Born: 7 July, 1922 | Died: 1 April, 2007
World Rugby Hall of Fame – Inductee No.144
Few individuals can have made as large a contribution to rugby in their own country than Shiggy Konno, who was awarded an honorary OBE by Her Majesty The Queen in 1985 for his services to the game and helping to improve Anglo-Japanese relations.
A second-row, Konno played for Doshisha University from 1942-47 but was deprived of an international career because of World War Two, in which he served as a pilot. Having learnt to speak perfect English during his early schooling in London, Konno was the ideal choice to be liaison officer when Oxford University visited Japan in 1952. So began an unrivalled career in rugby administration that saw him referred to affectionately as Japan’s Mr Rugby.
A wonderfully engaging man, Konno was Japan national team manager on nearly all their overseas tours from 1963-90, and at the first two Rugby World Cups in 1987 and 1991. He was appointed honorary secretary of the Japan Rugby Football Union in 1962 and went on to serve as chairman, from 1972-94, and president as well as holding many prominent roles within the Asian Rugby Football Union.
For a decade, from 1991-2001, he was an executive member of the International Rugby Board’s Council, assisting the game in its transition from the amateur to professional era. Konno died on 1 April, 2007 at the age of 84 with his funeral was held in Zojoji Temple in Tokyo, the head temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism in the Kanto region.