Words and photos by Maire Benevides
Like team sports? Looking for a sports team to join? Want to make great friends and get fit? Like drinking? Have some hand-eye coordination?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions then the Kure Shipheads may be for you!
The Kure Shipheads are a co-ed touch rugby team made up of people from all walks of life – foreigners, Japanese people, students, teachers, kids, business men and women – all with varying skill levels and experience.
“The Kure Shipheads Touch Rugby Team is a dedicated mix of people in and around the prefecture of Hiroshima. The goal of the team is to promote internationalisation in its truest form – through sports…We take all levels of players and work together to build a team every year that concentrates on not only touch rugby but building lasting bonds and friendships”.
– Kure Shipheads Touch Rugby Facebook Page
Formed in October of 2007, the Kure Shipheads have been a force to be reckoned with on the touch rugby circuit. So far this year the team has competed in three tournaments – Japan Touch Association Tournament in Fukuoka, Annual AJET Tokushima Tournament in Tokushima and the Annual KRAK Tournament in Kobe, with another tournament in Tokushima coming up in September, as well as biannual scrimmages with local rugby clubs and the occasional practice match against the Hiroshima Hammers.
Every year the Kure Shipheads compete in the AJET Tokushima Touch Tournament. This is by far the biggest tournament of the year for most teams attending. The tournament itself is held over a weekend in May in Tokushima-ken. The venue is a campsite in the inaka, with playing fields just across the road (however this year they were already booked & we played at a rugby ground about a 10 minute drive away).
Every year the number of teams that attend varies but usually there are around 15 – 20 teams from all over Japan, all with varying skill levels. Teams are put into pools and on the first day – Saturday, each team plays about five games in their pool. On Saturday night there is an all you can eat BBQ for all teams, and it’s a great way to relax after a hard day playing, to make new friends and get to know your opponents off the field. Many lasting friendships have been made from these BBQs! Sunday is finals day with the winners of each pool playing for an overall prize. This year the Shipheads played amazingly and made it to the final 3 teams. Unfortunately they lost out in the semi-finals to the reigning champs Nga Hau e Wha and took 3rd place. Although the general consensus was the Shipheads should have been in the final. This year the Shipheads had 10 members play on Saturday with an additional 5 members traveling up to compete on Sunday, kids included.
The atmosphere at the tournament is always great. It’s all positive and everyone is there to have fun and encourage each other. Even though the Shipheads were a little disappointed with the result, we were really proud of everyone that played – especially of those whom it was their first tournament.
So now are you interested in joining?
The team usually practices on Monday nights at Niko Stadium in Kure from 7pm – 9pm.
Anyone and everyone is welcome to join the team, no previous experience is necessary. The team will teach you everything you need to know – rules, skills etc. The only thing we ask you to bring is a good attitude and some running shoes (or rugby/soccer boots – no metal sprigs)! Team fees are 1000yen per month, per person – this covers the rental of the ground and light fees, as well as team equipment (balls, cones, first aid kit etc.) and when possible subsidises travel to tournaments.
For those who are new to the sport, don’t be alarmed; instead of tackling there is only a little bit of touching – hence the name “touch” rugby! It’s a fast, action packed game with an emphasis on speed, agility and ball-handling. For rules and the basic aim of the game check out the links below;
http://www.japantouch.jp/ (in Japanese)
If any of this sounds like you – or sounds like it could be you – please come along to a practice and give it a try. It’s a fun sport, a great way to keep in shape and above all you get to meet some awesome people.
For information about practice grounds, times or any general inquiry please email firstname.lastname@example.org, like us on Facebook (Kure Ship-heads Touch Rugby Team) and follow us on Twitter @kureshipheads.