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Yoshihiro Sakata (1942 - Present)

DIMINUTIVE ‘DEMI’

Kyoto-born Yoshihiro Sakata attended Rakuhoku High School and later Doshika university. Here, he became known for a unique wing-play style of incisive and deceptive running, resulting in a reputation as an instinctive finisher.

Having graduated, he then found work at The Kinki Railway Corporation and joined the Kintetsu liners with whom he won successive domestic championships in 1967 and 1968.

Player stats

Yoshihiro Sakata profile image

position Winger (11)

height 5ft 6"

weight Unknown

debut JAPAN V NEW ZEALAND UNIVERSITIES OSAKA 12TH MAR 1967

appearances 16

Following these titles, he was invited by Japan coach Tetsunosuke Onishi to join the 1968 tour of New Zealand. This was an altogether prosperous trip for Sakata completing the campaign with 12 tries in 10 matches and, furthermore, led to him being voted in the top 5 players of that year.

Now established as a player of considerable promise, the 27 year-old accepted an invitation the following year to return to New Zealand and attempt to break into the renowned Canterbury team. On arrival he introduced himself as ‘Deme’ (meaning ‘eyes wide open’ in his native Japanese) but due to his diminutive stature, his team-mates opted for ‘Demi’ instead – a nickname that stuck!

On the field, his opportunity arose when the regular Canterbury wing suffered an injury. Sakata capitalised on the chance, scoring two second-half tries following the substitution and securing a starting spot in the following week’s match.

His time at Canterbury lasted 6 months (scoring 30 tries in 27 games). Well-liked and respected for his skill, a full cap with the All Blacks may have come knocking but Sakata had declared his loyalty to the ‘Brave Blossoms’. His international career with the ‘Blossoms’ was a successful one with 16 caps to his name and was the first Japanese player to be inducted into the Rugby Board hall of fame.

An image of Yoshihiro Sakata

Sakata was the first Japanese player to be inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame in 2012.

The Sakata

A vintage reproduction of the classic 1968 international Japan rugby shirt

Made from 100% cotton, this Yoshihiro Sakata jersey is a study of the original worn by the legendary Japanese winger.

Its highly woven cloth delivers supreme quality with a contrast twill collar and featuring nape embroidery commemorating the player’s signature characteristics.

Incorporating the Sakura cherry blossom emblem on the chest with unparalleled detail, we deliver an authentic vintage jersey that is tailored for a contemporary audience.

100% British made in our manufacturing facility here in the Midlands, with yarn spun in the same building.

Limited Edition range with only 250 jerseys available!

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£155.00