Japan’s own Rugby World Cup came to an end on Sunday when they were well beaten by the Springboks but the host nation deserves plaudits not only for their play but their hosting.
The spirit of this Rugby World Cup has been one of off-field camaraderie, passion for the game and respect.
After Japan were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup courtesy of a 26-3 defeat to the Boks in Tokyo, TV cameras captured a touching moment between a Japanese fan and his Springbok counterpart.
The two supporters, who presumably bonded over the nearly two hours sat near each other through another incredible Rugby World Cup game, were seen exchanging jerseys and sharing a filial embrace after the final whistle. The Bok fan just about fitting into his new Japanese friend’s Brave Blossom’s shirt.
In divisive times the Rugby World Cup has been a beautiful oasis of togetherness while on the field it has been one of the most competitive tournaments to date.
Japan’s rise to being a force in world rugby has no doubt helped cultivate the passionate support, and they would keep cheering their team on even when they were all but beaten.
Japanese crowds have shown great respect even adhering to the old tradition of silence for the goalkicker so rarely observed in the modern game. Locals have also adopted other teams and leant their voice in support of all their visitors.
Emotions have run high inside the cauldron but the spirit of Rugby World Cup 2019 is one of togetherness. Japanese fans have taken to the tournament with a unique enthusiasm that has made the event a roaring success.
World Rugby promotes the vision that Rugby welcomes all and that has certainly been the message from hosts Japan, who have been more than accommodating to their guests. From special welcoming ceremonies to learning the national anthems of the visiting teams, Japan have been arguably the best-ever hosts of a Rugby World Cup.
Their team, the Brave Blossoms, now ranked seventh in the world have also brought so much to the tournament.
Their exciting wingers may have been bullied out of the game by the Boks but their sensational tries in the group stage will live long in the memory as will the entire World Cup.