Profile: Marie Yamaguchi

Watching Marie Yamaguchi on the wing for Japan is like watching a certain Williams whizz past defenders for Wales. Few wingers on the Asian women's circuit have the dazzling side step and speed that is packed in a petite frame. Yamaguchi who has been honing her craft in Australia and New Zealand spoke to us a little about her experiences there.

Picture courtesy of Haruka Takahashi
Name: Marie Yamaguchi
Age: 22
Occupation: Office Worker
Country of residence:

Playing Career:
Age 12-15 Yokohama Rugby Academy in Japan
Age 16-18 Phoenix in Japan
Age 19-21 Sydney University Women's Club Team in Australia
Age 22- Rugir-7 in Japan (From April 2012 to June 2012: HUIA rugby football club team in New Zealand.)

No. of years playing for the Japanese National Team: 6 years. I was selected as a national player when I was 16 years old.

Highlights of National Team Career: Asia Sevens in 2007 (2nd) Asian Rugby Union Game in 2008(2nd) Sevens World Cup in 2009. In Dubai, Asian World Cup Qualification in 2009 (2nd) JOC Asia Sevens in 2009 (2nd) JOC Asia Sevens in 2010 (5th) Asian Four Nations in China in 2012(2nd)

How and when did you start playing rugby?
I started to play tag rugby when I was 10 years old. I just love it. Then, when I was 12 years old, my coach taught me how to play rugby. My coach was good at introducing rugby. So I wasn't scared to tackle oppornents. That's how I started to play rugby.

Did you play any other sports before rugby? and how is rugby different from the other sports you have played? 
I used to join track and field club for 3 years at Jr high school. I did sprint and jump. I was in the good level but I did too much training then i injured because I kept practicing rugby too. So I couldn't attend nationals.

What has your experience in playing in Australia been like and how does it compare with playing in Japan? 
I had great experience in Australia. In Japan, we don't have many union games as well as sevens. At the most, we have union games about 4 games within one year. However, in Australia, it has a season that starts from April to August. I could play rugby union every Saturday. Moreover, I played rugby league on every Friday night. I could not imagine that environment.

After the union season, sevens, touch, and Australian tag rugby will come over. I could touch rugby ball in the whole season. That's what I wanted to. So the rugby environment is totally different.

Also, players are different too because they enjoyed playing rugby and praising each other. In Japan, players are more like serious if they make some mistakes. I think because Japanese are very polite and serious so it's an our characteristic.

Do you think playing abroad has made you a better player?
I think it is because there is a lot of opportunities to play games in overseas. Playing many games are very important to improve a player's skill and mind. Also, if you practice with great players, you will be motivated and encouraged.

What is your weekly training schedule like?
I'm now working as an office lady. But I have a rugby practice three times a week then about twice a week I go to gym. Then every weekend, I have a training camp or rugby practice as an Japan Rep.

What has been the most challenging incident/aspect/event of your rugby career so far? 
When I was in Sydney, I was selected as NSW Rep in 2010. In my team and other teams, there were some Australian national players. So I was challenging to play with them. Moreover, we won the game at Nationals so it was great challenging and experience for me.

Who is your biggest rugby supporter?
My biggest supporter is my coach who have been teaching me since I started to play rugby.

The finals of the Asian 4 Nations 2012 last month between Kazakhstan and Japan in Kunshan was quite a close game (17-8). What do you think Japan needs to do to beat Kazakhstan?
Yes, it was close game but we couldn't win the game because we haven't had good passing skill and running technique. We didn't have many attacking situations but we had many chances to get tries. We need to practice and experience how to get try easily and smart especially an important situation. Moreover, our defense was better than before we played against Kazakhstan because we tackled very low which they don't like it. However, they are strong and skillful so in order to beat them, we need to be more fit and skillful. 

What does rugby mean to you? 
Rugby is my life itself.

Quick Fire 

Favourite Player: Dan Carter/ Kelly Mccullum/Cheryl McAfee

Favourite Team: All Blacks/Wallabies

Favourite Japanese dish: Yakiniku/Ramen

Best place you have visited: New Zealand

If I didn't spend so much time playing rugby .....I don't I think I would be normal

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