Waseda University’s Rugby Club Kicks Off New Era with 1st Women’s Team; Head Coach Former Member of Japan’s Rugby Sevens Team

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Members of the Waseda University women’s rugby team train in Suginami Ward, Tokyo, on April 18.

More than a century after its establishment, Waseda University’s rugby club now has its first women’s team.

Team captain Kae Chigita is setting her sights high. “I want to expand the base of women’s rugby and play while upholding the name of this historic club,” third-year student Chigita said at a press conference in Tokyo on April 18.

Waseda’s rugby club was founded in 1918 and has won the Japan University Rugby Championship 16 times. Last year, some female students expressed interest in playing rugby for the prestigious club, just like their male peers.

Roughly 2,527 members participated in the university’s sports clubs during the previous academic year, according to the university. There were 877 women, or about 35%. The university decided to establish a women’s rugby team to increase opportunities for female players to participate in the sport and to inject fresh energy into the rugby club.

The women’s team, consisting of 11 members including a manager and a trainer, started their activities on April 1. The team members range from first-year to third-year students. Some have been eagerly playing rugby since they were young, while others are total novices.

“It was physically exhausting at first, but now I’ve begun enjoying rugby more and more,” said Miku Okimura, a second-year student who previously had been a cheer squad member.

The team is preparing for its first official rugby sevens game in May, where they will wear the same traditional red-and-black jerseys worn by the men’s team. 31-year-old head coach Chisato Yokoo, who was a member of Japan’s sevens team, has high expectations for them.

“I want the players to excel at both rugby and in their studies, and I’m aiming for them to become the best team in Japan,” said Yokoo.