Rugby Fans Wished Japan’s National Squad Good Luck at a Send-Off Event in Tokyo Ahead of the World Cup

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Brave Blossoms attend a Rugby World Cup send-off party in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

Hundreds of rugby fans wished Japan’s national squad good luck at a send-off event in central Tokyo ahead of the World Cup in France, which kicks off on Sept. 8.

The Japan Rugby Football Union announced the names of thirty members of the Brave Blossoms World Cup squad on Tuesday afternoon. Following the announcement, the team’s head coach Jamie Joseph and 29 players attended the send-off party in the Marunouchi district, where about 900 fans gathered to show their support.

Flanker Kazuki Himeno, 29, will captain the squad in France. The goal is to “win” the tournament, said Himeno, who played a crucial role at the 2019 World Cup in Japan when the Brave Blossoms reached the quarterfinals of the competition for the first time. “I will lead the team with my passion and devotion,” he said.

Each country competing at the World Cup in France will be able to name a squad of 33 players. The JRFU announced the names of 15 forwards and 15 backs, including 17 players who have never played at a World Cup. The remaining three spots will be finalized by the registration deadline on Aug 21.

Currently ranked 14th in the world, Japan kicks off its World Cup campaign on Sept. 10 with a match against Chile.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left: Keita Inagaki, Michael Leitch, Kazuki Himeno, Yutaka Nagare, and Atsushi Sakate pose at a shrine in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward., Which Kicks Off on Sept. 8