Rugby: Kiwi family back Japan's star No 10

By Nikki Preston

New Zealander James Arlidge began playing rugby in Japan in 2004. Photo / Janna Dixon
New Zealander James Arlidge began playing rugby in Japan in 2004. Photo / Janna Dixon

Tauranga's Tony Arlidge is gearing up for another 80-minute emotional rollercoaster on Friday when his son James steps on to the field in red.

Japan may have lost against France, but the Hamilton-born, Auckland-raised rugby player left a lasting impression on viewers and was undoubtedly Japan's man of the match.

The 32-year-old had a few hours off yesterday catching up with his dad, wife Anna and young son Niko in Auckland before heading back to the team preparing for their next challenge against the All Blacks at Waikato Stadium on Friday night.

Tony Arlidge watched the game with James' mother Sue, brother, wife, half-sisters and parents-in-law and said it was very emotional for him.

"Last night was just unbelievable electric really. A really emotional time for the family being there to watch him play. We were beside ourselves."

He said the former Blues player was thrilled with the team's performance and couldn't wait for the next game.

"It's an absolute thrill because he will be matching himself with first five-eighth in Dan Carter and like all of the Japanese boys he's absolutely focused and looking forward to the game."

James, a former Dilworth School and Auckland University student, also has something to prove after missing out on playing for the All Blacks to Aaron Mauger for the Grand Slam tour. He started playing for Japan in 2004 and speaks fluent Japanese.

"The texts my daughter Chelsea got said, 'Why isn't he playing in the All Blacks', which is lovely isn't it."

Tony Arlidge has two days off for each of Japan's four pools game and, despite usually being an All Blacks supporter, said he would be back flying the Japanese flag on Friday.

"It will be exactly the same - we will be dressed up and painted up. I've got James' World Cup jacket from 2007 so I will be wearing that. We had our faces painted yesterday, as you do. I think the feeling in the Japanese camp is confidence really."

James' stepmother, Shelley Arlidge, was watching the game from their Tauranga home and said she felt like she had played an entire rugby match.

"We actually felt like we had played a game of rugby ourselves. We were just getting so many phone calls and so many texts, it was amazing. it will be very exciting. The girls [James' sisters] are just beside themselves - we all are. It's very emotional. Very emotional."

In 2008 James began playing for Newport Gwent Dragon in Wales and joined Nottingham Rugby in 2010.

The competent kicker collected all Japan's 21 points including two tries.

- NZ Herald

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 26 Jul 2014 18:13:48 Processing Time: 428ms