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May 27, 2019

Conveying the fun of playing rugby to children!
Higashikurume Municipal Chuo Junior High School Sports Promotion Education Program

The Rugby World Cup--one of the three top international sporting championships alongside the Olympic/Paralympic Games and the Soccer World Cup--is being held in September this year in Japan.

The first Rugby World Cup to be held in in Asia, these championships will draw huge worldwide attention, presenting 48 matches over 44 days at 12 venues nationwide. In addition to fostering the spread and development of rugby, this event is expected to generate both tangible and intangible heritage in the sense of promoting a diverse rage of sports within Japan and invigorating regional economies.

This is an interview as of May 2019.

Exchange between male junior high school students and members of NTT Communications'rugby football club and an active referee

Large-scale international sporting events provide an excellent opportunity for nurturing children's global perspectives.

Located in Tokyo, Higashikurume Municipal Chuo Junior High School is pouring effort into education promoting the Olympic/Paralympic Games, and had previously conducted various other special classes in which Olympic athletes participated as instructors.

At the school's request, two members of NTT Communications'rugby football club Shining Arcs, Kazushi Hano and Harunori Tsuruya, as well as active referee Tasuku Kawahara, took part as instructors in a rugby education program the school conducted on January 23, 2019.

  • Image: Rugby player Harunori Tsuruya during the special class

  • Image: Rugby player Kazushi Hano during the special class

A total of 57 male First-Year students participated in the program. Although nearly all of students had never played rugby before, they gained an understanding of the rules and characteristics of the game as they listened intently to Mr. Kawahara's explanation.

After Mr. Kawahara's talk, a mini-game was played in which Mr. Hano and Mr. Tsuruya also took part. Some of the boys were somewhat bewildered when they handled the ellipsoid ball for the first time, but with the professional players providing instruction they soon gained proficiency handling the ball, and as they did so, they naturally called out to other boys around them, and so the workshop also led to improved communication.

Some students asked the professional players, "When did you begin playing rugby?" and showed surprise when Mr. Hano and Mr. Tsuruya--both of whom had switched to rugby from a different sport--explained that rugby is a sport in which you can become a top player even if you begin playing in junior high school or high school. With the boys responding with enthusiastic shouts to the players' call to "Take up rugby and join us!" the gymnasium echoed with the sound of happy voices.

  • Image: Kazushi Hano and Harunori Tsuruya showing the class how to handle the ball

  • Image: Kazushi Hano and Harunori Tsuruya participating in the mini-game that was held after the class

Knowing and experiencing a diverse, harmonious society through sports

Mr. Kawahara has refereed more than 40 times in 20 countries around the world, and was a referee for last year's World Rugby U20 Championship. In his talk, Mr. Kawahara touched on differences between the cultures of Japan and other countries while showing photographs from his trips overseas refereeing, explaining that going overseas provided opportunities for new experiences and expanded a person's potential through new awareness and knowledge based on these experiences.

He also explained that the Rugby World Cup being held in Japan in 2019 and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics would undoubtedly provide opportunities for children to take their first steps towards understanding the shape and thinking of a society in which a diversity of people--people of different genders, ages, nationalities, and abilities--can coexist in harmony.

NTT Communications' rugby football club Shining Arcs is also pouring effort into spreading, fostering, and developing rugby among elementary and junior high school students. We hold high expectations for Mr. Hano and Mr. Tsuruya to be selected for Japan's national rugby team, and continue to play important roles in the world of rugby in the future.

  • Image: Active referee Tasuku Kawahara presenting his talk

  • Image: Player Kazushi Hano interacting with students