With three years to go until Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off in Japan, the milestone has been marked with a nationwide celebration to commemorate the anniversary of one of the nation’s biggest ever sporting achievements.
September 19 marks one year since Japan recorded the biggest upset in rugby history, by defeating South Africa in Brighton at Rugby World Cup 2015, a match that was the catalyst for record broadcast and social media coverage, and the tournament organisers, Japan Rugby 2019 and the Japan Rugby Football Union, have marked the occasion with a special event in Tokyo.
Evoking the passion of 2015, when rugby was the third-most Googled term in Japan, members of the nation’s national rugby team were present to reflect on the game’s biggest upset and look forward to what promises to be a game-changing tournament for rugby participation in Japan and across Asia.
With national broadcasters and print media in attendance, fans also took to social media to share experiences and excitement as Japan ramps up hosting preparations for the sport’s showcase global event. The occasion has also been used for a nationwide push for rugby, sports and event fans to sign-up to the official newsletter, the supporters’ club, to be the first to receive updates and information.
The Tokyo event is an exciting illustration of a sport that has experienced an unprecedented boost in interest and excitement since Rugby World Cup 2015. The cumulative broadcast audience across Japan increased by 59 million from 2011, delivering a record rugby audience of 25 million viewers for the national team’s final match against Samoa, while research indicates that nearly 50% of Japanese Rugby World Cup fans believe the tournament has improved the standard of rugby in the country and 11 million more Japanese say they became interested in the tournament as it took place.
Japan Rugby 2019 Chief Executive Akira Shimazu said: “Rugby World Cup 2019 will be a global tournament, but it will also be a tournament for all of Japan, hosted by 12 cities the length and breadth of the nation. We will welcome hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to Japan, but we are also welcoming all of Japan to be part of this great celebration of rugby and friendship.”
“Today we launch the official supporters’ club today and we would like everyone to join the club so we can deliver the tournament together as a nation.”
Planning and preparation continues apace with three years to go. With tournament dates set, venue and host city preparation accelerating and the pool allocation draw taking place in May 2017, confidence is high of a tournament that will add to the Rugby World Cup success story.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont commented: “Three years to go traditionally and naturally sees a step-up in preparation and through a strong partnership with our colleagues at Japan Rugby 2019, we are well positioned to accelerate into a year that will see the pool draw take place, the match schedule finalised and the ticketing programme launched.
“The Rugby World Cup continues to grow in its ability to reach and excite new audiences and Japan 2019 will be a truly nationwide event that will bring communities and cities together for what will be the biggest event in Japan for a generation and I would encourage everyone in Japan to sign up to the supporters’ club, embrace the hosting opportunity and get involved.”