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Rugby Test Match Public Viewing 2018 in TOKYO/Japan vs. Italy

Rugby Public Viewing 2018 in TOKYO Match #1/「Japan vs. Italy」

On June 16th at JR Akihabara Station 3 minutes walk from Electric Town Exit at ‘Belle Salle Akihabara’, the Lipovitan D Challenge Cup 2018 Test Match, Japan vs. Italy, was held. The outcome of these Test Matches is very important for the Rugby World Cup 2019 (RWC2019) which will be held in Kobe.

Outside the venue

Outside the venue

RWC2019 Day Counter (461 days left!) with Tokyo Sports Mascot, Yurito

RWC2019 Day Counter (461 days left!) with Tokyo Sports Mascot, Yurito

Inside the venue is a state of the art Rugby VR Experience Corner where you can feel like you are in a real rugby match, the Italy Experience Corner including sightseeing spots and an introduction of Italy’s rugby team, and the Food and Drink corner including famous food that Italian rugby players also eat! Everyone could enjoy these events to get them excited for the Test Match that was soon to be held.

Rugby VR Experience Corner

Rugby VR Experience Corner

Food Corner

Food Corner

Introduction to Italy

Introduction to Italy

Before the match started, there was a rugby talk show featuring several guests. Former Japan National Rugby player and current sports commentator Kiyoshi Imazumi, current professional rugby player Michael Broadhurst(RICOH BlackRams), Women’s Martial Artist RENA, Comedy duo Alco & Peace, took the stage. They talked about their anticipations for the RWC2019 and the more pressing matter of the match against Italy in the hours to come.

Kiyoshi Imazumi(Center), Michael Broadhurst (Right) talk about the main points for the upcoming match against Italy

Kiyoshi Imazumi(Center), Michael Broadhurst (Right) talk about the main points for the upcoming match against Italy

RENA(Left) , Mr. Hirako from Alco & Peace(Center), Mr. Sakai from Alco & Peace (Right)

RENA (first time watching a rugby match)(Left) , Mr. Hirako from Alco & Peace (played rugby in high school)(Center), Mr. Sakai from Alco & Peace (with no rugby experience)(Right)

With kick off starting at 2 P.M., fans could enjoy a large screen set up for viewing. Gradually fans filed in to where only standing room was left to watch the match. Fans were watching the first half from the edge of their seats, emotions swaying after each and every play. At half time, guests come back to the stage. Guests explained the rules and plays so that all could enjoy the rugby match together.

Watching the match on the big screen

Watching the match on the big screen

With a break in play, Mr. Imazumi explains the rugby rules

With a break in play, Mr. Imazumi explains the rugby rules

As the 2nd half starts, Japan fights hard as Italy is leading. Fans in the venue use simple group cheers to cheer on the players but regrettably Japan loses 22-25 in a very close match. Fans send off the players with a warm round of applause for their efforts.

Excitement is overwhelming as Japan scores

Excitement is overwhelming as Japan scores

After the match, Mr. Sakai from Alco & Peace and RENA talked about their experience watching a full rugby match for the first time. They both exclaimed excitedly how they want to watch a rugby match live! Many viewers from the audience also stated that they are now rugby fans!

Kiyoshi Imazumi commenting about the match that unfolded

Kiyoshi Imazumi commenting about the match that unfolded

Michael Broadhurst sharing his thoughts on the match

Michael Broadhurst sharing his thoughts on the match

RENA excitedly talking about the match

RENA excitedly talking about the match

Alco & Peace talking about their anticipations for the RWC2019

Alco & Peace talking about their anticipations for the RWC2019

The event finished with a Rock, Paper, Scissors match between the guests and the crowd! Winners were awarded signed t-shirts by the guests.

Winners receiving a signed t-shirt

Winners receiving a signed t-shirt

After the match ended, the guests made their closing comments:

●RENA
Being able to enjoy the excitement and fun with everyone for watching my first rugby match was really special. Next time I would like to watch a live match.

●Alco & Peace
(Mr. Hirako)Today I was amazed by the strength and skill of Japan’s rugby players. I’m very excited for the RWC2019 and hope everyone else is as much as me.
(Mr. Sakai)Since this was my first match I wasn’t too sure about what to expect, and even though I didn’t know the rules that well, I was able to enjoy the match with everyone here.

●Michael Broadhurst
After seeing all the fans here today, I have come to think that rugby is growing in popularity in Japan. When I first came to Japan there was not a huge following in Japan but now it seems to be changing! Thank you for inviting me here today.

●Kiyoshi Imazumi
As someone involved in rugby every day, I truly appreciate this opportunity and event. The event today was a great opportunity for people who didn’t know anything about rugby to realize how great of a sport it is. Thanks to events like these, people who enjoy rugby already now have the chance to bring their friends or others who don’t know much about the sport. Fans were able to cheer as one today and as we move forward toward the RWC2019, it would be great to see chances like this not be just ‘events’ but to become the culture in Japan.

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