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I started playing rugby for the YC&AC in late 1973 and I think Arima-san’s kid’s group played early on Sunday mornings so that if a rugby match was played in the morning we sometimes saw them running about the field before the start of our match. I was never aware of any players being invited to get involved in the training of those youngsters. 

Ross Tattum, the YC&AC section convenor and coach when I first played,  was perhaps the most influencial non-Japanese YC&AC figure in the mid- 20th century rugby history of Japan because he assisted JRFU’s Shiggy Konno in arranging international matches and tours and was on key JRFU committees.

Arima-san always gave me the impression that Ross Tattum started the kids rugby school and that he (Arima-san) took over when Ross returned to Australia in around 1980 when doctors warned him of serious potential health issues.

According the website of Arima-san’s company YCRS, his kids rugby school started in 1979: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnx5Y3JzMTJqcHxneDoxMmVlMjZlY2ExNzc1YmFi

Accordingly, I was surprised but interested to receive the following email out of the blue from Mr. Peter Allan in the UK:

“Mike, finally going through mum and dad’s stuff after their passing and found some rugby stuff from when we lived in Tokyo. Dad coached a junior team at the YCAC must have been around 1968-1970. I wonder if you knew him, his name was George Allan, captain of rugby at George Watsons and also at Selangor Club in KL, Hong Kong Rugby and Singapore Cricket Club. I’ve attached a photo from back then, hopefully it loads up. Regards, Peter”

The information Peter sent includes two photos which show a youthful Arima-san.

During an exchange of emails with Peter I received more information.

“We were in Japan from 1967-1972 so the ‘nippers’ were formed sometime in that period. But the photo I sent you was from 1978 when my dad was back in Japan for a business trip and it coincided with a junior 7’s tournament.”

George passed away a few years ago but it was mum’s recent death that meant I had all their past stuff to go through. “

“My dad was captain of rugby and cricket at George Watsons school in Edinburgh and played for the Selangor Club in Malaysia, in Hong Kong and also for the Singapore Cricket Club. He was a rugby nut. I think he went to school with Gavin Hastings’ father.

After he passed away he left me his Murrayfield debenture which I have used until the virus put paid to that.”

“George worked for Ben Line, an Edinburgh shipping firm and he worked for them his whole life. In Tokyo Ben Line initially worked out of the offices of Cornes before ending that relationship and opening their own offices. Some of his writings of our time in Tokyo is very funny, I’ll scan them soon and send to you.

George was 6’2” and had to have his suits and shoes made in Hong Kong as he could never buy anything off the shelf in Tokyo. “

Below is the interesting account of George’s experiences at the YC&AC and how he started kids rugby there. They are on page 90 of the book he wrote about his life:

Page of George Allan’slife story relating to YC&AC and the start of kids’ rugby there including a photo.

Another social outlet for us was the Yokohama Cricket* and Athletic Club (YCAC), which provided a welcome blowhole from the total Japanese environment which expatriates were exposed to on a daily basis. The YCAC was a misnomer to the extent that cricket, and certainly not athletics, did not figure* in the curriculum – with the main activities basically involving baseball, rugby, hockey, tennis and squash.

For my part, sporting activities at the YCAC were restricted to hockey and rugby on a Sunday, the hockey taking place in the morning, and the rugby in the afternoon – and with the opposition in each case being Japanese. Qn his periodic visits to Japan, Roderick Macleod (a Scottish Hockey international in the fifties who played alongside my brother Jimmy), was invited to join the YCAC team, and seemed to enjoy the physical outlet this provided.

For my part, it had not been intended to further my rugby career after leaving Hong Kong, but the frustrations inherent with my dealings with the Japanese on a daily basis persuaded me to return to the rugby fold – if for no other reason than that it provided me with the opportunity to physically get to grips with the home-grown population under controlled conditions!

The attendance of quite a large number of Japanese youngsters (in the ten/fourteen age bracket) at our weekly rugby matches at the YCAC, prompted me to suggest to a friend of mine involved in the Japanese rugby fraternity to form a team of youngsters (under the mantel of the YCAC) in an effort to further promote rugby within that particular age group. He readily agreed, and (having received the necessary endorsement from the YCAC) we proceeded.

I suggested that the group be named “The Nippers”! Although slightly derogatory in terms (for obvious reasons) it seemed appropriate to me (minding the English definition of a nipper), and was swallowed hook, line and sinker by my Japanese counterpart!

* There are a few mistakes here. When George was a member of the YC&AC the official name was already Yokohama Country and Athletic Club. “Cricket” was changed to “Country” in 1912. Secondly, George was a good cricketer and so it is a little strange that he suggests there was no cricket in his day!

George Allan with the kid’s rugby group including Arima-an – 1975?

It seems very regrettable that he has not been given any recognition for his role in the start of one of the first rugby schools in Japan for kids! I hope this article will help him to get the recognition that he deserves.


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