Rugby World Cup England 2015 Gala Reception

Gala Reception at the British Embassy Sends off the Japanese Rugby Team with Great Fanfare

The Ambassador’s Residence at the British Embassy Tokyo was abuzz as attendees gathered for a gala reception to celebrate this year’s upcoming Rugby World Cup (RWC), which kicks off in England on September 18th. The event provided a good networking opportunity among stakeholders.

Representatives from 9 out of the 12 host cities of RWC 2019 gathered from all over Japan, joining the Japan Rugby 2019 Tournament Organisers at the event.

HM British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens made the opening remarks, giving a brief history of the sport.

Tadashi Okamura, President of the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU), made an unexpected but warmly received speech in English. He revealed that the “anticipation is building in Japan” in the lead up to the event, as is the popularity of the sport. In fact, rugby has been reintroduced for the Rio 2016 summer Olympics for the first time since 1924. He is thrilled at the opportunities for collaboration between England and Japan, as host countries, and is certain the Japanese delegation will learn a lot from their participation this year. “Our first match is against Scotland, but we’ll be doing our best to win nonetheless,” he quipped. “If we proceed to the next round we’ll be playing England!”

Special guests Eddie Jones, Head Coach of the Japan National Team, Steve Borthwick, Forward Coach of the Japan National Team, and Leigh Jones, Defence Coach of the Japan National Team revealed they were aiming to reach the quarterfinals and “show the world that Japan is a serious rugby nation.”

After the speeches, attendees could test their skills on a tackling machine provided by J SPORTS Corporation, and write messages of support on a giant rugby ball. The RWC 2019 Ambassador, Tsutomu Matsuda, demonstrated his tackling technique to a rapt audience.

Senior officials including Hakubun Shimomura, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology, Toshiaki Endo, Minister in charge of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Gen Nakatani, Minister of Defence, Akira Shimazu, CEO of Japan Rugby 2019 Tournament Organiser and Yoshiro Mori, Honorary President of the Japan Rugby Football Union attended the event to show how serious Japan already is about rugby, as well as to show their passion for the sport.

The event itself was sponsored by Land Rover, the worldwide partner of Rugby World Cup 2015 and Robert Walters Japan, the official supplier of the Japan National Team.

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Article by Vanessa Holden, September 2015.