This article was written by Mr Ken
Onishi, the coach for Kyoto Sangyo University Rugby Team, for a
university magazine. Much necessary information about universities,
people, places,and history was added in order to give readers some
idea about the university, Kyoto, and Japan. For more information,
please contact the e-mail address in this homepage.
In 1973 April, I became destined to
hold a position as teacher at Kyoto Sangyo University(1).
The year before this job came up, I was receiving training to be
a rugby coach from Mr. Shukei Fujii, who was a lecturer of the Physical
Education Faculty in Tenri University(2). As I recall,
around September of 1972 when the summer training was ended, I was
recommended to take the teaching position at Kyoto Sangyo University.
At that time, the Kansai universities rugby league was going through
a period when Doshisha University(3) and Tenri University
were the two leading teams in the Kansai area(4). Being
deeply impressed by the enthusiastic rugby of Mr. Fujii, a man who
had stopped Doshisha University's walkover, there was no reason
for me to refuse Mr. Fujii's recommendation. Mr.Fujii was a keen
scholar as well as theorist. He had been to New Zealand alone, in
order to study rugby coaching. This was not at all a common thing
at that time. His rugby was strongly praised as open rugby, with
Mr.Fujii in the centre, and as a running rugby with the fifteen
players working in a body. His rugby theory unexpectedly coincides
with the goal which Japanese rugby, with the Kobe Seikou Rugby Club(5)
at its core, is currently aiming at. Thus I greatly appreciate my
good fortune at being able to learn rugby from Mr. Fujii.
- (1) Kyoto Sangyo University is
located in Kyoto, Japan.
- (2) Tenri University is located
in Nara, Japan.
- (3) Doshisha University is located
in Kyoto, Japan.
- (4) The Kansai area includes Kyoto,
Osaka, Hyogo, and Nara.
- (5) Kobe Seikou is a company. Its
English name is Kobe Steel.
The challenge for Kyoto Sangyo University
Rugby Club began. This was also the beginning of the struggle between
the players and me. My first captain of the team was Masato Hayashi,
a graduate of Kyoto Higashiyama High School. I discussed rugby with
him many times, and we often talked about our dreams for the future
of the team. These dreams were to build a rugby team such that its
players could be proud of being a graduate of the Kyoto Sangyo University
Rugby Club, as well as of Kyoto Sangyo University. Its details were
as follows: 1.to build a team which could one day be well-matched
in games with Doshisha University 2.to play one day on a ground
in England, the motherland of rugby 3.to play on the National Ground
in Tokyo at the Japanese Universities Rugby Championship Tournament
on January fifteenth.
In 1975, we were promoted to the first
league. However, we did not have good results. We somehow or other
managed to avoid relegation back to the second league, but we were
just hanging on at the bottom of the first league. Days on which
we were inclined to lose our aims came and went. And then an incident
occurred. In 1981 we were playing one of our league games, and lost
it. Two of the fourth-year players of our team caused some trouble
with some players in the other team, partly because of an insult
and slander aimed at the Kyoto Sangyo University Rugby Club, and
partly because of the irritation in the players themselves. They
were fighting in their blazers with the team emblem on them. When
I found out about the incident, I scolded and beat them till my
hand felt numb. I appealed to them, in tears. "Although our
history of rugby is only at its beginning, we should be stepping
forward with a sense of pride that helps build a university with
a tradition. We should have pride of our emblem in our hearts. Let's
make a team like that. Let's make a team in that way."
Both the players were also crying.
In later years, I acted as the best man at each player's wedding.
After this kind of incident, I visited Mr. Shunshou
Utsumi, who is known as Great Ajyari, at Myouou-dou, Mount Hiei(6).
He is a high monk of the Tendai Sect of Buddhism, who accomplished
a thousand days of rough and superhuman austerities, called Sennichikai
Hougyou. I visited him as often as possible. And I asked for his
teaching with all my heart. I received a word, 'Rakushi'(7),
- (6) Mount Hiei is in Kyoto, Japan.
- (7) 'raku' means ease, comfort, relief, enjoyment,
etc. 'shi' means will, intention, ambition, etc.
Every day at the university we had
early morning training and evening training which lasted till very
late. The players were unhappy at such a hard schedule. Even I began
to feel a sense of limitation and pain for myself. But when I received
this word, Rakushi, I felt I was saved. I was told that this word
was given to Great Ajyari by Mr. Etai Yamada, a master of the Tendai
Sect of Buddhism, as an encouragement, when Great Ajyari was in
the middle of his thousand-day Sennichikai Houyou. I was more than
grateful to receive such a word. An exchange between Great Ajyari
and the players began. The captain of our team in 1982 was Mr. Masaya
Mihara, a graduate of Maizuru High School in Oita. He took his team
to Mount Hiei and they attempted one day of a thousand-day Sennichikai
Houyou, by undertaking a mountain trek of 30 kilometres. The captain
also used to visit Great Ajyari at Akayama Zen temple on every 15th
of the month, when Great Ajyari makes a trip there. This mountain
trek and the monthly visits have been carried out by all teams up
until now. In the year 1982, although we were only the third ranked
representative of the Kansai, we could enter the Japanese Universities
Rugby Championship Tournament for the first time. It had been ten
years since I began coaching at Kyoto Sangyo University.
In 1987, we grasped our chance. The
previous year, 1986, there had been many incidents, including a
boycott of training by the 4th grade players. It was one of the
hardest times I had in my life. But I was obstinate. Whatever it
took, we had to win our games against Doshisha University. The truth
was that we had better players in the previous year's team. However,
in that year, 1987, we were very fortunate to have Mr. Tatsuya Maeda,
Mr. Yasushi Miki, Mr. Nobuyuki Izuno and Mr. Koji Igawa as freshmen,
and Mr. Masanobu Morisako, a graduate of Maizuru High School in
Oita, as the captain. At a meeting with the players on the night
before the game with Doshisha University, I made an appeal to them
from the bottom of my heart, as if I was assuring their victory.
"Believe me. Believe in what you have been achieving. Believe
in the power of our team. Listen to me, the only thing waiting for
you now is the glory of victory. "How much you are going to
be moved by that! I cannot guess what kind of impression you will
receive. But it will be the greatest feeling you will ever experience
in your whole life. If this is truly so, I want to experience that
feeling with these team members, in this team!" Everyone
swore victory with tears in their eyes.
It was a heroic game. The Fifteen
dashed onward from the beginning, with tackles and hard work from
the forwards. The score was 3 to 3 at the end of the first half.
At twelve minutes into the second half, our team won a scrum-try,
and took the lead by 7 to 3. However, at eighteen minutes into the
second half, the Doshisha University team struck back furiously
and won a try. The lead was reversed at 7 to 9. Intense offensive
and defensive plays were repeatedly tried. One step ahead, one step
back. But the audience was beginning to feel that the result would
be as they expected. It was thirty-nine minutes after the second
half of the game had begun. The remaining time was only about a
minute or two. From a scrum our team attacked the opposing try-line.
Mr. Tatsuya Maeda, fullback, joined the backs' passing
line, and then when Mr. Koichi Aisu, left-wing, reached the 10 meter-line,
Mr. Katsufumi Miyamoto, the Doshisha University number 8, made a
high tackle round the neck of Mr. Aisu, and was penalized. Mr. Soujiro
Oki aimed a penalty goal from forty meters out. The audience was
fascinated. The eyes and concentration of all were collected on
the movements of Mr. Oki and on the goal posts. It was an indescribable
atmosphere. I could not look. I closed my eyes. Before long, I knew
the success of the goal kick from the shout of joy from the audience.
Soon, a whistle marked the end of the game. The score was 10 to
9. We had won. We won the game. Mr. Morisako jumped into my arms.
Tears were coming from his eyes. I also cried. I was not ashamed
to cry. The next thing I knew, I was dancing in the air in the middle
of a circle made by the players. I could see the hands of all of
the members of the Kyoto Sangyo University Rugby Team lifting me
up. In fact, Mr. Morisako was not wearing his uniform on that day.
He was not selected as a team member after losing out to the freshmen.
He drowned his pain and suffering in drinking. He was so troubled
by this that he visited Great Ajyari occasionally. He was making
an effort two or three times greater than that of the other players.
I had known all of this. At an interview for broadcast, one of the
reporters put this kind of question to him. "Congratulations,
Mr. Morisako. I'm sure that it was a hard job to be in charge of
the team without being a part of the game. You wanted to be playing
in that game, of course? How do you feel now?" "I
have never been so happy, even if our team wins the game without
me playing in it. Is it tough? Nothing tough about it."
He answered clearly, with a smile on
his face. It was bracing stuff. I was very proud of him. I was even
more pleased with the fact that such a wonderful captain had developed
in our team than that we had won the game. It was my fifteenth season
at Kyoto Sangyo University, and a season I would never be able to
I had always been thinking that I
wanted to take the players on a tour abroad, and I had decided that
the first tour was to be to England. It was my dream to have a game
against Cambridge University, which has such a long tradition. This
was because England is the original home of rugby, and is the spiritual
home for those people who love rugby. Furthermore, I believed that
challenging that tradition would go a long way toward creating a
new tradition. I believed that facing up directly to the traditions
of Cambridge or Oxford Universities would be a part of creating
a tradition of Kyoto Sangyo University. This idea also originated
in my belief that, even if a school has only a short history, it
is still possible to have some tradition. In 1989, when Mr. Koji
Sugimoto was the team captain, I decided that the time was ripe.
I believed that the sense of playing earnest rugby had permeated
the Kyoto Sangyo University team. The preparation for the tour had
begun long before. But it was not easy once the actual setting up
was to proceed. A 'hand-made tour' was
our motto, so that the funds for the tour were generated by selling
university t-shirts and neckties. The players tried hard to make
the tour happen. Fortunately, the Old Boys' Association
of Kyoto Sangyo University supported us as an event to mark their
twentieth anniversary, and this was a great help for us. Since we
were hoping for a game with either Cambridge or Oxford University,
we faced great difficulties. We approached them from various angles,
and Mr. Marve, who was working at Nikoniko-do in Kumamoto prefecture
in Japan, made great efforts on our behalf. In March, we received
a message that a game had been consented to by Mr. Rogers, the head-coach
of the Cambridge University Rugby Team. A year was to pass before
the game. Our contact was only by telephone, which was not reassuring
enough for me. I asked Mr. Marve to visit Mr. Rogers in July, and
he came back with a formal schedule for us. The game was to be held
on March 10th, 1990. At last, I began to feel it would be a reality.
On February 28th, 1990, we left for London from Tokyo's Narita International
Airport. The touring party consisted of 35 players. On March 9th,
we were invited for a pre-game evening party at the Cambridge clubhouse.
The Chancellor of the University appeared in a gown, the formal
costume. He made a speech, and said that he was looking forward
to the next day's game. On the day of the game many people, including
some Japanese, came to see the match. Mr. Toshiyuki Hayashi from
Kobe Steel Industry also came to see us. I asked Mr. Hayashi, who
had a lot of experience of international games, for a comment before
the game. "You will be the first team to play with Cambridge
University as a private team. It is an honour. O.K., in rugby there
is only the ball. Try hard to get the ball, and win the game!"
The players went out onto the ground
looking vigorous. They played the game without flinching. The final
whistle blew. The final score was 24 to 25. We couldn't win the
match, but it was a wonderful game. At its finish all of the audience
stood up, and congratulated us with applause. The players, who just
finished the game, praised each other happily. I also said "congratulations"
to the players for the first time,
and shook hands with them. I was glad that we had come to England.
It was wonderful to be able to bring the team to England. I felt
this from the bottom of my heart. Each of these steps helped us
to win the championship in the Kansai Tournament League, with a
no-loss record, for the first time in 1990.
What I discussed and imagined as dreams
with Mr. Masato Hayashi nineteen years ago became the aim of our
team, and then became reality. I believe that those who were involved
will find encouragement from this for the rest of their lives.
This article was translated
by Kako Richards.