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The Rugby World Cup in Japan: A Primer
In just under two months, Japan can expect hundreds of thousands of rugby fans to arrive for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Supporters from England and Australia will make up the bulk of visitors, with the rest coming from the US, France, New Zealand, the Netherlands and more than 150 other countries.
While many countries are known rugby-obsessives (see: England, where the sport originated, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand), Japan also has a surprisingly long history with the sport and a robust population of enthusiasts. The first club was established in Yokohama in 1866 and today there are 125,000 Japanese rugby players, the fourth highest in the world.
The CareFinder team is very much looking forward to the World Cup, but we're not exactly rugby buffs. In case you, too, plan to take part in the excitement but aren't a whiz either, we've put together this helpful primer.
As with most sports, rugby has its own unique language. Here are a few of our favorite words! Feel free to deploy one or two of these at the pub to show off your knowledge.
Biff: A fight
Falcon: Getting accidentally hit on the head with the ball
Goose Step: High-stepping to slow down a defender
Highball: Not a drink! A high, short punt behind the defending team.
Mulligrubber: A type of kick that keeps the ball low to the ground and often causes it to bounce.
Rooks: Someone very well-versed in all things rugby
Scrum: A very tightly knit circle of players, all attempting to get possession of the ball
New Zealand is the defending champion of the last two World Cups, having defeated Australia in 2015 and 2011. We can expect that rivalry to be strong this year, as well!
Wales is currently ranked second in the world, followed by Ireland, South Africa and England. Japan's national team is ranked 11th and will play their first match at Tokyo Stadium against Russia (ranked 20th) on 20 September.
The final match is scheduled for 2 November, so there will be plenty of opportunities to catch some of the action.
Rugby in Tokyo
The World Cup matches will take place all over Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu. Some of the most exciting are slated to take place in Tokyo Stadium, including Japan's first go at Russia and the bronze final on 1 November.
If you'll be in Tokyo for the event, there are a few ways to keep the excitement going outside of the stadium.
Fanzones: In Marounuchi, you can join hundreds of other fans to watch matches from all over on the big screen, as well as rugby-themed entertainment, food and drink.
Sports Bars: From Hub to Legends to Hobgoblin, there are several spots around the city that will undoubtedly be humming with rugby activity during the World Cup. See this article from Tokyo Weekender for details.
Hometown Teams: Tokyo has a couple rugby squads: the Tokyo Gaijins and Tokyo Crusaders. Both clubs are made up of a mix of expats and Japanese players and play one another. They take a break during the hottest summer days, but you can expect their schedules to kick off again this fall.
As tons of passionate sports fans from all over the world arrive in Japan, this six-week-long athletic event will be the perfect warm-up for next summer's Olympic Games (see our post on preparing for that here).
If you and your family are making the trip, it is sure to be an exciting event! If you need help with childcare while here, our highly qualified, bi-lingual sitters are great resources to ensure you have the very best experience while visiting Japan. Visitors can save 25% on a 30-day pass with CareFinder with the promo code RWC2019.