TOKYO, May 18 (Reuters) - Lock Hitoshi Ono, the most capped Japan international of all time with 98 caps, will retire from rugby at the age of 42, his team Toshiba Brave Lupus said on Monday.
Ono, who was part of Eddie Jones’ Japan side that historically beat South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, made his final appearance for the Brave Blossoms against Scotland in June 2016, falling just two caps short of reaching a century.
Toshiba announced his retirement following 19 years with the Top League club, during which he won four titles. He also made 12 appearances in Super Rugby for the Sunwolves.
This year’s season of Top League, Japan’s main domestic competition, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ono, who was nicknamed the ‘Iron Man’, made his debut in 2004 against South Korea before featuring at three World Cups for Japan.
Some of Japan’s 2019 World Cup squad are trying to chase Ono’s record, including Toshiba team mate Michael Leitch who has 68 caps and scrumhalf Fumiaka Tanaka who has 75. (Reporting by Jack Tarrant Editing by Christian Radnedge)