For two days this week, the Racing Metro 92 coaching staff played host to a coach from Japan. Takanobu Horikawa is the head coach of the Yamaha club, based in Shizuoka, near Mount Fuji. Currently on a study trip in Europe, the former centre three-quarter came to Paris after first visiting the Harlequins in London and the Leicester Tigers.
"I want to learn as much as I can from Racing Metro 92," he explains. "Your coaches Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers were champions of France with Castres, and for us it is a reference. I want to learn everything, about their rugby philosophy, their style of coaching, their strategies and tactics..."
Japan of course will be the host country of the Rugby World Cup in 2019. "We are aware that it's a crucial date but before 2019 Japanese rugby wants to become stronger. We have to learn from the strong countries," he says.
Apart from learning on the purely rugby front, Mr Horikawa also took advantage of his visit to take an in-depth look at the facilities at Racing HQ in Plessis-Robinson. "Our club Yamaha is about to build a new clubhouse and we want to look at what's been done in the best facilities around the world", he explains. Before adding : "I haven't seen many set-ups as good as Racing's. It's fantastic here!"
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