This article explores a little about Kotaro Matsushima, a Japanese rugby player who plays for French Top 14 side ASM Clermont Auvergne. He is a versatile rugby player who plays on the wing but can also play at both fullback and center. 

Matsushima was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1993. His mother is Japanese and his father is Zimbabwean. His early life consisted of back and forth shifts between South Africa and Japan. He was schooled in both countries, but it was on his return to South Africa—aged 12—when he started to play rugby. 

Matsushima’s rugby career took off in 2012 when he enrolled at the Sharks Academy in Durban. He was the first Japanese player to do so. He made a promising start to his career with the Sharks, where he eventually became a prominent feature in the Sharks U21 side. 

His rugby path progressed when he went on to join Suntory Sungoliath in Japan’s domestic competition before switching to play for two different Australian Super Rugby sides, the New South Wales Waratahs and the Melbourne Rebels. Matsushima debuted for Japan’s International Rugby team, The Brave Blossoms, on May 3rd, 2014 in a 2014 Asian Five Nations match against the Philippines. He scored two tries in the match, assisting his side in beating the hosts 99–10. 

Then, Matsushima joined ASM Clermont Auvergne in 2020. His playing prowess was first noticed by French rugby when he played at full-back in Japan’s 23-all draw with France in 2017. Matsushima’s prowess was further enhanced by his performance in the 2019 Rugby World Cup, where he scored five tries—including a hat-trick in the opening match against Russia. 

Matsushima has an impressive skill set that includes line–breaking speed, a slick side step, fierce determination and composure under the highball . He remains an integral part of Clermont’s back line and claims the “experience [in France] has helped [me] to grow as an athlete”. 

Japan is an ever-improving side, and we should look forward to Matsushima’s experiences in France making a big impact for his country in the 2023 Rugby World Cup 🏉

Vocabulary List

versatile 用途の広い
to consist of からなり立てる
back and forth ~の間を行ったり来たりして
to be schooled in 学ばされる
to take off 成功する
promising 有望な
eventually 最終的に
prominent feature 顕著な特徴

to progress 進歩する、向上する
to be enhanced 強化する
hat-trick 1人のプレーヤーにより1ゲーム3得点
slick 腕のいい
fierce 猛烈な
composure 落ち着き
integral 不可欠

Word List

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