Japan – land of the rising rugby sun

Japan’s historic victory against Wales was not only a milestone for the team, but also major step forward in igniting the nation’s passion for rugby.

The 23-8 win over Wales in front of a full house in Tokyo represents a first-ever victory over a senior Rugby-playing nation and perhaps an indication that Japanese Rugby is once again moving the right direction on the world stage.

For the organising body of Rugby World Cup 2019, the result was a timely boost, creating an opportunity to reach out to people outside of Japan’s Rugby community, raise awareness of the sport and its character-building values, and build momentum towards what promises to be an outstanding tournament.

General Manager Koji Tokumasu said: “Our objective for the next six years is to inspire and tell the people of Japan about this great tournament and its significant and unique social and economic benefits.”

“It is a natural fit for us. We have more than 110,000 registered players. In today’s congested entertainment and sports market, we need to reaffirm rugby’s values and sell our vision of a tournament for all of Asia. This is one of the world’s largest sporting events and will be the first major event in our magnificent new national stadium.”

The amount of registered players is amongst the world’s top five and the flag-bearer in Asia. Rugby is also winning over hearts and minds of new fans in Japan. The flagship domestic Top League is attracting some of the game’s biggest names, from Shane Williams, George Gregan and George Smith to Peter Grant, Jaque Fourie, Andries Bekker, Sonny Bill Williams, Ma’a Nonu and Jerome Kaino.

Earleir this year, the Tokyo leg of the record-breaking Sevens World Series attracted a strong attendance, while the men’s and women’s Japan Sevens teams have qualified for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow, underscoring their dominance of the game in Asia.

Japan Rugby Football Union President and former Japan Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori said: “One of the most important aspects of preparation for Rugby World Cup 2019 is to make our national team competitive. This is a step in the right direction, but we need to keep focus on Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying and taking another performance step forward at England 2015 once we get there.”

Saturday’s win was front-page news in Japan – inspiring a process already underway.

For the Blossoms, under coach Eddie Jones, managing expectations will be key, but as they move on to matches against the New Zealand Maori All Blacks and the climax of the IRB Pacific Nations Cup 2013 on home soil, the team acknowledges the role it needs to play to ensure the nation falls in love with Rugby.

Jones, a Rugby World Cup-winner in 2007 with South Africa, said: “While we should not get carried away with the victory, we recognise the role that the achievements of the team have played in putting Rugby back on the map here. We savour this moment, a significant moment for Japanese Rugby, but we have hard work ahead to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 and then nurture and finesse the class of 2019. It will be some journey but we are excited and the win at the weekend was a big step in that journey.”


One Comment

  1. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that
    over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say excellent blog!

Comments are closed.