[JIF2016] Bridging the Cultural Gap: Interpreting for the Japan National Rugby Union Team

Hidenori Sato

Relocated to Gold Coast, Australia at the young age of 10 with his sister and mother (1990-1999). After graduating from a local high school, Sato returned to Japan, and worked for an accessory company where he interpreted in business meetings and purchasing negotiations. He started as a rugby interpreter with the WORLD Fighting Bulls, a corporate team, where his mother was a manager/interpreter. In the beginning Sato would fill in for his mother occasionally, but he would go on to bigger things. He has been a full-time rugby interpreter since 2003, working for various teams including the Canon Eagles and the Japan national rugby sevens team, and became the official interpreter for the Japan national rugby union team in April 2015. He currently represents EHB International, a company that provides human resources to rugby teams, while still working as the interpreter for the Japan national team. He also teaches surfing, runs a solar energy business, and translates/interprets in the music industry.

Bridging the Cultural Gap: Interpreting for the Japan National Rugby Union Team

Sports interpreting comes in many forms, and in rugby, the interpreter would serve as a bridge between foreign coaches—who would often come from the Southern Hemisphere—and Japanese coaches in practices, meetings, press conferences, and any other settings where different cultures and languages collide. Knowing the rules of the sports, the framework of the organization you operate in, and the backgrounds of coaches and players is a must. In this session, Sato will talk about his experience as a national team interpreter and what it was like interpreting for Eddie Jones, whose passionate and fiery coaching style brought Japan its shocking victory over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup but occasionally presented seemingly impossible challenges to the interpreter.

・What is sports (rugby) interpreting
・My role within the organization
・Bridging the communication gap
・Building a trusting relationship
・Cultural understanding
・How to deal with information you have
・Taking the blame for the team
・My dilemma as an interpreter

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