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Women's rugby has given me a chance to leap into the world!

Ms. Makiko Tomita

Sprinting on the green turf, using a series of passes and then scoring a try! Is rugby a sport for men who get fired up? Not necessarily. Some women spend their youth playing rugby.

With her suntanned healthy skin, a beaming smile, and shining white teeth, Ms. Tomita dedicated her life to this sport she believes in, is a 1st year student in the School of International Liberal Studies and a member of Team Japan of women's rugby. "It is still a minor sport in Japan, so if you make the effort, you can represent Japan and have a chance to play in world-class games. I want to achieve good results so that women's rugby becomes more popular and to communicate the joy of rugby," says Ms. Tomita, in high spirits because she can play in more matches in university.

She started playing rugby when a third-grade student at high school, but according to her, she couldn't catch up with the others at first. "I wanted to play better, and the only way is secret special training!" she thought. Every morning and evening, she practiced passes, kicks and scrum with her sturdy father who happily helped her because he was the captain of the rugby team at university, spending his youth playing the sport. "Only recently, he started to tell me that I am getting good at it," says Ms. Tomita, letting a smile spread over her face. "He has finally recognized my skill."

So what is the environment for women playing rugby in Japan? "Not so good. Even if we want practice games, there are only a few teams whose skills are comparable to us, but I don't want to blame the environment." Driven by her devotion to the sport, she decided to study in Australia where rugby is popular. "Everything is different, from physique to the speed of passes. But I would never had such a chance in Japan!" She participated in a selection of a local club, joined the team, and played against bigger players again and again. She returned to Japan in 2008. "My teammates were surprised because I was bigger than before going to Australia, and said, 'You're like an overseas player,'" says Ms. Tomita, laughing. "Everyone challenges me, saying they want to try tackles. I'm happy to help them understand what I learned in Australia." It is amazing that behind her carefully smiling face, there is such strength.

Why did you enter the School of International Liberal Studies? "Of course, I love rugby, but I didn't want to limit my future to it." While studying in Australia, she taught Japanese to local people and became attracted to teaching Japanese overseas. "I wanted to get a wider view of things, go through a course of study for the teaching profession and thus entered the School of International Liberal Studies of Waseda!" As she was originally interested in foreign languages, she didn't hesitate to choose her path. "In the first semester, I was heavily into Arabic because I thought I would go to the Middle East someday on a rugby tour (laughing). I'm also happy to learn a comprehensive range of studies such as international relations and economics." She seems to be interested in everything around her.

"Women's rugby has given me a chance to leap into the world," says Ms. Tomita. Her current target is to "study in Scotland where Sevens* was born." She is expecting much of her university life that has just begun.

*Rugby is comprised of 15-a-side and seven-a side (sevens). Thanks to its inclusion in the Olympics, rugby sevens is now attracting a lot of attention.

She looks gallant during a match

Look at the muscles on her thighs!

Concentrating before the match, believing in victory

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Makiko Tomita

Born in Okayama Prefecture and raised in Chiba Prefecture. Graduated from Atomi Gakuen Junior & Senior High School. Freshman at the School of International Liberal Studies. Belongs to Waseda's rugby circle, GW (Gray & White Rugby Club,) and as a player, participates in men's practices. Also belongs to the Setagaya Ladies R.F.C. and took second place in the 21st Kanto Women's Rugby Football Competition. Selected as a member of Team Japan and participated in the 2010 Hong Kong Sevens and the 16th Asian Rugby Championship. Actively engaged in the sport through tours to England and the Singapore Sevens. She always brings playing cards when touring overseas. Her favorite food is grilled meat and tomato. "I love harvesting tomatoes cultivated by my grandmother in Okayama and eat them whole!" Movies that have made her cry recently are "Umizaru: The Last Message" and "Toy-story 3." Sports she loves other than rugby is the marathon. "I was always first in the marathon throughout my elementary school days!" She uses boots that Lionel Messi, the soccer player uses.