Rugby in Japan

Japan host Rugby World Cup 2019

Hosted once every four years, Rugby World Cup is rugby’s centrepiece event. It is the biggest stage that rugby players from all over the world dream of reaching. Held over the course of seven weeks, it is the 3rd largest sports event in the world after the summer Olympics and the Football World Cup.

Ireland’s opening fixture of Rugby World Cup 2019, Japan will be against familiar foes Scotland. Joe Schmidt’s side take on their Six Nations rivals in their opening pool A clash in Yokohama Prefecture on Sunday 22 September 2019. Ireland will then face host nation Japan in Shizuoka Prefecture on Saturday 28 September 2019. The final two teams in pool A are yet to be decided with Ireland to play ‘Europe One’ – likely to be Romania – on Thursday 3 October 2019 in Kobe City. They then round off their pool A fixtures with a clash against the play-off winner – likely to be Samoa – on 12 October 2019 in Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka City.

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before…”
– Dalai Lama

Elsewhere current world champions New Zealand begin the defence of their crown in a heavyweight pool B clash against South Africa in Yokohama Prefecture on Saturday 21 September 2019. There will be huge pressure on Ireland to finish top of pool A, with the runners-up facing the winners of pool B – likely to be New Zealand – in a crunch quarter-final tie in Tokyo on Saturday 19 October 2019. Should Ireland top their pool they will play their quarter-final in Tokyo on 20 October 2019 – with South Africa their likely opponents.

The semi-finals will take place over the weekend of 26/27 October – both at the International Stadium Yokohama – before the tournament’s showpiece at the same ground on 2 November 2019.

Rugby World Cup 2019 will be the ninth Rugby World Cup. It will be held in Japan and is the first time the tournament is to be held in Asia, the first time consecutive tournaments have been staged in the same hemisphere, and also the first time that the event will take place outside the traditional heartland of the sport.

“At least once in a lifetime, go to Japan…”
– Rugby Travel Ireland

Rugby has been played in Japan for over a century with the first recorded game taking place in Yokohama Prefecture 1866. Rugby is the fifth most popular team sport in Japan, with its popularity growing every year. There are currently over 125,000 registered rugby players in Japan and over 3,000 clubs. The Japanese national rugby team is known as the Cherry Blossoms or more recently The Brave Blossoms.

With a population of 127 million people in a country roughly the size of California, Japan is one of the most population-dense countries in the world, particularly when you consider that about 75% of Japan is made up of mountains. 93 percent of the Japanese population lives in cities.

Japan’s most famous win was over South Africa in Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. With the clock nearly 4 minutes in the red and South Africa leading by three, the Japanese had the composure to build phases and create a sparkling move with Goromaru touching down in the corner. This was by far the biggest shock in rugby history with coach Eddie Jones, now England head coach, left uncharacteristically speechless.

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