Raroa's Operation Japan

Last updated 09:31 22/02/2013
Raroa rugby
Fun training: Kayden Muller, left, Cam Robertson and Hugo Plummer enjoy rugby training at Raroa Intermediate.

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Culture and rugby will collide for 20 Raroa Intermediate rugby players in Japan this year.

For nine days in June the youngsters will visit Fukuoka to play rugby, mingle with the locals and immerse themselves in the Japanese way of life.

They have some idea of what is in store. "They're really hospitable and they've got really good food and the stuff's cheap," Cam Robinson, 12, said.

Cam and his team-mates, Hugo Plummer and Kayden Muller, said they were excited about the trip and the challenge of raising the money to get there.

The idea for the tour came from teacher Shelley Olliver-Bell.

"The reason for Japan is that my husband coaches over there. We lived there in 2003 and 2004. He to and fros between Japan and New Zealand, so we've got a lot of contacts over there."

At the end of last year, the budding rugby players were given the opportunity to go to Japan.

"The cut-off was 20. It was the first 20 who got their forms in. It was open to girls, but the boys got their forms in first," Mrs Olliver- Bell said.

The team Mrs Olliver-Bell's husband coaches is Sanix Blues, the first division side that All Black Brad Thorn played for.

Fukuoka is considered to be a rural area, "although to us it definitely doesn't seem rural. There are people everywhere and high- rise buildings," she said.

Though the environment may be daunting, she said the people were warm and welcoming.

"They're so excited about us coming. They want to help put our itinerary together."

The pupils, teachers and parent helpers have some exciting activities lined up in Japan, including visiting the Space World theme park, a shrine and a local school, and taking part in martial arts and calligraphy. They will also go to a baseball game.

The rugby team will play three games.

The boys realise it will be a different style of rugby and said they were keen to see what the Japanese players' skills were like.

Experiencing the Japanese culture is also high on their priorities and the players will spend three nights in family homestays.

For now, they have to fundraise like crazy. They cleaned up after the Round the Bays race on Sunday, there will be a garage sale on February 23 and then sausage sizzles and quiz nights.

"We are looking for anyone who would like to hop on board with sponsorship or anyone who sees a niche for fundraising opportunities," Mrs Olliver-Bell said.

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- The Wellingtonian


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