BOP Rugby makes headlines in Japan

(Photo: Japanese school girl players pictured with BOPRU strength and conditioning coach Keith Roberts and Women’s Interim Development Officer Kendra Reynolds)

More than 7 million Japanese people have been exposed to the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union and its “Game on English” programme following a feature in one of Japan’s largest newspapers.


The Asahi Shinbun, which has a circulation of 7.96 million for its morning edition and 3.1 million for its evening edition, interviewed CEO Mike Rogers for an article on the programme, which matches English language providers with sports academies to deliver centrally-organised, bespoke courses for young athletes


Last August BOPRU hosted 11 Japanese high school students and a coach, who had been selected from across Japan by the Japanese Rugby Union.


Mr Rogers is thrilled with the exposure the article has brought for the BOPRU as they continue to foster ties with Japan.


“We are now in our second year of partnership with the Japanese Sports Agency and the Japan Rugby Football Union, and will host female high school players for three weeks in August,” Mr Rogers says.


In partnership with Education NZ, BOPRU have current relationships with Sport Nippon University and RKU University and last week hosted a delegation of school principals from Japan.


“We are also looking at opportunities around the Rugby World Cup, which is being held in Japan next year.”


The Game on English programme was set up by the New Zealand Government in 2014.


Bay of Connections is the regional growth strategy for the wider Bay of Plenty. One of the focus areas is to grow, support and promote rugby, with a view to driving economic benefits for the wider region.


Bay of Connections portfolio manager, Cheryl Lewis says the region has so much to offer.


“The Bay of Plenty has an excellent climate and facilities that are suitable for delivering excellent training programmes. Given the location, the Bay is also a great place to visit and learn about New Zealand’s culture”, Ms Lewis says.


“The education providers and sporting expertise based in the Bay provide the framework to deliver a sport and learning package that can help players and staff grow and develop on and off the field.”


In 2017, 11,500 players were registered in the Bay of Plenty making it the third biggest provincial union in New Zealand in terms of participation.