Giraffes, baseball and bronze statues: The rise of Ayumu Goromaru


The metronomic rise in Ayumu Goromaru's star continued on Monday when a statue of the Japan fullback was unveiled in Tokyo as part of their Christmas celebrations. Since Japan were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup on October 11, Goromaru has been a busy man with the country's latest sports star in high demand. Here we have a look at his hectic few weeks since he left England crowned as one of the stars of the World Cup following the key role he played in Japan's three pool stage wins.

October 24: Three days after visiting the Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Tokyo residence, Goromaru was on hand at the baseball to deliver the opening pitch of the first match of the Japan Series Game between Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and Yakult Swallows in Fukuoka.

October 26: Goromaru is at the press conference to kick off Yamaha Jubilo's forays ahead of the 2015-16 Top League season. He stands alongside coach Katsuyuki Kiyomiya and captain Yuhimaru Mimura.

November 1: A zoo in Hamamatsu opts to name their newly-born giraffe after the Japan star.The male giraffe born in September at Hamamatsu Zoological Gardens carries the name 'Goromaru' after visitors chose that over three other sporting stars. Goromaru topped the poll which also featured 'Kei', 'Yuzuru' and 'Kiryu' which seem to refer to tennis player Kei Nishikori, figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and track star Yoshihide Kiryu. Goromaru collected 773 votes out of the 2000 cast.

Giraffe 'Goromaru' was born into a family of some sporting pedigree with his father named after golfer Ryo Ishikawa. A zoo representative said: "We want the animal to grow soundly into a strong adult like Mr. Goromaru."

November 5: Goromaru confirms he will join the Reds after the Top League season plays out and in time for the start of the 2016 Super Rugby season. "From February when I take on the challenge of playing overseas I'll be starting from zero," he said. "I want to show that Japanese players can dream of playing abroad."

November 10: Fans of Goromaru start flocking to a Buddhist statue at Seki Zenkoji temple which is said to have the same hand gesture as the Japan fullback when he prepares to take a kick at the sticks.

November 14: Goromaru's Yamaha Jubilo beat Toyota Motor Verblitz 18-11 in Aichi.

November 21: He plays against Toyota Industries Shuttles and slots 13 points as his side win 43-0.

November 28: Another game and another win for Goromaru. He scores a try, kicks four conversions and two penalties as Yamaha Jubilo ease past the NEC Green Rockets 39-19.

November 29: Goromaru is on hand to deliver a speech at the 60th anniversary of Japan's ruling Liberal Democrats party's founding.

November 30: A busy few weeks is capped off as a statue of Goromaru is unveiled in Tokyo. It is part of an installation called 'Lighting Bench Art' with Goromaru's one of 11 benches complete with statues scattered around the Otemachi, Marunouchi and Yurakucho areas. "They've reproduced my fingers in real detail," he said. "When I first heard about the statue I kind of wished they had statues of the whole Japan team."