Japan Rugby powerhouse Michael Leitch visited Mongolia recently to uncover potential future rugby stars.
Leitch, who spoke to Asia Rugby on the day the Sunwolves made history in Super Rugby, has been one of the most influential figures in the growth of rugby in Asia to date.
Now he’s turning his attention to the future and took a trip to Mongolia after being inspired by some of the dominant Mongolian sumo wrestling champions.
“I believe that with the background in sport and history that Mongolians can become great athletes in rugby,” said Leitch.
“I want to provide scholarship to young athletes to provide an opportunity to potentially change their lives through sport, through rugby.
“The idea is to identify potential young Mongolians who can develop in rugby. Mongolians are not shy of combat, they love wrestling and have a lot of history in combat so I think rugby is a sport that Mongolians will come to love more.”
It is a busy year for rugby in Japan and in Asia with the first-ever Rugby World Cup in Asia taking place later this year in Leitch’s home country.
Michael Leitch On Rugby World Cup 2019
“I think the Rugby World Cup in Asia in Japan is going to have a very positive impact on Asian Rugby,” added Leitch.
“Having it here will attract a large audience, and hopefully that audience involves a lot of kids.”
“They then get to see rugby for the first time and hopefully get an interest in it, have conversations with their friends, join their local team, and hopefully from there the grassroots can grow in developing nations and from there Asia can really progress on the world scene.”
— Asia Rugby (@asiarugby) March 2, 2019