Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
NZ NZ

Shota Horie: The shy Japanese icon chasing fairytale ending

Shota Horie of Panasonic Wild Knights after the NTT Japan Rugby League One match between Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights and Toyota Verblitz at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium on January 06, 2024 in Kumagaya, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)

Shota Horie won’t need any introduction to the massive crowd at Sunday’s Japan Rugby League One final between Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights and Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 38-year-old hooker, an icon of the Japanese game, is revered everywhere he has been around the world, which is quite an achievement, given he doesn’t speak a lot of English and is a shy man by nature.

That hasn’t mattered as Horie, distinguishable by his trademark dreadlocks, has built up a global network of friends during his club and test wanderings.

Video Spacer

Walk the Talk – Ardie Savea Trailer | RPTV

All Blacks ace Ardie Savea chatted to Jim Hamilton in Japan, reflecting on the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now on RugbyPass TV

WATCH NOW

Video Spacer

Walk the Talk – Ardie Savea Trailer | RPTV

All Blacks ace Ardie Savea chatted to Jim Hamilton in Japan, reflecting on the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now on RugbyPass TV

WATCH NOW

The 76-test veteran was a lamplighter for his countrymen playing overseas during the professional era, enjoying stints with Otago in New Zealand as well as the Melbourne Rebels in Australia and Japan’s own ill-fated Super Rugby team, the Sunwolves.

Then, of course, is his career in Japan, through 14-years with the Brave Blossoms, which saw him attend four Rugby World Cups.

Fixture
Japan Rugby League One
Saitama Wild Knights
20 - 24
Full-time
Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo
All Stats and Data

He has also played over 200 club games, winning six titles with the Wild Knights.

Horie was a key part of the Brave Blossoms teams that shocked South Africa at Brighton in 2015, and then each of the number one-ranked Ireland as well as Scotland, at their home Rugby World Cup four years later.

He won the man-of-the-match award in Japan’s 19-12 win over Ireland, which ultimately led to their first Rugby World Cup quarterfinal.

ADVERTISEMENT

A constant presence for his club, Horie has played alongside some fellow big names of the game: Wallabies David Pocock and Berrick Barnes, All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Sonny Bill Williams, England’s George Krius, Wales’s Hadleigh Parkes, to name just a few.

On Sunday, he will have Springboks Damien de Allende and Lood de Jager, as well as Wallaby winger Marika Koroibete, for company in the final leg of his farewell.

The Wild Knights made the decider on the back of 17 straight league wins.

They also thrashed Super Rugby’s Chiefs in the inaugural Cross Border series.

ADVERTISEMENT

Of those 18 games, the self-proclaimed ‘old man’ of the team has featured 16 times, the figure a testament to his professionalism in how Horie looks after himself off the field, body and mind.

The numbers are also recognition from his coaches and teammates as to how important he is, on the field and around the training base, in one of the most dominant dynasties the game in Japan has ever seen.

As well as their six titles since the game went semi-professional in 2003 with the inauguration of the Top League, the Wild Knights have lost just twice since the game returned from its’ Covid enforced hiatus in 2020, at one point going 47 games without defeat.

But all journeys have an end and for Horie, that moment is just two days away when he will run out onto the National Stadium for the final time.

Appropriately, given his remarkable career, he signs off in the league final, as the Wild Knights chase a record seventh national title against Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo.

Related

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

LIVE

{{item.title}}

Trending on RugbyPass

Comments

0 Comments
Be the first to comment...

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

T
Turlough 7 minutes ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

1 Go to comments
TRENDING
TRENDING 'I thought he was outstanding... exceptional': Warren Gatland singles out Wales star 'I thought he was outstanding... exceptional': Gatland hails star
Search