The South African designed and patented half a rugby ball known as the ShadowBall is now a part of rugby training for several pro Japanese teams.
Product inventor and director, Gary Crookes, was recently invited to Tokyo by former Springbok coach Jake White. White is well known as the coach who led the South African team to World Cup glory in 2007 and he is now coaching Japanese Top League side, the Toyota Verblitz.
“Jake invited us over to demonstrate the ball and drills at the Toyota Academy to all the coaches and teams,” says Crookes. “He is a big fan of the ShadowBall and has seen the impact it can have on passing and catching accuracy for players – all his players use the ball for training.”
White completed a successful three-year coaching stint with the French club, Montpellier, in 2017 before taking up this new post in Japan. He has recruited several top South African players such as Gio Aplon, Lionel Cronje and Jason Jenkins to his squad.
Japan’s win against South Africa in the 2015 World Cup made many stand up and take notice and the game’s profile has been steadily growing in the country spurred on by the imminent 2019 Rugby World Cup to be held there.
“Rugby is a big passion in Japan and is rapidly growing,” says Crookes. “We hope that the ShadowBall will help to develop the game further in the country.”