At the all-Japan rugby club championship final held Jan. 29, one team wore black armbands to show their respect for a fallen member.
The Kanagawa Tamariva Club, which placed second in the competition, lost its founding member, Yoshihisa Nomura, last October in a car accident in Libya while covering a news story. He was 37.
After graduating from Waseda University, Nomura joined TV Asahi. While working long hours, he also somehow found time to launch the Tamariva Club in 2000.
The next year, he served as captain of the team and contributed to its first national-level title. In fiscal 2008, the team achieved its sixth consecutive victory of the national tournament. In addition to contributing on the field, Nomura also actively helped run the club, such as coordinating overseas matches.
Two years ago, he moved to Egypt to serve as the head of TV Asahi’s Cairo branch. On Oct. 21, he was in a car accident while covering a story on the changing political situation in Libya following the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Nomura, his driver and his assistant were killed in the crash.
Ryuji Nakatake, who now serves as head coach of Japan’s under-20 national rugby team, remembers Nomura, who had lost his starting position as flanker to him while they were on the Wasada University rugby team.
“Nomura never gave up. At the finals of the All-Japan University Championships, Nomura was warming up until the very last minute in case someone got injured and he had to fill in,” says Nakatake.
Nomura was apparently able to continue playing rugby because he was frustrated at not being able to contribute more to his team while in college.
“He got better once he graduated from college. Until then, he couldn’t even pass the ball,” says one teammate.
After graduating from college, he often had to leave a rugby match to go straight to the site of a news report because of his job.
Despite his unpredictable work hours, he went running and did weight training during the little time he had off from work.
“Nomura never used work as an excuse. I was able to learn from his dedication,” says current team captain Satoru Hino.
The team does not have its own dedicated training ground or corporate backing. But Nomura founded the club hoping to create an opportunity for true rugby lovers to get together. What he also created was the mentality that if one is truly dedicated to a sport, the physical environment does not make a difference. The team’s goal now is the win a match at the All-Japan Championships.
During the final match of the all-Japan rugby club championships, which was a qualifier for the All-Japan Championships, which will be held between Feb. 25 and March 18, Tamariva came in second to Hyogo-based Rokko.
This ended the team’s season, but Tamariva vows to continue on, playing with the dedication and inspiration provided by its founding member.
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