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Sakura Newspaper Article and English Translation

By Masanori Katsuno and Patrick Friend, 11/10/17, 12:00PM CST

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Houston’s fastest growing Rugby club attracts players from Houston’s large Japanese community

With Japan due to host the Rugby World cup for the first time ever in 2019, there is an ever-increasing amount of interest in the game, not only within Japan but also among the many thousands of Japanese that live outside Japan.

Japan’s spectacular victory over South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup has already increased awareness in Japan, and interest in Rugby is expected to increase further as the build up to the 2019 World Cup begins. Already a popular sport in Japan, the number of registered players in Japan (125,000)1 matches that of some of the top Rugby nations in the world.

Rugby is a popular sport among the 35002-strong Japanese community in Houston, and you may be surprised to learn that Houston has its own Japanese Mens Rugby team, the Lone Stars, founded in 2012.

The expat Japanese community is largely comprised of highly skilled employees who spend between five and seven years living in the Houston area before returning to Japan. During this time many of them look for clubs where their children can enjoy the sport of Rugby, learning the skills that will turn them into great Rugby players, perhaps even going on to join Japan’s national team, The Cherry Blossoms.

While it has been possible to play Rugby at senior level in the Houston area for a number of years, the opportunity to play junior level rugby has been limited to a number of small clubs. With the arrival on the scene of the West Houston Rugby Club, Japanese kids can now learn Rugby from as young as 4 years old.

Masanori Katsuno has been playing rugby since he was 13. When he came to Houston, he decided to join the Houston Lone Star Mens team. Finding a place for his child to play was difficult as the only clubs in Masanori’s area practiced at times that were difficult for Masanori to fit into his busy schedule.

The West Houston Rugby Club offers Masanori’s son, Taiga, the ability to train on Sundays – ideal for Masanori as Saturdays are spent at the Japanese Language School.

Masanori said, “The training schedules offered by The West Houston Rugby Club are ideal for us and many other Japanese families in the West Houston area. Rugby is the best sport for kids to learn a spirit of respect and discipline while they are young. I would like as many kids as possible to learn the great sport of rugby through our club”.

Masanori has now started coaching one of the West Houston Rugby Club’s youth teams and is an accredited USA Rugby coach. Masanori hopes that other kids from the Japanese community in Houston will join him and his son.

About the West Houston Rugby Club

The West Houston Rugby Club, playing as the West Houston Lions, was founded in 2006, and caters for players from all age groups, both boys and girls, from Pre-K to G12 through to an adult Men’s team. The club has a strong safety focus, and all its coaches are accredited by USA Rugby.

For more information about how to join Houston’s fastest growing Rugby club, please contact info@westhoustonrugby.com

About the Author

Masanori Katsuno is from Fukuoka prefecture in Japan and has been in Houston with his family for 2 years. Masanori has been playing rugby from the age of 13. He played all through Junior High School, High School and during his 4 years at Seikei University.

Masanori played for the LION FANGS, Japan's Top East League, from 2005 to 2011. Masanori then moved to Malaysia and continued his rugby career, commuting to Singapore across the bridge every weekend to play for the Singapore Japanese rugby football club from 2011 to 2014. Since arriving in Houston in 2015 Masanori has been playing with the Houston Lone Stars. Masanori has previously coached teams at Seinan Gakuin High School and the Singapore Japanese rugby football club.

1 Wikipedia

2 2010 Census Harris County

Article in Japanese in the Sakura newspaper

You can find the article on page 6-7.

http://www.iii-media.net/SAKURA/issue/vol286/index.html