How Michael Leitch became bigger than Japan's sumo stars

Oct 05, 2019
20190928 Michael Ireland 02

There was a recent poll in Japan listing the country's most recognised public figures. Shinzo Abe, the long-serving prime minister, came first. Second was Michael Leitch, with more than 80 per cent of those surveyed recognising the Japan captain.

It is not hard to see why if you spend any time in Japan, where Leitch is the poster boy of this World Cup. Turn on the television, go into a shop, open a newspaper; his face is everywhere. That is remarkable not just because rugby ranks below baseball, sumo wrestling and football in popularity, but also because Leitch has conspicuously mixed ethnicity in a largely monolithic society.

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