Shibuya Rugby Club Hosts Richmond At World Cup In Japan


The partnership between Richmond Minis/Youths and Shibuya International Rugby Club was further cemented when the Japanese club celebrated its second anniversary by hosting a welcome party for Richmond Rugby last Friday in Tokyo.

Nick Preston led a party of more than 20 Richmond members and guests to the event at the magnificent Sky Bar at the Hilton Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Those in attendance included former Japanese Women’s 7s and 15s player Keiko Kato, who played for Richmond Women in 2014/15, and spoke warmly of her season spent at the Athletic Ground.

The RFU was represented by immediate past and current presidents, Chris Kelly and Peter Wheeler, Chairman Andy Coslett and CEO Bill Sweeney, amongst over 100 other attendees.

Both Nick Preston (who gamely addressed the assembly partly in Japanese) and Chris Kelly gave speeches, as did Reg Clark, CEO of Richmond Rugby partner, Rhino Rugby. 

Shibuya Rugby Club founder and leading Japanese rugby administrator Koji Tokumasu was applauded for playing a significant role in bringing the RWC to Japan and thanked Richmond for its continued support and generosity to his club.

One of the significant talking points at the event though was the discovery that one of the ‘godfathers’ of Japanese rugby, Shigeru Kayama, played for Richmond during an extended stay in the UK, while accompanying Prince Chichibu in the early 1920s.

Following his time in the UK, Kayama returned to become Japan’s first national coach and one of the leading lights behind the foundation of the Japan RFU in 1926. He was moreover the instigator of a romantic gesture; the early Japanese national shirts featured a three cherry blossom logo as seen today, but Kayama dictated that only two should be blossoming, with the other blossom closed until Japan was strong enough to compete with England on an equal basis. Something that was deemed to have happened by the 1950s.

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