japanese trip and the insight it gave into another culture and way of life. He is grateful that Year 12 student Shun Miyake was happy to act as unofficial translator for the group and introduce his home country to his peers. The boys can now apply the skills they have gained in the College context, and Zach says he is already looking forward to the season ahead.

The Panasonic Wild Knights are coached by former Crusaders coach and Old Boy Robbie Deans. The trip was organised by Master in Charge of Rugby Stephen Dods, who was keen for College players to have a cultural and rugby experience in Japan. He was delighted when Robbie and the Panasonic Wild Knights agreed to host the boys in their high performance centre. “It gave our boys a real education in leadership, performance and techniques used in the professional rugby environment. They learned so much.”

The boys were away from Sunday 3 to Tuesday 19 December 2017.