Rugby in Japan is growing in popularity every year. The sport has been played here for over 150 years, with the first recorded game taking place in Yokohama in 1866.
The country was gripped by Rugby fever during the 2015 World Cup when Japan put on a heroic display as they beat South Africa 34-32 in an epic game which many have called the biggest upset in Rugby Union History, perhaps in world sport period. The momentum continued into the Rugby World Cup 2019 which Japan hosted to great success, both in terms of logistics and the performance of the national team. The Brave Blossoms won all their group games, including memorable victories against Ireland and Scotland. They became the first non-Tier 1 nation to reach the quarter-finals, losing to eventual winners South Africa.
The national team is currently in the Top 10 in the world, and things are also beginning to take off at club level. Rugby is the fifth most popular team sport in Japan. There are currently over 125,000 registered rugby players in Japan and over 3,000 clubs. One of the key objectives of the Japan Rugby Football Union post RWC2019 is to convert the ‘niwaka fans’ – the newcomers inspired by the excitement of hosting the greatest Rugby spectacle of all time – into hardcore fans of Japan’s Top League.
In 2016 the Sunwolves, Japan’s team in SANZAAR’s Super Rugby competition, made their debut and played until 2020. Mac is an avid supporter and fan club member. Regardless of the result, games have a fun family-friendly atmosphere, and the range of merchandise is quite unbelievable!
If you are a Rugby Fan, catching a match while you are here will bring a different perspective on how the game is run around the world, and give a taste of the evolution of the sport post-RWC2019!
Join us for a game as part of your bespoke, fully customised time with us in the World’s Greatest Metropolis, and beyond. As well as our top-ranked tours, we also offer a wealth of cultural activities for you to enjoy around matches – authentic tea ceremonies, sake tastings, shochu experiences, craft beer tours, food tours, photography tours and lessons… you name it, we have it covered!
If you want to relive the magic of RWC2019, you can do through our Rugby World Cup 2019 playlist on the Maction Planet YouTube channel. Mac, Founder and Lead Guide of Maction Planet, attended 14 matches during the tournament and made vlogs of his experiences. Some of these have received over 100,000 views!