A former fourth-string warrior who graduated from an obscure public high school” who led the Teikyo University rugby team to reclaim its championship | FRIDAY DIGITAL

A former fourth-string warrior who graduated from an obscure public high school” who led the Teikyo University rugby team to reclaim its championship

How did Ryodai Shirakuni, who came from a high school with no history of participation in the Hanazono, win his way through the elite corps?

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Teikyo University’s Shirakuni scored three tries on the highest stage to decide Japan’s top university. It was a moment when the hardships that only someone from an obscure high school could understand were rewarded (Photo: Aki Nagao)

The final of the University Rugby Championship was held at the National Stadium in Tokyo on January 9, and Teikyo University won the championship for the tenth time in four years. While the members of the team came from some of the most powerful schools in Japan, Ryota Shirakuni, who scored three tries, is a gem of an “unmarked” player. He had never participated in the national tournament when he was a student at Osaka Prefectural Settsu High School, and when he joined Teikyo University, he played for the “D team,” the fourth team. He was also plagued by injuries. Even so, he grasped the glory with his speed and guts.

I never thought I would get in.

It must have been an honest thought.

I don’t really feel it, but I’m honored to be here, and I’m happy.

He was interviewed with his back to the grass of the National Stadium after his last game as a student.

Shirakuni, the No. 14 player, scored a hat trick in the 27-14 win over Meiji University.

The first was in the 13th minute of the first half. In the 13th minute of the first half, he received a ball in the space on the right of the enemy 22-meter area. He cut inside and made it past two players. Based on the fact that he had shown a lot of inward steps in the previous games, he said, “I faked to the outside and tried to go inside. By making use of his instantaneous match experience, he made the score 10-0.

In the following 34 minutes, he received an off-load pass from junior Akito Okui, closer to the goal line than the first one. In the 34th minute, he received an offload pass from his junior Akito Okui, closer to the goal line than the first one. I was able to have a good image with Okui.

It was a long run just before halftime that sealed the victory. Right near the halfway line, he was confronted by a developing attack by his opponent. As soon as he saw the pass in front of him, he quickly intercepted it and ran 50 meters alone.

He made it 20-0 with this one scene and played the rest of the 40 minutes without making a change.

In the beginning, the days were tough, but I made a conscious effort to never stop trying.

I was a karate boy. He started playing rugby in the first year of junior high school and entered Teikyo University after graduating from Settsu High School in his hometown. He entered Teikyo University after graduating from Settsu High School in his hometown, where he had won nine consecutive university championships until just before entering the university.

His two sons are also graduates of Teikyo University. The two sons are also graduates of Teikyo University. I introduced Shirakuni, who had been active in 7-man tournaments in the prefecture, to Masayuki Iwade, who was retiring at the end of this season. Shirakuni was surprised. I liked Teikyo University because it was strong, but I didn’t realize it was a place I could join.

While still in high school, he came to Tokyo to join the practice sessions and was attracted by the older students who were attending to him, so he knocked on the door. What awaited him here was a tough reality.

On the club’s website, there is a record of what would have been Shirakuni’s first practice match.

On April 15, 2018, he was registered as “No. 57” in the reserve team for a game played between the third and fourth armies. Considering that there were 47 players in the “ABs,” the first and second teams at that time, and that union rugby is a 15-man game, the road to becoming a regular player looks rough.

Kenta Yamaji, who served as the captain of last year’s team, said that in a way, Shirakuni stood out when he first entered the school. He was 165 centimeters tall. He was 165 centimeters tall and weighed at least 10 kilograms less than the current official weight of 74 kilograms. In a club full of muscular club members, it was rather unusual to see a small, thin junior member.

However, Yamaji was soon impressed by his future hero.

Before becoming a senior, Shirakuni suffered from injuries. It was especially hard on him when he broke the back of his right foot in his sophomore year. While several of his classmates were starting to play well in games, he was working with other injured players in a “rehabilitation group. In the corner of the field, he worked out steadily, stretching, core training, and abdominal exercises.

Since the “rehab group” is not so visible to the public, there seems to be a difference in attitude. Yamaji said that he had the impression that Shirakuni never slacks off.

I’ve seen him dare to leave the place where other injured people are gathering and concentrate on his own menu.

Teikyo University players chew over their tenth title in four years; for the fourth-year students, it was their first collegiate Japan championship (photo: Aki Nagao)

Once you join Teikyo University, you are a “challenger” whether you are a high school prospect or an unknown player.

Their diligence was also seen off the field.

Members of the Teikyo University team are assigned various “duties” by their seniors, and Shirakuni joined the “players’ duty. He had to spend a lot of time outside of practice hours, loading the necessary luggage into the car and setting up the locker room at the venue on the day of the game.

Yamaji said, “I can’t give any preference to one section over another, but it’s definitely an important section,” and Shirakuni joined the post with the endorsement that he was “thoughtful” and “serious.

For the chief secretary, who is in charge of supporting the field and the leaders, cooperation with the “players’ section” is essential. Yamaji trusted Shirakuni, who was quick to respond to his work and carefully taught his work to the younger players.

Even though he couldn’t play in games, I think he was able to think about how he could help the team.

Shirakuni was also a keen researcher. After practice, he used to have one-on-one duels with Tomoya Kimura, a classmate of Yamaji’s and a mainstay of the team since his first year. He tried to learn the techniques from his older colleague, who was in the same wing position and had the same height as him.

Behind his talk after the final about “never stopping the effort itself,” there was a concrete accumulation of effort.

Shirakuni was promoted to the first team for the first time in his fourth year, and eventually defended his position to the end. When asked why he gained the trust of the top brass, he cited a different factor than running.

Hard work. He said, “It’s about hard work, about never giving up, about playing through to the end. I think that’s why they used me.

Teikyo University has always had members in the triple digits. Even those from prestigious schools don’t necessarily touch the first jersey, and Yamaji says, “We don’t think of it in terms of ’00 high school’ (to measure ability).

Second-year hooker Sasa Eira, who plays in the front row of the scrum, also talks about his experience of winning the national championship in his second year at Osaka Toin.

The stage is different between high school and college. (The stage is different between high school and college, and players who have experienced being the best in Japan (in high school) can still be challengers (in college).

Both the underclassmen, who are considered elite, and the upperclassmen, who come from unknown schools, share the same sense of being a “challenger” aiming to compete and reach the top.

Yes. Shirakuni, who exploded in the final game, is not a “star of an unknown school. He was one of the most trusted 23 players among all the “Challengers”.

(Titles omitted in the text)

  • Reporting and writing by Kazamiya Mukai

    Sports writer Born in Toyama Prefecture in 1982. Has been active as a sports writer since 2006. He has been active as a sports writer since 2006, mainly covering rugby. Author of The Challenge of the Sunwolves: Super Rugby: Records of the Fighting Wolves (Futabasha).

  • Photography Aki Nagao

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