Feature of the Month

Tatsuhiko Otao
His Footprints to Leave the Field

Yamaha’s Steadfast No.10
-14 Years of Decision Making-

Second most capped player with 166 Top League match appearances, and 192 official appearances for Yamaha. As Yamaha’s No.10, playing coach Tatsuhiko Otao is always supremely focused on making decisions about the right plays to steer his team to victory. We had the Yamaha legend look back over his 14 year career.

My Decision to Stay with Yamaha

I was in my sixth year in the team, and feeling that I was developing steadily. The news that the team was going to be cut back came as a great shock. Should I stay, or should I go? I’m sure it was the toughest decision of my life. When I asked myself again “Why did you come to Yamaha?” the answer was “So that I can become No.1 in Japan with Yamaha, and to create a team culture of No.1 in Japan at Yamaha.” When I remembered that, I decided to stay on with Yamaha. I’ll never forget that year. What I experienced at that time became my foundation as a playing coach.

My Choice to be the Yamaha Style No.10

When I considered what a team that has just escaped relegation needs, the first thing that came to mind was that we needed the strength of Head Coach Kiyomiya. At the first meeting, it was Coach Kiyomiya who spoke about “victory”, and I felt sure we could indeed be victorious under such a person. At the same time that the team was going through its transformation, my role was to be the Yamaha style No.10, thinking about how to keep the attack plays developing and focusing all my energy and switching my playing style to the advantage of the other players. It took three years for me to master this, and another four years till the team won the League Championship.

My Decision to Retire

Last season, I was thinking that I wanted to be able to pass on about 80% of my work to the younger set in about two years. Well, a lot of things didn’t turn out the way I’d planned, but I have no regrets. I feel that, as long as I’m around, the younger players, who have fewer opportunities to play for the team, will get held back. In my own experience, I felt that every time I got to play was a chance for me to grow. I think it was about the middle of November of 2017 when I started asking myself serious questions. The situation was changing, and I had to decide about the timing of when to leavequit but, in the end, it was fairly easy to make the decision.

My Future, Personal “Decisions”

So, from now, I want my target to be “how many people will say that they were glad to have met me and that their rugby lives were changed by it?”
When I consider why I have stayed in rugby for so long, I think it was because I wanted to get something out of rugby, and that’s why I play rugby. From rugby, I get various kinds of pleasures, and these in turn become the motivation for me to continue. I’m very happy to have had my ownthis kind of rugby life, and I’m very grateful to all the people I ever’ve been involved with so far. It is the end of my time as a player, but from now I want to give back to rugby in a different role.

Tatsuhiko Otao
Born January 31, 1982. Age 36. SO. 181cm, 93kg.
Yamaha Jubilo (2004 to 2017), capped 192 times.
Japan national team capped 7 times.