10 Years On: Rugby Lifts Spirits in Tsunami-Struck Kamaishi


Kamaishi, Iwate Pref., March 10 (Jiji Press)--Passion for rugby football in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, offers a beacon of hope for the northeastern Japan city ravaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Yoshihiko Sakuraba, general manager of a local club team, said.

"We were able to aim for the same goal, the World Cup," Sakuraba, 54, of the Kamaishi Seawaves Rugby Football Club said of his relationship with the city in the decade after the disaster. "That became a great asset."

Kamaishi hosted matches in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, living up to its name as a "rugby town." The Seawaves are the successors of a former Kamaishi-based corporate team that won the national championship seven consecutive times.

Sakuraba said that he remembers vividly the sight of the city in the immediate aftermath of the quake and tsunami. He said that he began to have doubts about continuing with the sport while volunteering to clean up the rubble with players from the team.

"In the face of the calamity, I became unsure about whether we could recover," he said. "I felt that now was not the time for rugby."

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press