Japan’s Promising Talent Overcomes Heart Disease and Thoughts for His Mother
Japan National Team Candidates to be Announced Soon
Koga Nezuka won the Rookie of the Year award in the first year of Rugby’s League One. The smiling runner, highly regarded by the longtime mainstay of the national team, who also made his debut for Japan this year, suffered from an irregular heartbeat as a boy. We take a closer look at the “starting point” that helped him overcome the pain.
Impact” seared into Leach’s eyes even if he did not play in the games
On July 9, after the second straight match against France, Lanner was standing at the entrance of the National Stadium in Tokyo. At the entrance of the National Stadium in Tokyo, Leech Michael touched a young man who did not take part in the matches that day.
Kouga. Yes, Nezuka had made a huge impact in practice.
Surrounded by reporters, he was asked about the players who impressed him during this summer’s tour. First, he talked about the players who participated in the games, such as Atsushi Sakate and Yuyasu Tsuji, and from the group of spectators in the stands, Nezuka was the only one he mentioned. Nezuka was the only player from the stand who made an impression on the spectators.
Nezuka won the rookie of the year award as a winger for Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay, which finished in the top four in the domestic league one until May of this year. He was selected for the National Development Squad (NDS), the national team’s reserve squad, on the strength of his momentum.
As a member of that group, Nezuka made his debut in a test match (national team match) on June 18. He scored a try against Uruguay and won the match.
He joined the main group with Leach on July 1. The reason was that a number of existing players were infected with a new type of coronavirus in the midst of activities for the match against France. At that time, additional players from the NDS, which had already been disbanded, were called up one after another.
He is 173 cm tall and weighs 82 kg. Although he is small for a top-level player, Nezuka has the skill and acceleration to get out of tackles and move forward, and even if he falls down, he can get up quickly and get back into the game. He was able to show off these qualities at the camp in Miyazaki.
I am well aware that the national team requires a lot of physicality. However, I don’t compete on that level. It is not a head-on collision, but how fast you can beat them…. I was fascinated there, and it gave me confidence. It is big for me from now on. I can do it with all my heart.”
Nezuka’s agility and mobility have been his strong points. As a boy, however, he suffered from a heart condition that supported his vigor.
I was in the fourth or fifth grade of elementary school,” he says.
It must have been when he was in the fourth or fifth grade of elementary school. He was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat at the hospital. The rhythm of his pulse was not constant.
For a time, he wore a pacemaker to school and was forbidden from engaging in strenuous physical activities that would cause his pulse rate to rise to an extreme level. He was unable to participate in physical education classes, not to mention the activities of the Amagasaki Rugby School, which he joined as a kindergartener.
It was a difficult situation for the boys, who used to climb walls and jump up stairs at home with their older brother, Seisae, now a member of the Mie Honda Heat.
He took out his pent-up frustration on his mother, Tomomi. She had been ordered not to move because of the unrealistic nature of her heart trouble, so she was very harsh with him.
＜Why can’t you move! ＞Why can’t you move?
＜Why can’t I move? ＞I was so hard on him.
Now I feel a sense of atonement for having said such terrible things to my parents. The reason I feel more sorry is because my mother was really cheerful at that time.
＜Let’s do our best in treatment.
I was a pretty mischievous person, so it was too hard for me not to exercise. So I said a lot of things to him, but now I think those words were hard for my parents. My parents were cheerful about it, but…”
I wish I could repay my parents. ……
Before entering junior high school, his cure was confirmed, and he went on to enjoy a life of rugby. However, as he became more famous in this world, he began to chew more deeply on the memories of his boyhood. As a young player who had made his breakthrough, he was interviewed more and more often.
As he exchanged opinions with the media and fans, he said, “That period of my life is the reason why I have been able to play rugby so much. I don’t see it as a painful past. On the other hand, he also reaffirms that the days when he suffered from an irregular heartbeat were the starting point of his life as an athlete.
This year, more and more people are asking me about the old days, and I remember them more and more,” he said. Looking back at the photos from those days, I thought again about my thoughts at that time. I thought, “I mustn’t forget that time, and I must do my best because of it…. I hope to repay my parents by playing an active role in the national team now, and I would like to return the favor. It would be best if I could go to the place where I can shine the brightest and have them see that.”
The national team resumed its activities on August 26 in stages. Members narrowed down through competition will be able to compete against New Zealand, England, and France this fall.
Nezuka, who hopes to invite his family to the 2023 World Cup in France, will first take on the intense survival race at hand. He will use his experience of not being able to run even if he wanted to as the basis for a series of energetic runs.
◆Profile of Koga Nezuka
Born in Hyogo Prefecture on September 15, 1998. He started playing rugby at Amagasaki Rugby School and won the national championship in his second year at Tokai University Sosei. He joined Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay in 2021 and won the rookie of the year award at League One. He made his debut for the national team on June 18 against Uruguay, scoring one try in the match. 173 cm, 82 kg.
Interview and text by： Kazuya Mukai
Sports writer born in 1982 in Toyama Prefecture. Graduated from Seijo University, Faculty of Arts and Letters, 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.