The E’stel Tasman Trophy has an international feel in 2019. The Tasman Rugby Union entered in a commercial relationship with Kintetsu Liners who are a Japanese rugby club currently competing in the Top Challenge League. Hanaozono Rugby Stadium, Kintetsu’s home ground, is set to host four Rugby World Cup games in 2019.
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The Kintetsu Corporation is a Japanese railway company with primarily owns the Kintetsu Railway as well as 143 other corporations and employs just over 29,000 people.
Currently, we have two players from the Kintetsu Liners who have joined our High Performance programme under the guidance of the Mako staff. Naoki Morita, who is a Centre and Shohei Nonaki, who is a loose forward both play for East Coast in the E’stel Tasman Trophy. They are enjoying their time both on and off the field with East Coast who are providing them a real Kiwi experience outside of rugby (pig hunting has been mentioned!). On the field, both players have been putting on solid performances and they are held in high regard at the club.
This is the first year that we have operated an international program and already we have seen the benefits for the staff, development players and contracted players. Everyone has become more inclusive, listening and speaking with better clarity.
This week we had Kazuma Kitamura from Kintetsu visit us. He is one of the coaches/recruitment staff for the Liners. Kazuma was here to check on the progress of both Naoki and Shohei, as well as discuss future opportunities to further develop the relationship between Kintetsu and the TRU.