JRFU Announce Brave Blossoms New Team Director and Assistant Team Director

The Japan Rugby Football Union is delighted to announce the appointment of Yoji Nagatomo as Team Director and Toshiaki Hirose as Assistant Team Director of the Japan Men’s National Team. Both are well known in Japanese rugby, as players at both club and international level, and for their ongoing work in rugby following their playing days.

As the director of the Japan National Team, Nagatomo will be responsible for a variety of team and operational management areas within the Brave Blossoms’ programme. He will also focus on strengthening the cooperation between the national team, Japan Rugby League One clubs and other stakeholder groups.

Nagatomo brings significant experience to the role, having represented Japan in both fifteens and sevens, while also playing for nine years with Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath. Following his playing career, Nagatomo has worked as a coach, team director and club general manager with Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath, Yokohama Canon Eagles and the Japan National Team.

Commenting on his appointment, Yoji Nagatomo said:

“We have the ambition to bring the World Cup back to Japan, to develop the Brave Blossoms into a top-four team and to grow Japan’s rugby player and supporter base. To achieve this, we need to build on our existing strengths and work in unison towards Eddie Jones’ vision of super-fast rugby. Throughout my rugby life I have been working with players, coaches, team officials, local governments and prefectural associations, sponsors, and supporters. I want to utilise this experience to work with all Japan rugby stakeholders to nurture and develop our national team and the broader game in Japan.”

In his role as Assistant Team Director, Hirose will focus on leadership development within the National Team set up, to help identify and develop emerging leaders within the Brave Blossoms, as well as the Japan XV, and national age-group sides. He will also work on building leadership capabilities across the wider playing group to help support players as they transition from being professional rugby players into their post-playing careers.

Capped 28 times for Japan and a member of the Brave Blossom’s team at Rugby World Cup 2015, Hirose played 12 years with Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo before retiring in 2016. He has since gone on to complete an MBA and set up HiRAKU, an organisation focused on team building and leadership development. In the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup in Japan, Hirose led Scrum Unison, a project where fans across Japan learnt the national anthems of teams participating in the tournament. The programme was a memorable feature of the World Cup, welcoming fans from across the world with the true spirit of Japanese Omotenashi.

Commenting on his appointment, Toshiaki Hirose said:

“I’m delighted to return to the JRFU in a completely different role from my playing days. While making use of the career I have cultivated so far, I want to help prepare players and staff to develop within the unique characteristics of Japanese rugby and to help rugby make an even greater impact on society. In doing so, we can strengthen and grow our sport while also introducing new players and fans to our wonderful game and bringing them into the Japan rugby family.”

Both Nagatomo and Hirose will assume their new roles from June 1, 2024.

Yoji Nagatomo Profile

DOB: March 14, 1971

Hometown: Miyazaki Prefecture

Alma mater: Meiji University

Playing Position: Scrum Half

Playing Career:

  • Japan National Team
    • Fifteens: Eight Caps
    • Sevens: 10 Caps
  • 1993-2002 Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath
  • 1989-1993 Meiji University
  • 1986-1989 Miyakonojo High School

Post Playing Career:

  • 2017- 2024 General Manager, Yokohama Canon Eagles
  • 2017 Vice Chairman, Men’s Fifteens Japan National Team Reinforcement
  • 2012-2016 Director, Yokohama Canon Eagles
  • 2009-2011 Head Coach, Yokohama Canon Eagles
  • 2003-2005 Director, Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath.

Toshiaki Hirose Profile

DOB: October 17, 1981

Hometown: Osaka Prefecture

Alma mater: Keio University

Playing Position: Wing, Fly-half

Playing Career:

  • Japan National Team
    • Fifteens: 28 Caps
    • Rugby World Cup 2015 Squad Member
  • 2004-2016 Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo
  • 2000-2004 Keio University
  • 1997-2000 Kitano High School

Post Playing Career:

  • Completed MBA
  • Led ‘Scrum Unison’ Project ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019
  • 2019 Established HiRAKU Co., Ltd.