Japan, 20th September – 2nd November
As a country that effortlessly combines its ancient cultural heritage with modern and technological architecture, Japan is gearing up to host not just one, but two, of the biggest and most anticipated sporting events in the world, in short succession.
The Rugby World Cup is the world’s third largest sporting event, behind the Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, and in September 2019, the tournament is making its way to Asia for the very first time. To prepare for the event, Japan is pulling out all the stops as it strives to overwhelm fans with excitement, and establish itself as a key contender within the traditional heartland of sport.
Hosting the event will be a momentous step for Asia, and a huge stride towards growing the sport within the region. With its established popularity marginally westernised, being hosted in Japan will be a real driving force for the sport within the region and will help inaugurate a lasting legacy for Japan to be proud of in future years.
Japan creates local advocates
On September 19th 2015, in the 3rd minute of injury time, Japan defeated South Africa in the Rugby World Cup, rapturing Japan and boosting the profile of the sport within the country. After the victory, Japan celebrated the win and demonstrated its admiration to the fullback and goal kicker, Goromaru as his distinct prayer-style kicking stance became the emblem of Japan. Something that was only heightened by the gold statue the player received as recognition. 2015 saw Rugby soar to new levels within Japan and left the locals in awe. This is the feeling Japan only wants to heighten again in the build up to its hosting of the 2019 tournament.
Determined to encourage locals into advocates of the sport, Japan has rolled out a nationwide ‘Matsuri Celebration’ under the Rugby Matsuri Project 2019. Matsuri (まつり) directly translates to ‘festival’ in Japanese, and the celebration is set to see rugby themed events taking place across the country. Choosing to instil a nationwide festival feeling into the Japanese locals is working as a great medium to get them excited about rugby and the events; which will have to be approved and certified by receiving an official logo/event mark as an official Rugby Matsuri 2019 event. The events themselves are not only intended to get locals impassioned, but will also strongly promote the Japanese culture to the rest of the world.
Japan is likewise pushing the sport towards more niche markets; overly campaigning the sport within the region has attracted more than 200,000 children to play rugby in Japan alone, and the Rugby World Cup Tournament itself is set to introduce young people to the sport in record numbers; with the goal to attract and retain one million new players.
Female fans have also been encouraged towards the sport by being introduced to the Japanese players, being able to ask questions and take photos with.
Companies within Japan are also advocating the Rugby fever, with Tour Companies expecting a record number of first time visitors to Japan. As part of their tour, visitors can call off at the Rugby shrine, that is set within the grounds of the Shimogamo Shrine, a heritage site in Japan. Attendees can get in the spirit of Japan by ringing the rugby ball shaped bell as well as writing prayers on rugby ball shaped tablets to add to the shrine wall, praying for their chosen team in the events.
A swarm of fans
Japan is set to attract the largest number of foreign fans in the tournament’s history; with over 600,000 of the 1.8 million tickets available expected to be held by international fans descending on Japan. This beats the 2015 edition of the tournament that saw 460,000 overseas fans. The 2015 Rugby World Cup has since been regarded as the biggest and best yet of the tournament and it is this record that Japan is determined to beat. English fans alone are expected to make of 23.9% of foreign visitors, followed by Australia that is expected to make up 15.6%.
Demand for tickets to the tournament is exceeding expectations exponentially, with this year’s tournament on track to be the most widely-viewed, most digitally engaged and most socially and economically impactful Rugby event of all time. With a compelling series of November and Six Nation test matches having already taken place, the Rugby World Cup tournament is capturing the hearts and minds of fans alike both within Japan and around the world. This is complementary of World Rugby’s view that the 2019 tournament will be the most competitive to date, especially with several teams in the mix to claim the winning title.
Who’s bringing home the win?
With New Zealand having won both the 2011 and 2015 tournament, they are rightly the favourites to take home the trophy for 2019. The All Blacks are opposed by other top favourites; the Wallabies, the Eagles, the Red and Whites, the Springboks, the Dragons, and of course, the Brave Blossoms.
Joining the teams on the field is ‘SIRIUS’, the seventh generation of the official Rugby World Cup Match Ball, supplied by Gilbert. Taking its moniker from the seventh closest, and brightest star to Earth, the ball symbolises the competing teams from both hemispheres, in which the star itself is clearly visible.
Cellhire is scoring big
Having had a presence in Japan since 2005, Cellhire has strong network partnerships with official tournament supplier, NTT Docomo and local network SoftBank, to offer exclusive rates for attendees of the event.
Promising outstanding coverage across all parts of Japan, specifically in the 12 host venues, Cellhire is expecting to exceed all expectations, most notable for on-ground support and next-day delivery in the nation, which will be covered by the local Japanese office.
As always, Cellhire will be providing high-speed data connections and reliable, low cost calling along with SIMs, smartphones and portable, highly secure WiFi devices. Ensuring the 2019 Rugby World Cup runs as smoothly as possible, the event is a great test-run for both Japan and Cellhire ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.