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Foreign rugby players stay to help

by Kaz Nagatsuka

After the ravaging earthquake and tsunami, and with the ongoing radiation issues at the Fukushima nuclear plant, there seems to be no end to the exodus of top import athletes in baseball, soccer and basketball.

But for most of the foreign players and coaches of the Kamaishi Seawaves, a rugby union club in the Top East 11 league, that wasn’t the case. They could easily have gone because they are currently in their offseason. Instead they chose to stay to give a hand to the community they are rooted in.

The club was formerly known as the Nippon Steel Corporation and once was one of the best rugby union teams in the nation.

Scott Fardy, a lock for the Iwate Prefecture club, said that he thought he could be more useful in the town and the decision to stay was not hard for him.

“I came to Japan to work in Japan, so I didn’t think I should leave,” Fardy told The Japan Times by phone on Tuesday. “When times are tough I should stay; when the times are good I should stay, too.”

Fardy said his family back in Australia was worried about him. But in response, he told them he is “100 percent okay.”

“They’ll worry for a while,” he said. “But it’s nothing compared to what a lot of people are going through.”

Yet the wretched sights of the port city that Fardy was finally able to witness with his own eyes were “unexplainable.”

“It was just terrible,” he said. “The earthquake was scary, but up until a couple of days ago, I didn’t know the full extent of the damage. And it’s just heartbreaking to see the town I’ve lived in for two years completely destroyed.

“It’s just horrible. It was such a clean, little nice town. Now it’s just a terrible mess.”

The 198-cm Fardy and his fellow foreign teammates and coaches are devoting their well-trained bodies to the suffering community. He said they have been helping out by unloading food and supplies off trucks.

“We are a club team, a community team, so I think it’s important that the community knows we are there for them in times like this,” the 26-year-old from Sydney said.

But Fardy said that he and his teammates are not the ones that should earn the spotlight, because there are more deserving people out there.

“I just want to make sure that the army (including the Self Defense Forces) and the other people that are up here have done so much compared to us,” said Fardy, who said he will make a short return to Australia in a few weeks. “We’ve only done a small account. Other people have done a lot more than we have.”