The time has arrived for the Rugby World Cup to begin. All the excitement has been building up to this major sporting event that will be taking place in Japan.
Everything you need to know
This is the first time that the tournament will be held in an Asian country. It will be one of the most exciting Rugby World Cups as there are many legitimate title contenders and even the All Blacks are not going into this year’s tournament as outright favourites.
The opening ceremony for the global showpiece will be taking place at the Tokyo Stadium and to mark the occasion, it is expected that the Japanese air force’s Blue Impulse fighter jets will fly over to celebrate the beginning of the tournament.
To ensure that the Tournament runs smoothly, World Rugby have employed over 13 000 local Japanese volunteers who will be stationed throughout the tournament to help guide an estimated 500 000 rugby fans through train stations and to and from venues. To help with the language barriers, 70 percent of the volunteers employed will be fluent in English
Traditions to look out for
The same whistle is used to start the first match of every Rugby World Cup. This whistle was first used in 1905 and will be the same whistle that referee Nigel Owens will use to start this year’s opening match between Japan and Russia. What makes this even more significant is that this whistle has gone on quite a journey to make it to this year’s tournament. Two friends decided to take the whistle on a journey over 20 000 km from Twickenham to Japan via Bicycle and ferry to raise funds for Child Pass it Back, an organisation that empowers underprivileged children through the game of rugby.
One of the main traditions at Rugby World Cups is the continuous flow and consumption of beer which has become synonymous with rugby matches. With this in mind, there have been some concerns that certain venues will run out of beer whilst the tournament is taking place. To counter this, World Rugby and the organising committee as well as Heineken have committed to ensuring that Japan has prepared for the high volumes of expected consumption. To put it into perspective, 1.9 million litres of beer was consumed at the last Rugby World Cup in England. The local organising committee has advised local businesses and bars that they should stock up with 4 to 5 times the normal volume of beer that they usually provide to ensure that they meet demand.
Interesting facts from past Rugby World Cups
- The legendary Johnny Wilkinson is the highest points scorer in Rugby World Cup history having accumulated 277 points
- Most points scored in one tournament are still held by New Zealander Grant Fox, who scored 126 points in the inaugural World Cup in 1987.
- Most tries at Rugby World Cups is tied between Bryan Habana and Jonah Lomu who have both scored 15 tries in total.
- Bryan Habana, Jonah Lomu and Julian Savea hold the record for the most tries scored at a single Rugby World Cup
- Georgian rugby player, Vasil Lobzhanidze became the youngest rugby player to play and score a try in Rugby World Cup history at the age of 18 years old in a match against Tonga.
- South African flyhalf, Jannie de Beer holds the record for most drop goals in a Rugby World Cup match which was 5 in a quarter final match against England in 1999.
- England is the first hosting nation to be knocked out of the Rugby World Cup in the group stages.
We should be in store for an exciting and jammed packed tournament that will certainly be filled with great victories, shocking upsets and some scintillating clashes like the Springboks opening fixture on Saturday against the All Blacks that will be taking place at Yokohama International Stadium at 11:45 am SA time.