Sport September 2011

“Cradle of Rugby” in First Japan Tour

The high school rugby team of the UK’s famous Rugby School toured Japan in August in the establishment’s first visit to the country. Rugby School—where the sport was invented in 1823—played three high schools in Yokohama, Tokyo and Nagoya.

“We feel highly honoured to be bringing Rugby School’s rugby team to play rugby in Japan for the first time in the 188 years since William Webb Ellis invented the game at Rugby”, said tour organiser Dr Sohei Takatsuki, whose International Education Center & Co., Ltd. sends students to Eton College, Harrow School and Rugby School and brings pupils from the same establishments to Japan on language and culture gap year trips.

Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) President Yoshiro Mori (a former prime minister), Lee Melotti (player), JRFU Chairman Tatsuzo Yabe, Sam Pointon (player) and Simon Brown, director of Boys’ Games at Rugby School.

The Rugby School group consisted of 25 players and six staff, along with Director of Boys’ Games Simon Brown.

“I really hope that some of the players meeting on the rugby pitch in these games will play against each other again in the Rugby World Cup in the UK in 2015, or in the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019”, enthused Takatsuki.

The game of rugby traces its origin to 1823 when, in the central England town of Rugby, William Webb Ellis caught the ball but, instead of moving backwards, he ran forwards with it in “fine disregard of the rules” of football, as it was played at Rugby then.

In the second half of the 19th century, Rugby School also played a key role in introducing and popularising the sport in many countries, including Japan.

People all over the world began sending their children to Rugby School and, on their return home, some of those “Old Rugbeians” played critical roles in the development of rugby and other sports in their respective home countries.

At least one unnamed Rugbeian was in Yokohama when Asia’s first rugby club was established in January 1866. And George Hamilton, captain of football from around 1870 until some time in the 1880s, was a Rugbeian who is also known as the “father of rowing in Yokohama”. James Evan Fraser, who lived and played sport in Yokohama in the early 1870s, was said to be outstanding at rugby, cricket and rowing.


Rugby School 109
Toho Senior High School 0

24 August, Yokohama

Rugby School 53
Waseda University High School 0

27 August, Tokyo

Rugby School 39
Nagoya High School 7

30 August, Nagoya

(Source: Mike Galbraith)