Japan – Ricoh Black Rams unveiled their latest acquisition: former Wallabies legend, flyhalf Stephen Larkham. Larkham certainly leaves a hole at the ACT Brumbies he just departed (ACT got slaughtered in their opening round match against Crusaders), and the Wallabies just won’t be the same without him.
Ricoh will definitely be a better team for Larkham, but then they couldn’t be much worse. Years ago, Ricoh were one of the best teams in Japan… but they now find themselves relegated out of the Top League, and into East Japan Top 11. Larkham stated that he had no concerns when he discovered that Ricoh were to be relegated.
“Ricoh is a very proud company with a long tradition in rugby,” Larkham said. “Obviously it is disappointing to be in the second division but my goal is to help the team play good football and get back in the Top League.”
Larkham brings a wealth of experience to the Black Rams, and they get a player who can sometimes do the impossible. Larkham’s drop goal to win the ’99 semi-final against South Africa is the stuff legends are made of. The Australian brings 10 years experience in both the National team and within Super14’s ACT Brumbies equate to Stephen Larkham playing for a very long time at the highest levels in the World.
Originally, Larkham was to sign with Edinburgh, but due to financial issues between the Scottish Rugby Union and the region, the deal evaporated. It is more than a little surprising that he ends up in Japan, especially playing with what amounts to being a second tier side. Still, Larkham asserts that he’s always wanted to finish up his rugby in Japan, and it’s proximity to Australia can only be a positive.
One thing’s for sure, the Black Rams will have at least one player who’s more than competitive on the turf next season.
Welcome to Japan Bernie.