Kazuki Himeno, captain of Japan’s national rugby team, helps his fellow teammates in need “even when they are physically and mentally drained”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Kazuki Himeno, captain of Japan’s national rugby team, helps his fellow teammates in need “even when they are physically and mentally drained”.

Japan's national rugby team will face Samoa tomorrow morning at 4:00 a.m. in a "battle that cannot be lost".

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
After the second half against England, when the team ran out of steam, HIMENO was not devastated by the shock of not winning, but instead thanked the Japan fans by clapping for them in the stands. The calm expression on his face is a sign of confidence in his ability to turn things around.

Kazuki Himeno is now the captain of the Japanese national team at the Rugby World Cup in France. He is currently working hard to make it to the top eight for the second consecutive tournament as a preliminary step toward his country’s first victory in the tournament.

He started the second qualifying pool match at the Stade de Nice on September 17. He made his first appearance in the tournament after recovering from discomfort in his left calf.

He played in the number eight position, the last row of the forward line, and received the ball eight times and kept going forward. In defense, he repeatedly got involved in the ball in his own end, and his 16 successful tackles were tied for the third most by either team. He showed that he is in good form.

It can be said that this was his best performance since mid-July, when he was unofficially named captain.

He said, “I’m in good shape. I hope I can keep going up and up and up and up.

The team lost 12-34 to the England team on the day of the match, so his expression was not very positive. Even so, there are certainly good signs for the upcoming matches against Samoa and Argentina on the 29th and onward.

He is 29 years old, standing 187 centimeters tall and weighing 108 kilograms. Off the field, he shows glimpses of the qualities that allow him to see what is going on around him. At his team, Toyota Verblitz, he is also gaining favor for the way he invites not only players but also young staff members for coffee.

One person who has been helped by this spirit is Kota Iwamura. He is a scrum half who joined Verblitz a year before HIMENO. HIMENO had helped him move to another team.

With the replacement of the head coach of Verblitz, Iwamura’s playing time was gradually reduced after the ’20 season. In order to make his limited playing time shine, he moved to leave the team and transfer to another team at the end of FY’21. Originally an employee player, he intended to turn into a professional rugby player in his new home.

It was his good friend Himeno who offered him a helping hand.

At the time, HIMENO was on a temporary transfer from Verblitz to the Highlanders in New Zealand. Nevertheless, Iwamura and I exchanged “line calls” and he introduced me to an agent company that supported HIMENO, who had already become a professional player.

The “line call,” by the way, was voice only, not screen.

The signal in New Zealand is not good,” he said.

HIMENO, who was struggling physically and mentally in an environment different from that of Japan, received support at the start of his career.

He was a good friend of mine, so he missed me, but he gave me a boost.

Thanks to an agent company that HIMENO worked with, Iwamura transferred to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Sagamihara Dynaboars. Last season, he was selected as the captain of the team. He was able to play twice against Verblitz, of which HIMENO is the captain.

The matchup, in which they won one game and lost one, was something that HIMENO himself was looking forward to, he said. In an interview before the match, he laughed and said, “I’m happy.

I am happy. I am extremely happy. When I was asked about it, I was one of the people who recommended the transfer, although of course I wanted to play with the same team. And now it has blossomed as the captain (of Dynaboars)…. I’m definitely going to go tackle them!”

An off-shot taken during Iwamura’s time at Toyota. Kazuki HIMENO is second from the right and Iwamura is second from the left (excerpt from Kota Iwamura’s Instagram @i_kota09).

HIMENO’s altruistic spirit will be put to good use in the Japan national team. Around the time this year’s activities began, he began working with Kenta Fukuda, also of the Toyota Verblitz and a first-time selection. This was also the case during this year’s tournament, when Fukuda was a reserve.

Fukuda is a member of the Toyota Verblitz, and he is working with Kenta Fukuda, who was selected for the first time.

First of all, I show them with my play. Not only in games but also in practice. All I have to do is play my best and show that I’m ready to play.

He emphasizes that his leadership is not about intentionally pulling others along, but rather a passionate attitude that naturally pulls others along with him. He must be telling himself this.

Ryudai, who was two years HIMENO’s senior at Teikyo University and will be the vice captain of this year’s team, adds, “HIMENO has an absurdly strong sense of responsibility. He knows that the best way to win together with HIMENO is not to let HIMENO’s care for him.

He often overthinks things, so I take the lead in my own way while letting him relax.

Shortly after graduating from college, HIMENO was selected as the captain of Verblitz. Iwamura, who supported HIMENO’s transfer, often went out to dinner with HIMENO from that time on. He would listen to the concerns of his fellow players with heavy responsibilities, such as, “I can’t get my seniors to listen to me.

Even now, on his days off, he goes on trips and excursions with HIMENO and other well-meaning friends. One day at Tokyo Disneyland, he even served as a “photographer” for HIMENO when he was noticed by a fan.

For Iwamura, who has known HIMENO for many years, HIMENO’s good and bad moods are “easy to see. Her good times and bad times show on her face. Apparently, he can tell from the quality of her skin on the screen.

If HIMENO is doing well in Iwamura’s eyes, then the Japan captain is guaranteed to play well at the World Cup.

Let’s see how HIMENO looks against Samoa at the Stadium de Toulouse on the evening of March 28 (local time).

  • Interview and text by Kazuya Mukafu

    Sportswriter Born in 1982 in Toyama Prefecture. Graduated from Seijo University, Faculty of Literature and Arts, Department of Arts, and has been working as a sports writer since 2006. He has been working as a sportswriter since 2006, mainly covering rugby. He is the author of "Sunwolves no Chosen, Super Rugby: Tsuyouru Wolves no Kiroku" (Sunwolves' Challenge, Super Rugby: Record of the Fighting Wolves) published by Futabasha.

  • PHOTO Aki Nagao (1st photo)

Photo Gallery2 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles