20 Nov. 2020


『 Drinking The Premium Malts while rejoicing together in victory 』

Sean McMahon, a former Australian national team player and last season's co-captain of Sungoliath. We asked the still 26-year-old McMahon about his rugby goals and his way of life. (Interviewed on Late October/2020)

◆Completed 100 km on a road bike

--What were you thinking about and how did you spend your time during the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia?

In Australia, I had more time to spend with my wife and child. Especially I was able to spend a lot of time with my two-and-a-half-year-old son, and I think we had a great relationship. We also found out that our second boy is expected to be born in December. One thing I did in my time off was to complete 100km on my road bike, which took me a couple of months, but I was able to do it. I knew I had a fitness test back in Japan, so I kept training as well.

--How is the infection situation in Australia?

The government responded quickly, and when I came back from Japan to Australia, there was a lockdown, and I couldn't even go to a restaurant for three or four weeks. After about a month or so, in Queensland I was able to go out, but in the beginning, there were strict measures taken.

--So you were able to continue to train well even under the Covid-19 pandemic?

I never had this much time, so I had about three running days and three cycling days a week. I was able to recover well and I had time with my family, so I had a great time to refresh myself mentally.

--You were able to respond positively.

Queensland was relatively quick to deregulate, so I think I had time to move in a more positive way and had a good time as a result. Being able to be with my family was also a big deal.

◆The learning curve for rugby is never ending

--This is your fourth season with Sungoliath, how have the previous three seasons gone?

Looking back, the game we lost to Kobe Steel in the final was quite a tough result, and it was hard to swallow. I think that was true for Suntory, for the players and staff.

I'm enjoying not only rugby, but also life in Japan, and this season we have new players and staff coming in, so we're working hard to win with them.

--Where do you think you have grown the most in the three seasons?

I think I'm growing every season, but I think there is no end to what I'm learning about rugby. It's always the little things, like stretching and learning the language, well, my Japanese isn't great (laughs), but there's always something to learn, so I'm growing with a learning attitude. I think I grow when I go to places where I am not comfortable, so going to Sugadaira or Abashiri, for example, for training camps and training together with others is also an opportunity for me to grow.

--What do you enjoy most about playing rugby at Sungoliath?

It's a place where we share our joy when we are playing and when we win. We enjoy drinking The Premium Malts while celebrating our victories together (laughs). I think everyone works hard every day for the game, and we spend a lot of time on that, so it's most fun to win the game and share the joy with everyone.

◆Camaraderie through rugby

--What is the appeal of rugby again?

From the players' point of view, there is a sense of harmony created through rugby, and through rugby you can build camaraderie with your fellow players, and you can build camaraderie not only with your own team, but also with your opponents, so I think that's the appeal of it.

--How do you feel about Japanese rugby?

I think Japanese rugby is still growing exceptionally fast, even compared to 10 years ago. I think the fact that the level of the game is rising is a sure sign of success in the World Cup, and some of the world's top players want to play in Japan, so I think it's great.

--Are you planning to play and grow in Japan for a while?

I think it's important to achieve the goal in front of me, because I think it's a matter of daily effort. Rather than a goal for the next two or three years, I'd like to focus on winning this season first, so that I can perform properly. I have a contract term, but I'd like to build on it day by day.

--What do you think of the Australian national team?

I'm committed to Sungoliath, partly because I'm focused on the present. I think it would be a great honor to play for Australia, but right now I'm thinking about playing well for Suntory, where I have a contract.

◆I go my own way

--What are the roots of your firm mindset and course of action?

First of all, I'm thinking about acting in a way that I can be proud of my child and my family, both on and off the field. I'm going to have to educate my own son as well, so I'm thinking and acting to be a father that I can be proud of in that sense as well.

The basis of my thinking was naturally influenced by my parents. Then I went to private school first, and I got a lot of positive influences from my education there and also from my rugby coaches. There was a time when I wasn't a perfect person, so if I did something there, I've been trying to learn from that mistake and build on it to get even better.

--What kind of parents were they?

My father wasn't at home much, especially when I was in elementary school and junior high school, my father was abroad for work, so I had a strong mother to guide me through those days. I couldn't do it exactly the same way as I did, but I think my parents gave me the tools to lead.

--Would you raise your sons in the same way your parents raised you?

I will go my own way, but I hope that I can show my own sons that I will go my own way, using the tools I have been given, and then they can use the tools I have given them to go their own way as well.

(Translator: Yuji Yamaguchi/Interview & Structure: Kazuyoshi Hariya / Editing: Yutaro Igarashi)
[Photo: Aki Nagao]