The dominant position occupied for so long by Australian and New Zealand ruggers recently encountered a new threat to go along with those presented by squads from Europe and the upstart United States.
True, those countries include some players from Australia and New Zealand, but it is Japan that now seems to be making itself heard on world rugby fields. Japan’s Brave Blossoms supplied three upset wins in this year’s World Cup in England, the most unexpected being the 34 – 32 victory against South Africa’s Springboks.
The poster boy for the Japanese rugby ascendancy, 29-year-old Ayumu Goromaru, recently named a certified “Master of Ninjas,” due to his kicking pose that resembles the honorable stealth warriors of Japanese culture, helped the squad beat Samoa and the United States. Japan only narrowly missed a spot in the quarterfinals.
When the 2016 Super Rugby season begins in January, Goromaru will play for the Queensland Reds. He is quite large by Japanese standards at 185cm and 98kg, so his potential at fullback seems positive. He was responsible for 24 of the Japanese team’s points in the match against South Africa, so his ability against top-level competition is unquestionable. His debut will be against the Waratahs on Saturday 27 February at Allianz Stadium, Sydney.