KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa, Japan --
U.S. service members with the Camp Courtney Rugby Club Jagers, hosted the Okinawa Rugby School Bulls, and other local rugby teams for a tomodachi, friendship in Japanese, rugby day, here, July 1. The event included youth tag rugby games and adult sevens games followed by a social with all of the teams.
Clubs that participated included the Bulls, Koza Youth Rugby, Koza Rugby, Siesar Rugby and Courtney Rugby.
The event started with a youth tournament during which children played and interacted with the adults in a friendly match of tag rugby. This portion of the event was a great opportunity for the kids to come out and try a new sport or continue to learn the game in a fun and safe environment, according to Yuuki Hiyane, coach of the Okinawa Rugby School Bulls.
“I was very impressed with the international exchange through rugby. The kids were excited to play in a new place and enjoy the beautiful grounds,” said Hiyane. “One of our efforts is to have Japanese and Americans become friends through this tournament and I hope to continue to promote rugby in Okinawa with the Jagers.”
Following the youth games, the adult teams conducted a sevens tournament in which there are seven players from each team playing against each other in two fast-paced, seven-minute halves.
“My favorite part of the event was the camaraderie between the teams and having the kids come out and play. Playing against the locals is always a blast, they are all solid teams and very friendly,” said Cpl. Elijah Stewart, a firefighter with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. “When you’re on the pitch, it’s competition, but anytime there’s a whistle blown or a tackle made the locals always have a smile on their face or a hand out to help you get up. We could not play rugby here without them, and every single Jager member appreciates their hospitality.”
The club’s inclusion in the Okinawa Rugby Football Union (ORFU), is one of the special aspects of rugby on Okinawa. Through competition against local teams, to coming together as one community, camaraderie and sportsmanship is a universal characteristic of the sport. Being a part of ORFU, the club immerses in the Okinawan community, and local teams get to know the military community better.
“Saturday was an excellent rugby day. As hosts, the whole team pitched in to provide a great opportunity for competition and camaraderie,” said Lt. Col. Charles “Mackerel” Jordan, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade air officer. “It is enjoyable watching the great, athletic, talented players from our club get better by playing together, learning the game, and testing themselves against skilled players.”
The Camp Courtney Rugby Club Jager’s mission is to grow the game in the joint military community, build strong friendships with those in ORFU, and to be strong, be humble and be good teammates. The club has recently been accepted as a member of ORFU and looks forward to their future participation in more events with the local community. Upcoming events include Yomitan Sevens Village Mayor’s Cup on July 9, 2023, at Zanpa Premium Sport Park and the Youth Rugby Intercultural Friendship Games on July 22, 2023, aboard Camp Foster.
For more information about the club, contact email@example.com or find them on Facebook @Courtney Rugby Club: Jager.