Isaac Ross gives back to the youth of Japan

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Isaac Ross gives back to the youth of Japan

Former All Black Isaac Ross recently paid a visit to Saitama based Shohei High School, current work place of LRB Sports founder Luke Bradley. Ross ran a session with the 1st 15 boys squad. We sat down for a chat with Isaac afterwards to hear what he had to say about the youth rugby system in Japan.


Name: Isaac Ross

Height: 2.00cm

Weight: 113kg

Current team: NTT Shining Arcs

All Black Caps: 8

Favourite Japanese food? Yakiniku

Favourite Japanese word? ありがとう (Arigatou) you can get a long way with this word, a bow and a smile.

Favourite rugby player? Makoto Mayahara – my sempai (senior) at NTT communications who retired last year at 40years old! legend on and off the field!

Favourite quote?  Don’t leave something for tomorrow, that you can do today.

Thoughts on Schoolboy rugby in Japan

What gave you the urge to volunteer your time to coach at Shohei High School?

I’ve been involved with Japan rugby as a player for the past 5 years and have seen the growth and development as a nation towards the sport. Since the success of the RWC last year I feel the time to build on that popularity is now. I’ve always had interest in coaching and it may be an avenue I wish to pursue after playing. But I had an opportunity given to me by a friend to come and share some of my experience and teach some things i’ve found useful over my career. I feel the ongoing growth of rugby in japan lies within our youth. I had no hesitation to come along and help out…

What were some of the main differences you noticed about Japanese high school rugby players and our high school players back home (NZ)?

The biggest difference between NZ and Japanese high school students would have to, and obviously be the size of the player. New Zealanders, in particularly our polynesian players have very dominating figures. however I find the japanese as perfectionists. So their attention to detail and willingness to learn to increase their level of skill etc is a fantastic asset to have when you are trying to coach.

What are some of the strong points of Japanese high school players?

As I mentioned above, they are very attentive and very receptive. So when somethings are explained, they take and follow instructions extremely well.

What are areas they can improve on?

As individuals, alot of these kids would not have played rugby as early as NZ kids. So it does not come as natural to them. They need to increase their general knowledge and basic skills of the game. Build the foundation, catch/pass, tackle, then build on the finer points.

How do you think Shohei high school would do against a top 16 NZ first fifteen?

The 1st xv rugby system in NZ is very strong and has traditions that are as proud as the Japanese University rugby system. But again, the japanese highschool will have a very strong heart and play with alot of passion. But the size and skill level of a New Zealand high school 1st xv would be too much.

How was your first experience coaching rugby at high school level in japan? Is it what you expected?

It was great. They were very attentive and receptive, which made my coaching session run smoothly. They’re a very respective people and very keen to learn.

Advice to coaches looking to coach in Japan?

When coaching, try not to just teach. Ask questions to your players so they can figure out and solve the solution by their own thoughts. Therefore creating players who can problem solve and react instinctively in the moment vs a player being needed to be told what to do in every situation.



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