Japan’s cult hero from ‘Miracle of Brighton’ win over Springboks, to retire

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Japan’s Ayumu Goromaru, who enjoyed cult status after leading his country to a historic Rugby World Cup win over South Africa, will retire at the end of the 2021 domestic season.

The 34-year-old was estimated as the world’s richest player following his performances at the 2015 World Cup in England, where he scored 24 points in “Miracle of Brighton” 34-32 victory over the Springboks.

DISTINCTIVE GOAL-KICKING STANCE

Goromaru’s rugged good looks and distinctive goal-kicking stance earned him a huge following in Japan, with a bronze statue and a “Master of Ninjas” title among the honours bestowed on the fullback, who also had a giraffe named after him at a Japanese zoo.

Goromaru-mania even prompted fans to flock to see a Buddha statue said to be in a similar pose to that the pin-up struck in his pre-kick routine.

After unsuccessful stints with the Reds and Toulon, he returned to Japan’s Yamaha Jubilo in 2017.

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Despite winning 57 caps for Japan, he missed out on a place in the national squad when the country hosted the 2019 World Cup – a tournament that saw the Brave Blossoms reach the last eight for the first time in their history.

Former Japan head coach and current England boss Eddie Jones bemoaned Goromaru’s on-field fall from grace following the 2015 World Cup, accusing the player of spending more time filming commercials than practising goal-kicking.

The Top League, Japan’s domestic competition, kicks off its season on January 16, 2021, and runs until May.

It will be the final season before the launch of a new competition in 2022.

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