Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World

Japanese artist paints Sunwolves as fat rugby-playing penguins

By Calum Henderson
Sunwolves vs car (Yuko Inaba)

Trending on RugbyPass

More News More News

These are the best works of rugby art the world has ever seen.


The HITO-Com Sunwolves had a stopover in Auckland last week on their way to play the Crusaders in Christchurch. Despite the stormy weather, they decided to head out for some sightseeing.

But as their bus cruised along scenic Tamaki Drive, it was forced to make an unscheduled stop – a car had broken down in the middle of the road.

The Sunwolves players disembarked and surrounded the stricken vehicle like a swarm of ants, safely and efficiently shunting it to the side of the road. A video of the team averting a potentially nasty traffic snarl-up was shared on Twitter, and from there quickly went viral, picked up by news outlets around the world.

Now the feel-good moment has been immortalised in a watercolour illustration, depicting the Sunwolves players as a team of fat penguins.


The masterpiece is the work of a Japanese artist called Yuko Inaba. A Google Translation of Inaba’s website, Nadegata Penguin, explains the inspiration behind the extremely niche body of work. “It would be fun if a fat penguin was doing rugby,” the artist writes.

Indeed, this is not the first time a Sunwolves player has been depicted as a fat penguin. In recent weeks Inaba has shared drawings of flyhalf Yuu Tamura and prop Keita Inagaki on Twitter, and there is a drawing of lock Hitoshi Ono holding a bottle of sake on Instagram.


Even some international stars have received the Nadegata Penguin treatment. (“Nadegata means sloping shoulders,” Inaba explains on Instagram.) Scotland’s Six Nations hero Greig Laidlaw“the best scrum half in the world” – is a particular favourite. The All Blacks‘ haka has also inspired an artwork, in which the All Blacks are drawn as rockhopper penguins.

The Sunwolves shared Inaba’s illustration on Twitter this morning. It is now taking on a viral life of its own.

Watch the every match of Super Rugby streaming live on, home of the best online rugby coverage including news, highlights, previews & reviews, live scores, and more!


Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
RUGBYPASS+ Franco Smith: 'I chose to go to hard places but Glasgow is different' Franco Smith: 'I chose to go to hard places but Glasgow is different'