More than seven million Japanese people have been exposed to the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union and its Game on English programme following a feature in one of Japan's largest newspapers.

The Asahi Shinbun, which has a circulation of 7.96 million for its morning edition and 3.1 million for its evening edition, interviewed chief executive Mike Rogers for an article on the programme, which matches English language providers with sports academies to deliver centrally-organised, bespoke courses for young athletes

Last August the union hosted 11 Japanese high school students and a coach who had been selected from across Japan by the Japanese Rugby Union.

Rogers said he was thrilled with the exposure the article brought for the union as they continue to foster ties with Japan.

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"We are now in our second year of partnership with the Japanese Sports Agency and the Japan Rugby Football Union, and will host female high school players for three weeks in August," Rogers said.

In partnership with Education NZ, the union has current relationships with Sport Nippon University and RKU University and last week hosted a delegation of school principals from Japan.

"We are also looking at opportunities around the Rugby World Cup, which is being held in Japan next year."

The Game on English programme was set up by the New Zealand Government in 2014.

Bay of Connections is the regional growth strategy for the wider Bay of Plenty. One of the focus areas is to grow, support and promote rugby, with a view to driving economic benefits for the wider region.

Bay of Connections portfolio manager Cheryl Lewis said the region had a lot to offer.

"The Bay of Plenty has an excellent climate and facilities that are suitable for delivering excellent training programmes. Given the location, the Bay is also a great place to visit and learn about New Zealand's culture", Lewis said.

"The education providers and sporting expertise based in the Bay provide the framework to deliver a sport and learning package that can help players and staff grow and develop on and off the field."

In 2017, 11,500 players were registered in the Bay of Plenty making it the third biggest provincial union in New Zealand in terms of participation.