Rugby

Brave Blossoms formally welcomed to Rugby World Cup

Kyodo

Japan was officially welcomed to the Rugby World Cup at a ceremony at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office on Friday that saw all 31 playing team members presented with their Rugby World Cup 2019 cap, and the entire team, including coaches and management, receive a participation medal.

“The waiting is over for what promises to be an outstanding event,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

“You will play in front of a stadium of 127 million people,” he told the Japan players. “I am certain you will relish the opportunity of representing your country in front of your home crowd” in what he said will be one of the greatest tournaments in history.

Japan Rugby Football Union president Shigetaka Mori, who played for Japan against an England side captained by Beaumont 40 years ago, told the assembled guests the country was praying for the success of the team, adding the Brave Blossoms were “fully prepared” for their opening game against Russia on Sept. 20 at Tokyo Stadium (Ajinomoto Stadium).

“It’s been 10 years since it was decided that Japan would host the World Cup and I cannot wait for next week,” said captain Michael Leitch.

“Everyone has worked so hard and we have the support of everyone so the only remaining thing is to deliver the result.”

A day earlier, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Beaumont and told the former England lock: “I am excited about Rugby World Cup and welcoming the world’s best teams and people from all over the world.

“The iconic Webb Ellis Cup is a symbol of strength, hard work and courage and I appreciate the hard work of many people who have made this possible. I am sure that we can work together to make a very special occasion, the best tournament.”

Beaumont responded by telling the prime minister, “The welcome the teams have received so far across the country has been phenomenal — they are telling us that they have never seen anything like it. From the host cities, volunteers and public, everyone is keen and showing their full support, which is fantastic.”

“We want you to take full advantage of this incredible opportunity to host one of the world’s biggest and best-loved major sports events. From record nationwide economic impact to a global tourism, trade and event host shop window, this is Japan’s moment to shine on the world stage.”

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