Michael Galbraith

CRITIQUE OF TWO ENGLISH LANGUAGE EXHIBITS EXPLAINING JAPAN’S RUGBY HISTORY IN JAPAN PAVILION IN LONDON DURING RWC2015: PART 1

I wrote and circulated the information below with Japanese translations to a number of people involved in the rugby world in Japan including at least one director after initially making a complaint to the two Japanese officials on the spot at the Japan Pavilion in London during the RWC 2015 in the UK immediately after reading the information about the history of rugby in Japan that was offered in the display. I didn’t expect to get any response and I didn’t get any.

SPOTLIGHT ON E. B. CLARKE – ONE FATHER OF RUGBY IN JAPAN

E. B. studied at the Victoria Public School alongside TANAKA Ginnosuke who helped him to introduce rugby in 1899 to the students of Keio University. At the age of 15 he won nearly all the academic and sporting prizes in the school, except that for mathematics which was awarded to Tanaka, and had several inspirational meetings with the famous writer Lafcadio Hearn while Hearn was a guest in the headmaster’s house.

EARLIEST AMERICAN FOOTBALL IN JAPAN

Unlike with the first official games of soccer, rugby, hockey, etc. in Japan., American football started with a big BANG and a big exhibition at the Meiji Shrine grounds on Thanksgiving Day (November 29) in 1934 watched by 15,000 (according to the JAFA* today – the Japan Times at the time said 10,000) people including Prince Chichibu and the American ambassador Joseph Grew who gave a speech as part of the ‘colorful’ opening ceremonies. These included the Florida Dance Hall orchestra playing the football songs of leading US colleges.

BEST 1930’S YC&AC RUGBY PLAYER

When I asked Bill the name of the best player in that period up to world war two, he seemed to hesitate before mentioning several names – Fleming, Archie Scherrer, Devison and Edwards – but when I asked Cecil Arab he quickly said, without any hesitation, ‘Lampy Lamport – the Oxford Blue!’ Years later I decided I should try to find out something about the legendary Lampy Lamport!

THE 1874 “FOOTBALL IN YOKOHAMA” ILLUSTRATION AND THE ARTIST WHO CREATED IT

The image is most likely the oldest image of rugby in Asia and one of the very oldest in the world relating to ‘club’ football – at glance at the picture will tell you that the players were certainly not playing a game of soccer –  actually being played as opposed to football/rugby played in schools and universities.

VIDEO OF FCCJ PRESENTATION ON HISTORY OF RUGBY IN JAPAN & RECENT PODCAST

  1. Slide presentation on 150 years of rugby in Japan at FCCJ in Tokyo  on March 31st 2016                                                                                                       The video on the FCCJ website is nearly one and half hours long including almost five minutes of filming before the press conference actually starts so here is quick guide to the starting point of the key parts: a. Official start of the press conference – 4 mins 27 secs; b. Kazumi Ohigashi speech – 7 mins 3  secs; Nobuyuki Ueyama speech – 15 mins 58  secs; Mike Galbraith speech – 20  mins 48  secs; Questions – 57 mins 45 sec.
  2. Interview about rugby history in Japan in audio podcast called JRugby Podcast (Lee Watkins & Taito Sakurai) in early September 2016                 The interview starts at the 16 mins 32 secs mark

A version of the publicity prepared by the FCCJ for the press conference  and slightly modified by me before the event and again after the event 

Japan’s 2015 World Cup shock 34-32 victory over mighty South Africa catapulted the national team into the limelight, giving the 2019 Rugby World Cup host badly needed momentum to pull their sport out of near obscurity on their own home ground. Heralded around the world as the biggest upset in World Cup history, television ratings in Japan soared overnight from single digit to record breaking heights unimaginable in recent years, while the world clamours to learn about the nation’s rugby and rugby team which had previously only ever won one World Cup match.

Unbeknownst to the world of rugby in general, rugby in Japan has a long and rich history dating back to the age of Shoguns and samurai, The country is, for example, home to the oldest rugby club in Asia – the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club (YC&AC), which held a special 150th commemorative rugby festival and dinner on April 2 2016. No club in either New Zealand, home of the legendary All Blacks, or Wales, another home of rugby, has reached the 150 mark yet.

This history is known and recognised by, for example, the World Rugby Museum in London, but Japan is only just starting to change its view that rugby started in Japan in 1899.

fccjpron150yearsofrugbypressie

 

 

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