Never too old to try

Rugby is a tough sport - dozens of players running, passing, mauling, scrumming and crashing into one another to fight for the ball and get it to the end zone.

For the players of Fuwaku rugby club (those in striped jerseys), however, what is amazing is not just the players' tenacity, but their age.

Fuwaku, founded in 1948, is one of approximately 150 Japanese clubs that stage competitive, full-contact matches for players over the age of 40, with the oldest active player being a sprightly 86 years old.

Fuwaku's general manager Mitsuaki Okajima estimates there are around 10,000 veteran rugby players in clubs across Japan, and his club alone has 300 players competing across all age categories.

In a country where there is much concern over the loneliness of the elderly, rugby not only keeps the players active, but also offers a ready-made social life.

Japan hopes the Rugby World Cup, which it will host from Sept 20 to Nov 2, will boost awareness of the game in the country and bring through a whole generation of young rugby players.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2019, with the headline 'Never too old to try'. Print Edition | Subscribe