Buffing up body with six daily meals

Interview with Chuo rugby player Atomu Shirai



In September last year, the Japan national team in Rugby World Cup (RWC 2105) caused a stir by beating South Africa in a dramatic upset win. The great victory brought a rugby boom across Japan along with full-back Ayumu Goromaru’s popular routine pose before goal kicks. Hakumon Herald interviewed Atomu Shirai (a third grader of Chuo University’s Faculty of Law), who is one of hopefuls expected to join the Japan national squad in the future. Shirai took part in annual national rugby championships twice in his high-school days and his side took second place in one of them. He plays center back in the Chuo team.

昨年9月、ラグビー・ワールドカップで日本代表が南アフリカに劇的な逆転勝利をし、日本にラグビー・ブームが到来した。また、同代表の五郎丸歩選手がゴール・キックをする前に行うルーティン"五郎丸ポーズ″ も人気を博した。今回、登場してもらうのは、高校時代に全国大会に2度出場し、準優勝の優秀な成績も収め、将来の日本代表と期待される中央大学法学部3年のラグビー部員で、ユニークな名前を持つ白井吾士矛(しらい・あとむ)さん。ポジションはセンターバック。その白井選手にいろいろ話を聞いてみた。


-You have a rather rare given name for a Japanese. Can you tell us about its origin?



Shirai: It comes from the Japanese animation film Tetsuwan Atomu (Mighty Atom). My parents named me after that hero, wishing I would grow up as strong and vigorous as him. I like my name because it helps everybody remember me quite easily. Of course, I love Tetsuwan Atomu.

白井 アニメの鉄腕アトムです。両親が鉄腕アトムのように力強く、たくましい子どもに育ってほしいという願いを込めて名付けてくれました。この名前のおかげで、すぐに自分を覚えてもらえるので嬉しいです。ちなみに鉄腕アトムはもちろん大好きです。


  -How did you start playing rugby?



Shirai: I started playing rugby with my classmates during the lunch break when I was a fourth grader of an elementary school. I later joined a local rugby club.

白井 小学4年のころ、昼休みに同じクラスの友達とラグビーをしたことがきっかけです。地元のラグビーチームにも入りました。


  -Tell us about the activity of Chuo’s rugby team.



  Shirai: In the first place, all college rugby teams in the Kanto region play either in the Kanto University Rugby Football Association (KURFA) competition or in the Japan East Rugby Football Union (JERFU) league competition. The former is popular because it groups many traditional universities like Waseda, Keio and Teikyo. Unfortunately, the latter to which Chuo belongs isn’t quite popular. The stand used to have a lot of vacant seats in our matches in the past. We wanted more people will come to see our matches and set a target of mobilizing 10,000 spectators. We sold tickets on the campus as part of our publicity campaign. As a result, as many as 7,000 people came to watch our recent matches. We failed to achieve our target but we were very much pleased.

白井 まず、関東の大学で行われているラグビーの試合は、おもに「関東大学ラグビー対抗戦」と「関東大学ラグビーリーグ戦」の2つがあります。対抗戦は早・慶や帝京大など伝統校がひしめき、人気も高いです。一方、私たちが所属するリーグ戦は、残念ながら人気が低く、試合でも空席が目立ちました。そこで、リーグ戦にも多くの人に試合を見てもらいたいと思い、来場者数1万人を目指しました。その活動の1つとして、中央大学でチケットも売りました。結果として、1万人には届きませんでしたが、7000人もの人に来てもらい、大変嬉しかったです。


In order to improve skills



-Did you practice in a way different from other players to improve your skills?



Shirai: I spent three months in Auckland, New Zealand, to improve my skills. I was enrolled in Auckland Rugby Academy that offers efficient training programs. I learned muscle training and nutrition science there, and played matches with local club teams. While staying in Auckland, I took six meals a day, trying not to get hungry.

白井 ニュージーランドのオークランドに約3カ月、留学しました。技術向上のためです。オークランド・ラグビーアカデミーという選手育成機関に在籍しました。そこで、筋力トレーニングや栄養学について学んだり、現地のクラブチームと試合をしたりしました。食事は1日6食。空腹の時間をつくらないように心がけていました。(笑い)


-What was your impression of the matches you had with the local club teams?



Shirai: I found most New Zealanders very big, tough and strong. Japanese coaches often tell us, “Don’t make mistakes!” But New Zealand players are not afraid to make mistakes and play a large-scale and bold rugby. That was impressive to me.

白井 ニュージーランドの選手は体がとにかく大きい上に、強靭で、とても強かったです。また日本では「ミスをするな」と指導されますが、ニュージーランドの選手はミスを恐れずに、スケールの大きい大胆なラグビーをしていることが印象的でした。


       Aiming for semifinals


        -What is your own and team’s goal in the future?



  Shirai: I personally want to become a player like Ma’a Allan Nonu, a former New Zealand national team member, who is known for accurate passing skills, powerful tackles and speedy plays. I would like to contribute to the Japan national team in the future just like him. As a team, we are aiming to reach the quarterfinals in the annual All-Japan Intercollegiate Rugby Football championships.

白井 正確なパス技術、力強いタックル、スピード感あるプレーで有名な元ニュージーランド代表 マア・ノヌー選手のような選手になって、将来は日本代表として貢献したいです。チームの目標としては、全国大学ラグビーフットボール選手権大会でベスト4入賞を目指しています。


-What do you routinely do to achieve that goal?



Shirai: I make it a rule to keep my rugby diary. After the end of each match and practice, I set down points to reflect on and to be improved. Thanks to this note, we can practice more efficiently. One of weak points about our team is that we are physically smaller than those of other universities. Body building is essential to win in matches. So, we make it a rule to have six meals a day in addition taking protein. We usually eat 600 grams of rice (four bowls) each time.



-We wish you all the best! Thank you for your time.



 (Interviewed by: Yuto Yawata) (聞き手:八幡侑斗)