Ayumu Goromaru, now a businessman: “Eventually, I’ll aim to become president. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ayumu Goromaru, now a businessman: “Eventually, I’ll aim to become president.

The team is in a difficult situation, having yet to play a single match in the new league due to a mass infection of the new coronavirus...

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GOROMARU exchanges business cards in his jacket. On the day of this magazine’s visit, he even took a break from the interview to greet a visitor.

It’s been less than a year since Goromaru ended his 32-year active career. Less than a year after ending his 32-year career as a professional rugby player, the man who sparked a new boom in the Japanese rugby world, which had been in a slump in popularity, can no longer do without his business cards and computer. Ayumi Goromaru (35), whose title is CRO (Club Relations Officer) for the Shizuoka Blue Revs, is working for a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha Motor, to which Goromaru belonged when the “League One” season began in January.

I’m mainly involved in ticket sales. I’m in the office from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. on some days, so I don’t have time to watch rugby. …… It’s a completely different life than when I was on the field, but it’s fun. I’m on fire,” said Goromaru.

GOROMARU has no intention of returning to the pitch as a coach, even though he was instrumental in Japan’s first-ever World Cup victory over South Africa, the two-time world champions at the time, at the prestigious Waseda University and Yamaha Motor Jubilo. Goromaru said he wanted to blaze a trail unprecedented in rugby by having a former player in management at the Revs, who are trying to build a professional club before any other team. I want to be able to eventually become the president of this team,” he said.

For Goromaru, the “big boss” is Takushi Yamaya, 51, president of the club. Takushi Yamaya, 51, is a businessman who launched the club into the Japanese Basketball League and led the struggling club to promotion to the B1 League. He spoke to Goromaru when he was thinking about life after retirement.

He told Goromaru, who was thinking about life after retirement, “First of all, my job is to make sure you stay with this team. But there is no point in hiring you if you are going to work for me as a ‘decoration’ or as a celebrity. Let’s do it right, starting with carrying bags and selling a single ticket.

These words “lit a fire inside me for the first time in a long time,” said Goromaru.

In the words of President Yamatani, “Selling tickets is just as important as making the team stronger. Until now, rugby has had a strong corporate flavor and has been a “club activity” owned by world-class companies such as Yamaha and Toyota. The companies raised the budget and protected the position of the employees who were members of the club. League One, however, does not rely on corporations and aims to have each team earn its own revenue. Goromaru is playing a part in earning the funds.

Tickets up to 250,000 yen

The Revs’ first home game will be against Tokyo Suntory Corallias at Yamaha Stadium on January 23. Goromaru immediately came up with a plan and appealed directly to President Yamatani, “Please let me do it. He negotiated alone to sell tickets for the game, which included accommodation for two days and one night.

Since there are many affluent people who watch rugby, he also created a plan for a maximum of 250,000 yen per person. 70 tickets were prepared and sold out immediately after they went on sale.

The fact that they sold out so quickly is proof that people are interested in the new league, but now we have to do the job we’ve been entrusted with and earn their trust. We are aiming to fill the 15,000-seat stadium for the home opener, and we only sold 70 tickets, so we have a long way to go.

President Yamatani said of Goromaru’s work.

Yamatani said of Goromaru’s work, “I was going to tell him clearly if there was anything he could do to improve the situation, but he was able to sell the tickets on his own, with the expectation of a profit and a reasonable plan. I feel he is quite good.”

The sales sense Goromaru displayed this time is probably not unrelated to the experience he had in 2010 when, in the aftermath of the Lehman shock, Yamaha decided to downsize its rugby team and Goromaru switched from a professional contractor to an employee. When Goromaru was assigned to the Public Relations and Advertising Department, not everyone was very friendly or understanding of rugby. How do you get along with people who have a different background from you?

Goromaru was faced with the same problem that all salarymen face: how to deal with people who are different from you. However, when he tried to face his interpersonal issues instead of running away from them, and tried to take on tasks that his colleagues were reluctant to do, the way they looked at him changed.

It’s quite interesting to bring people who seem to be on the opposite side of the spectrum to my side,” he says.

What is Goromaru aiming for in his work now?

I want to see Japanese players earning more than 100 million yen a year. I want the team to be able to produce such players. I want to make an organization that can pay players a price that will satisfy them while they are playing.”

In baseball and soccer, there are players who are paid 100 million yen a year as a matter of course, but in the case of rugby, there are only a few in the world. In the case of rugby, there are only a few players in the world. 15 players clash with 15 others on the pitch, and the team needs to have nearly 50 players alone, with the risk of injury. On the other hand, they can only play once a week, and if they don’t make it to the top of League One, which starts in January, they will only play 16 games. Compared to baseball and soccer, the number of games is small and the opportunities to earn money are limited, which is a headache for the management. However, they want to develop the game into a “profitable” game in the future.

Goromaru, who has shown his strength in adversity, will continue to sweat off the pitch so that people can feel the dream of rugby, not him.

His main job is selling tickets, but he has also taken part in meetings about the food menu to be sold to spectators at Yamaha Stadium.
His hobby is fishing. Even when he was an active player, he would go to the sea when he was troubled. Through his work, he hopes to convey the good qualities of Shizuoka, which has both mountains and the sea (Photo: Courtesy of Shizuoka Blue Revs)

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From the January 21, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Yuri Tanimoto, courtesy of Shizuoka Blue Revs (3rd photo)

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