Japan Women team manager Akane Kagawa has revealed the seven commandments it is hoped will help inspire the Sakura to win Olympic gold in Tokyo.

Kagawa was a guest on Asia Rugby Live last month, and made no secret of the fact that the hosts were determined to win the sevens tournament at the rearranged Olympic Games in July.

“Of course, our target is to get a medal,” she said. “The colour should be gold.”

As the squad prepares for the tournament, which will be held at Tokyo Stadium, the players have taken inspiration from the cherry blossom that is the emblem of the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) and appears on the team’s kit.

The Sakura players have also bought into seven team rules: self-management, consideration, gratitude, respect, pride, decency and harmony.

“As you can see on our shirt, our union logo is a cherry blossom,” Kagawa said. 

“Cherry blossom is very beautiful, but it doesn’t last long. Once they bloom they are just gone for a very short time period, so all of those flowers will make an effort to be the best during [the time] they are blooming.

“So, we are just having that image in our team as well, so the cherry blossom actually represents what we do as a team. 

“To achieve what we would like to do in our team, we [also] have seven rules in our team.” 

She added: “For us to perform well in the game of rugby, it is required of all the players not only to train hard but also put value on their attitude as a national representative player, on and off the field. 

“Therefore, both our players and staff always have these rules in their mind, and try to implement them on an every-day basis. 

“As a representative of Japan we would like to be top of the world on and off the field. To achieve that we are determined to make our best effort for Tokyo 2020 with these seven rules.”

Chinese potential

Kagawa appeared on Asia Rugby Live alongside China women’s sevens head coach, Euan Mackintosh, Chinese national team player, Chen Keyi and Chinese Rugby Football Association communications manager Wang Xizi.

China booked their first appearance at the Olympics with victory over Hong Kong in November, 2019, and have been together as a squad since returning to the country in March.

Mackintosh, who joked he would see Kagawa in the Olympic final at Tokyo Stadium, has been pleased with how his players have adapted during a difficult year.

“The potential here is huge,” he said. “I didn’t know a lot about the rugby set-up before I came, but seeing the structures that have been put in place and the number of players who are actually playing the game, it’s definitely an exciting time looking at the potential that China has.

“With obviously us qualifying for the Olympics for the first time, it opens up a lot of doors for us with regards to the promotion of rugby sevens here… just to inspire some younger female athletes to play a game that probably a lot of them don’t know exists. So, it’s a pretty exciting time.”

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