1 October 2014 at 9:00 am

Game On English a hit in Tokyo

In mid-September ENZ and MFAT jointly hosted a debrief event for the students who came to New Zealand with the Game On English pilot programmes.

The event provided an opportunity to showcase the benefits of the programme and to get feedback from the students to help with discussions on the further development of the programme.
Held at the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo, the event brought together the students, Japanese Ministry of Education officials, Japan Rugby Union representatives, media and other stakeholders. Adding real star power to the event was Black Ferns Captain Huriana Manuel – along with a black moonboot – following up on her attendance at the launch of Game On English in Auckland back in July. 
Students from both of the pilots presented on their experience in New Zealand– many in English. The students were full of confidence and enthusiasm about what they had learnt and experienced in New Zealand.
Vice Minister for Education Shinichi Yamanaka spent time with the students as they talked about their time in New Zealand. Chairman of the Japanese Rugby Football Union, Tatsuzo Yabe also attended the event and spoke positively about this NZ Inc. initiative. Both commented on the holistic nature of the programme, equally developing students’ English language and rugby skills which are necessary to play at the top level. 
Japan is now looking towards hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics which will feature Sevens Rugby, sparking an increased interest in rugby in Japan. We are now exploring how the Game On English programme might be developed in 2015 and beyond. 
Two teams participated in the pilot programmes. The first, a top girls’ sevens team from Iwami Chisuikan High School spent four weeks in Auckland working on their English with the Auckland Institute of Studies and their rugby skills with the Auckland Rugby Academy. Their visit coincided with Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s visit to New Zealand, and he and Prime Minister Key launched Game On English in style in Auckland.
Player Ran Aoki said: “The best part of the programme was the training. Auckland Rugby made it fun and give invaluable comments and feedback.
“Kiwis value the quality of training in a given timeframe over accumulated hours which allowed us to get the most out of our short stay in New Zealand.”
The second team in the Game On English pilot was a group of 11 boys from the 11 schools making up the Kanto Super League who were in Dunedin from mid-July through early August. The boys divided their time between the gym and training ground with the Otago Rugby Football Union and the classroom at the University of Otago Language Centre.
“Partnerships between English language schools and rugby unions were key to the success of the pilot programmes. For the month they were in New Zealand, the students were fully immersed in an English speaking environment which started with their homestay families and went on the through the classroom and into their rugby,” said Francesca Hilbron, ENZ’s International Market Manager.
“And they’ve had a New Zealand rugby experience that could see them on the way to being stars of the future.”

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