Profile of Yoshihiro Sakata
Entered Doshisha University after graduating Rakuhoku High School.
While at university in 1963, he was selected for the first time as a member of the Japan National Rugby Union team. After graduating, he Joined Kintetsu Railway Company and its rugby club (the present Kintetsu Liners).
In 1968, he was selected as a member of the Japan National Rugby Union team led by HC Tetsuyuki Ohnishi for a New Zealand tour.
He contributed to the team scoring four tries against the Junior All Blacks. Sakata, nicknamed "Flying Wing Sakata," was also selected as a "Player of the Year" in New Zealand. He moved to Canterbury University the following year where he played as a member of the Canterbury team. This made him the first Japanese player to play in the First Division of New Zealand's National Provincial Championship and to play with the NZ Barbarians.
In 1970, he was nominated as a candidate for a South Africa tour as a NZ representative. A local newspaper reported, "Take Sakata to South Africa!"
On January 15th 1975, Sakata retired after the match against Waseda University held at the National Stadium and also left Kintetsu. After that, he was appointed a Professor and Head Coach of the Rugby Football Club at Osaka University of Health and Sports Sciences, a post he held until 2012.
On September 7th 2007, on the outskirts of Paris, at the opening ceremony of the 6th Rugby World Cup held in the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, 80,000 spectators welcomed 20 of the world's leading rugby legends with great applause. They included Jean-Pierre Rives, the renowned FL and former captain of the French National team; Gareth Edwards, SH of Wales; and John Eales, LO and captain of the Australian national team. "Flying Wing Sakata" was one of the legends invited to the ceremony and was introduced as a leading player in Japan and Asia.
On June 5th 2012, Sakata was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame by the International Rugby Council.
On September 15th, he announced his intention to retire as RFC Head Coach for Osaka University of Health and Sports Science at the end of the 2012 season.
He finally retired after the match with Waseda University during the second stage of the university league held at Hanazono Stadium on December 23rd.
Yoshihiro Sakata, who attended the opening ceremony of the 6th Rugby World Cup in France as a goodwill ambassador