Why this 46-year-old is risking everything in his mission to Japan

August 20, 2019

Photo courtesy of Jason Bray 

 

This summer, Jason Bray is a man on a mission.

 

The filmmaker is part of a one-man production crew called the Rugby Lovers Guide to Asia (RLGTA) and is one of the most passionate advocates of Asian grassroots rugby. 

 

Documenting events of all codes, genders and scales across the region, Bray receives regular invitations to the Kowloon RugbyFest, the Bangkok 10s and the Singapore All Girls Contact Rugby Tour. 

 

While usually found behind either a camera or a computer immersed in hour-long video editing marathons, the 46-year-old has recently swapped the office chair for a bike saddle in a bid to get fit.  

 

Photo courtesy of Jason Bray 

 

Now an astounding 25 kilograms leaner, Bray's training has graduated from long walks around the apartment block, to now negotiating the bumpy jungle terrain of Malaysia after having purchased a cheap but durable bike.  

 

As a avowed rugby fanatic, he will be part of 400,000 travelling spectators on pilgrimage to the Rugby World Cup in Japan. 

 

Rather than hopping on a direct plane to his destination, months of training have been for a purpose; Bray will instead embark on 3000-kilometre cycling detour from Singapore to Vietnam, passing through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia. 

 

Photo courtesy of Jason Bray 

 

For the Australian, it is set to be a voyage borne as much of charitable intentions as it is infused with profound personal significance. 

 

“This started as a personal journey for me. RLGTA had hit a brick wall with broken/stolen equipment and no means to recover,” said Bray, also a father of three. 

 

“I thought to myself – ‘If this is going down, it’s going down with a big bang.”

 

Among other supplies, Bray is set to bring his penchant for story-telling on the tour by chronicling his travels and will be accompanied by his American counterpart, Gift Egebelu. 

 

But even before his first pedal, Bray's campaign has been beset with difficulties. 

 

Photo credit: DHL

 

Suffering from a lack of funding, only Catalyst Performance Sportswear and a handful of local Asian clubs have leapt to his aid - meaning that when he and Egebelu set out from Singapore, their cash reserves may fizzle out. 

 

And when he heard of Hong Kong-based duo James Owen and Ron Rutland's intentions to pull off a much tougher feat from Twickenham to Tokyo, a sense of doubt began to creep in. 

 

"I met Ron at the Bangkok 10s a couple of years ago and we chatted about his ride through Africa at the 2015 World Cup and I was fascinated. So I announced my ride last year and some weeks later heard about Ron and Jessie's ride from London to Tokyo."

 

Armed with the financial backing of DHL and the support of Pass It Back, World Rugby, the Hong Kong Rugby Union and more, Owen and Rutland have made good progress and recently stopped over in Hong Kong. 

 

Photo courtesy of Jason Bray 

 

"At first I thought I was screwed, but as I thought about it, I realised our ride was more in keeping in with the work I had been doing with the RLGTA here in South East Asia over the last five years, and had a very strong documentary aspect."

 

"After all, at the end of the day that's what I am - story telling, and I want to make a documentary that is a highly entertaining and moving look at grassroots rugby in Asia." he added. 

 

Upon arriving in Japan, Bray plans to cross the finish line in typical Aussie fashion. 

 

"Can't speak on behalf of Gift, but I will be enjoying a few choice cold beverages with some Aussie and Welsh fans in Tokyo.

 

"But I can't get too carried away - I will still have a documentary to edit!"

 

 

 

Readers can either contribute to their campaign by purchasing a Singapore to Tokyo Cycle shirt which can be donated to children in need during their ride, or by making a direct donation. 

 

Find out how you can help them by emailing Jason, or visiting their fundraising page here!

 

 

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