Calligraphy skills of 20-year-old Dianes expected to make Rugby World Cup squad
He is a candidate for one of the most prominent stars in Japanese rugby. Warner Dianes, a 20-year-old from New Zealand, made his debut for the national team last fall. He is blessed with good size, standing 201 cm tall and weighing 117 kg, and moves diligently. A unique athlete who won a prize for excellence in the “Calligraphy Koshien,” as it is commonly called, when he was a student at Ryukei University Kashiwa High School, Dianes will use the attitude of a master athlete as a model to help him make his mark at the World Cup in France in 2023.
His Japanese lacks the accent of English speakers. He came to Japan at the age of 14 after his father, Grant, became the S&C coach for NEC (as it was then called). He now intones “yo you” in the manner of today’s youth.
The topic of conversation is his memories of his days at Ryukei University Kashiwa High School in Chiba, which he entered after attending Abiko Rugby School.
Dianes has followed the oval ball, which he was familiar with along with basketball in his home country, to the Asian island nation. Recently, he has been training three times a day with his current team, the Toshiba BlazBlue Pass. He laughs, however, that the “on-campus training camp” held in his third year of high school was more difficult for him.
It was “yes, and the on-campus camp was harder,” he said.
The “on-campus camp” took place in the summer of 2020. It was an alternative to the annual Sugadaira camp, which had become impossible due to the spread of the new coronavirus.
The “four-part training” was repeated for about 10 days at a ground in Chiba under the scorching sun with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. Running, position-specific training, and battle-style sessions were repeated.
What made the training tough was that it was tough even during breaks.
After lunch, many club members could take a nap in the nearby Ryuhokan dormitory. Diane, on the other hand, who commuted from home….
I was in the club room all the time, playing with my cell phone. There was no air conditioner. There were about 10 commuters, all gathered under one fan.
He overcame the trials unique to Japanese club activities. He also had a unique experience in his daily life as a student. Calligraphy.
The “Regular Course Sports Preparatory Course” at Ryukei University Kashiwa High School, where Dianes was enrolled, seems to spend a lot of class time on calligraphy, perhaps with the aim of improving students’ concentration.
The teacher in charge of the course, Yasuhiro Tokumura, had previously taught Nauru Chosateki, the Fijian representative in the 81-kilogram men’s judo weight class at the London Olympics.
He said, “You can’t cheat when it comes to writing big letters. You have to drop the brush over your own head, move your elbows wide, and write with your body.”
Dianes, who took classes three times a week in his third year, possessed those qualities.
With three thick brushes bunched together, he wrote “dragon and phoenix,” a reference to the rugby club dormitory, and after two semesters of classes that began in late August and special training in a separate room, he exhibited his work at the “29th International High School Students’ Calligraphy Exhibition.
The thick lines and blotches in the calligraphy give a dynamic impression.
Tokumura found a unique “sense of rhythm” in Dian’s work, which was created by facing a half-sheet of paper. One of the tricks is to change the speed of the brush stroke depending on the line to be drawn, and Dianes has found the right balance between the two in his own way.
Through his calligraphy, Dianes was able to imagine a talent for rugby that was outside his field of expertise.
He writes fast and slow. It’s all about breathing and rhythm. He is athletic, so he can take it in his stride. Kids who are athletic and have a good sense of rhythm will grow (in calligraphy as well).”
Dianes, who grew more than 15 cm in height during his high school years, is “like a made in New Zealand computer with a Japanese chip,” according to Ryota Ai, the coach of his high school rugby team. After graduation, he joined Toshiba, where he was trained by a 33-year-old colleague.
Reach Michael. Diane Diane’s role model is Leach Michael, who, like himself, came out of high school in Japan and has gone on to lead Japan to two consecutive World Cups by 2019.
He’s the kind of person you want to go above and beyond, giving 100 percent in practice and in every game.”
Dianes also absorbs knowledge from the younger players who study under Leach.
Although he did not make his official debut in the Top League at the time, he participated in Japan’s national team activities last fall. One of his roommates on the tour of Ireland was Ben Gunter, a 24-year-old member of the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights, who advanced to the League One playoff tournament that began on May 21. He also has a lot of respect for Leach, who plays flanker.
Dianes was impressed by the way Gunter, a senior player, checks all the team’s signing plays and training videos before and after daily practice. When we asked him about his intentions, he told us, “By doing this, I make fewer mistakes in practice.
I realized that the widely circulated adage was not false.
Preparation is the most important thing.”
This fall’s tour will be Diane’s first cap for the national team.
November 14, 2021, Estadio Cidade de Coimbra. He played the 36th minute of the second half against Portugal, and was still standing on the field wearing the cherry blossom emblem at the moment of the 38-25 win.
His mother, Tanya, used to play netball for New Zealand, and ever since he was a child, he dreamed of playing for the All Blacks (New Zealand’s national rugby team).
Under the regulations, once a player has played a test match, it is difficult to represent another country. Wearing the national team jersey would have meant stepping away from a long-held goal.
Now, however, he is “focused on Japan. He has a mission that he can fulfill without becoming an All Black.
I want to be the best lock in the world.
Dianes says he wants to be in the lock position, a position filled by tall players, and stand out in all the jobs that are required of him.
In League One, which will be inaugurated in 2022, he will start 13 regular-season games as a member of the new “Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo. When he has the ball, he uses his footwork to fend off opponents, and when defending, he uses both high and low tackles.
Although he did not qualify for the Rookie of the Year award or the Best Fifteen award due to his suspension, he was pleased with the team’s first top-four finish in Japan since 2015.
The team will advance to the playoffs starting on April 21, with their sights set on the top spot in Japan, and “focus on the game in front of us” before national team activities resume in June. He is committed to the best possible preparation.
Interview and text： Mukafu Miya
Sports writer, born in 1982 in Toyama Prefecture. He graduated from Seijo University, Faculty of Literature and Arts, Department of Fine 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.