Gion Kenji ( 祇園健次 ) is the protagonist of All Out!! As a first year at Jinkou High School, he decides to join the rugby team after meeting Iwashimizu Sumiaki and Hachiouji Mutsumi. Having been shorter-than-most all his life, he was always left out in sports. By playing rugby, he hopes to prove that he's just as strong as bigger guys.
Gion is a rather short young man compared to other people his age. He has brown eyes and short brown hair that he styles every morning, according to the manga. Despite being small, he has well-defined back muscles from years of dangling from horizontal bars in his attempt to get taller. His school uniform consists of baggy, white shirts topped with black gakuran and black trousers. When on match, he wears JinKou's red rugby jersey with black stripe and white collar, white shorts, and spikes.
Gion has a very short temper when people insult him about his height, especially given he has a tall father and brother. He's always confident and passionate to the point that he often forgets his manners. He is loud and cheeky, which really annoys his seniors. He almost never thinks twice about what he says. He really hates to lose and likes to tackle a lot.
Gion has been short for his entire life, and, as such, has been made a target of bullying and exclusion. He always swore that he would grow to be super tall like his dad and brother, but this growth spurt never occurred. This is the root of his deeply seeded height complex. This only grows stronger as he gets older, and he runs into more and more upsetting problems because of his height: his crushes only see him as a little brother, he still fits in children's clothes, and he has been approached by pedophiles when walking home alone.
Gion is first seen walking to his locker while Iwashimizu is being harassed by some seniors. The seniors then turn their attention to him, laughing at him because he's so short he couldn't reach his locker without tiptoeing. Gion went berserk at their comment and kicks one of the senior on the face. When they try to pick a fight with him again, Iwashimizu picked him up and run away with him, apologizing on the way out.
After the event, they met with Hachiouji who had been looking for Iwashimizu to ask him to join the rugby club. He asked both of them to go watch the club's evening practices, which Gion agreed to. While watching the practice, he asked Iwashimizu things about rugby. Gion then said that rugby sounds fun, even more if he could snatch the ball from people bigger than him. He want to play but with the drill he saw, it'd be hard for short people like him and he'd only be nuisance. Iwashimizu then explained that in rugby, any kind of body type can play the game and there's no ace in rugby. The one that bring the ball is the star. After the practice's over, Hachiouji asked him to try and join the rugby club. Gion said yes, but Iwashimizu decline.
Gion went to the club room the next day, but no one was there except Hachiouji. He demanded Hachiouji to let him play and teach him, but the later said that they were currently recruiting new members so Gion had to wait until tomorrow. Gion, being his impatient self, did not like the answer and just run out of the room shouting. He run to Sekizan before exiting the door. After Sekizan finished talking to Hachiouji, he asked about Gion then commented on his short stature and made him went berserk. Though, before Gion could body slam Sekizan, he sent him flying across the room. Gion said that was hurt, but at the same time very impressed at Sekizan's power and asked if that was one of the rugby movements. Hachiouji then informed Sekizan that Gion's a freshman and want to join the club, also a total newbie to rugby. Hachiouji explained to Gion that the move Sekizan used earlier was called tackle, which Gion took with much interest. He was hyped by the information and demanded Hachiouji to teach him, but then Sekizan pinched his cheeks and told him to mind his manner when talking to seniors. Gion asked about why Iwashimizu did not want to join the rugby club, adding the more polite suffix when Sekizan started making a grabby gesture to pinched his cheeks again. Hachiouji then explained about the accident involving Miyuki at their middle school rugby club.
He went to look for Iwashimizu, which by that time had already joining literature club. He just went in the club room and dragged Iwashimizu out to the field and looked for a tackle bag in the club's shed, not even listening to what Iwashimizu said. Gion then declare that he'd practice tackle and going to take Iwashimizu down. Before the later started complaining, he run and just throw his body at him, imitating Sekizan's move a bit. Iwashimizu avoided him, and Gion did not take that well. He said that he wouldn't try to run so he wouldn't get hurt. He asked Iwashimizu to tackle him and bringing his past, calling whoever his friend he hurt that time was a weak one. Iwashimizu was furious that Gion would badmouth Miyuki, and tackled him. Iwashimizu sent him flying backward, but Gion told him that was fun, despite he himself got hurt for a bit. Gion then demands that Iwashi buy him food to make up for the pain, so they get burgers.
Gion and the rest of first years that applied for the rugby club were introduced to the seniors. For the first training session, Hoakari Umeno divided the first years into two groups. The one that already had experience trained with Sekizan and the newbies went with Hachiouji. When Gion was put in the beginner's group, they were learning about the oblong-shaped rugby ball, when Gion was only dead-set on learning to tackle, Sekizan cooled him down and demanded him to show respect to the seniors again, but noticing his eagerness, Gion was challenged to tackle Sekizan, but was violently fended off by Sekizan. But given he failed, he must complete Sekizan's custom-made training drills, turtle drill throughout the three-hours training session every day to earn five chances to tackle him per day. Turtle drill referred to crawling slowly like a turtle (knees must not touch the ground) repeatedly in a while balancing a rugby ball on his back. However, when he tried to tackle him after the deceptively gruelling turtle drill, he wasn't even able to support his own weight to walk a step towards Sekizan. But as the days wear on, when he finally got to tackling him, he was sent back every time.
When the beginners have actually moved on to tackling practices, Gion finally understood that a good tackle makes different sounds. Iwashimisu noticed him sprawled on the empty field after practice. He told Gion to go easy with his training, but Gion said he did train for rugby and told Iwashimizu about his discovery. But even after he knew about the secret of tackling, he did not think he could bring Sekizan down because of height difference. He then turned his attention to Iwashimizu, told him that he is almost the same height as Sekizan, he could practice his tackling with him.
The next day when Sekizan called for the practice to end, Gion was really pumped to do his shares. He did four of consecutive failed tackle, but Sekizan did noted that his posture got better and he has the determination to win. His fifth try when Sekizan told him to just give up already, he did run and tackle with very low posture, stabbing like an arrow to the captain's ankle. With that last tackle he successfully took Sekizan down.
After that Gion shout that it's hurt, but he's glad he did learned about tackling. Sekizan then checked his back, revealing that he has well-defined back muscles. Gion recalled that those muscles he develop were from years of dangling in horizontal bars in his attempts to get taller.
He thinks Iwashimizu is a coward. He always shouts at him and gives him a nickname "Udo". Despite all of that, they have a fairly good relationship. Gion truly cares about Iwashimizu as shown in the manga in chapter 19, Gion was shown giving Iwashimizu advice on his posture. Gion also seem'd to be worried about Iwashimizu when he got knocked out in one of their matches, by calling him by his first name.
Sekizan is like a big brother figure to him. Gion usually just throws his manner out of the window so Sekizan needs to constantly remind him by pinching his cheeks. Because Gion has no discernable skill other than tackling, Seikizan made him a utility player that can free roam to tackle anyone on sight. When Gion declared himself as a flanker, however, Sekizan becomes doubtful that he'd make a good flanker, it also made him mad because Gion has learned to tackle around the waist, going against Sekizan's advice.
Tackling and defensive mindset
Since being tackled by Sekizan, Gion became dead-set on being a tackling machine, with no regard for ball handling or any other aspects of the game. But as time goes on, his instincts and competitiveness had finally improved, impressing the team captain, Sekizan. When he finally figured out that big men's weak points are from the knees down, he decided to pretend to tackle high, then went low to "surprise tackle" them as a strategy. However, since Gion has no discernible skill other than tackling, he has the tendency to fall for feints and spin moves easily. He finally worked out he can look at their torso and belly button (as they cannot bend and sell fakes), so he can tackle there without risking being kicked in the face.
Sweeping, better known as "cleaning/clearing out poachers (or jackals) at breakdown" (the point after tackle is made, but before and during a ruck is formed), refers to tackling and clearing opponents from getting to the ball after a teammate is tackled to the ground. But by cleaning out a poacher, defensive teams cannot legally jump offside if they decide not to contest the ball.
He can do this so well, it also prevents rucks from forming properly because opponents haven't got close to contesting the ball (outside 2m circle from the ball). He can use this technique to help the team speed up play. Given Gion's low form and tackling ability, his role has become defined.
Gion can relentlessly pursuit the ball, even when he seems to run around aimlessly.
Given Gion's loud mouth, he telegraphs the lineout play a lot from the back of the scrum, acting as a number 8 or the 8th back if it was throwing even further out, but it was a decoy for a short throw to Iwashimizu. He can also be used as a ball-carrying decoy at the back of the maul, so while the attention is on Iwashimizu, Gion actually would have the ball to score a try. On episode 19, This marked his first try.
- He's in class 1-5
- He is one of few main characters that is not in the main team.
- He wears baggy clothes in hope for a growth spurt (ch1).
- Is loud, stupid and cheeky, so he's the type to annoy the 2nd years, but the 3rd years generally think he's cute (ch1)
- He is so short that he can fit in child clothes.
- Turtle drill is used to develop body strength, balance and endurance, and also a straight back needed to make good and safe tackles. It is also the technique applicable to scrummaging, if everybody sets a stable 'table' or 'platform' across all three rows (1-3, 4-5, 6-7 or 8), your scrum will be stable and generates the most power, regardless of overall size of the pack.
- Heel tackling differs from ankle taps. Ankles taps are often used as a last ditch attempt as a trailing defender to get both ankles to collide, thus tripping one up. Heel tackling equates to chop-blocking in American football where you target the knees down and you face the tackler side-on of front-on.
- Miyuki and Gion have exchanged emails. Miyuki often contacts Gion to tell him that there is a rugby game on tv.
- His older brother often didn't want to play with him.
- He's never played any sport before rugby, as he is often left out, but he never likes going home after school, much unlike Sekizan.
- The poachers at the breakdown are mostly front-rowers, or centres.