Well done, Japan: Asia successfully hosts its first Rugby World Cup

For traditional rugby-loving fans, holding a World Cup in Asia may have seemed out of left field - a PR stunt by World Rugby to export the sport.

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The Brave Blossoms have taken the 2019 World Cup by storm. Source: 1 NEWS

Upon reflection, after South Africa's Siya Kolisi lifted the Webb Ellis Cup at the weekend, it must be handed to Japan that they knocked this World Cup out of the park.

From glittering metropolitan cities to Tokyo and Osaka to less familiar regions of Sapporo and Oita, Japan put on a spectacular show.

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Japan’s influence at RWC 2019 will reach far beyond the tournament’s end. Source: 1 NEWS

Crowds put on boisterous welcoming ceremonies for the incoming teams, learned the national anthems of the playing countries and, although they might not have known the rules of the game, locals from host cities put out the welcome mat to each team.

A 10,000-strong volunteer army made sure fans travelling from all over the world had a good time showing how polite and accommodating the Japanese were in this tournament.

Heavy promotion draws in the fans

For such a large nation that doesn’t hold rugby as one of its major sports, the effort put into promoting it has been first class.

With locals turning out in droves to watch the games in the stands, and a record television audience watching their national side play, rugby has been fully embraced by Japan.

The Brave Blossoms' incredible winning streak, which saw them rocket to number six in the world, played a large part in that, as well as the advertising plastered on every train, bus and taxi.

The national side will go down as the highlight of the tournament, but for business it’s also been a massive success with memorabilia like the Japanese team jersey, which nearly sold out.

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The Brave Blossoms made history at the World Cup, before being eliminated last night. Source: 1 NEWS

Bars and restaurants also had a major boost, with businesses booked a week out from Japan matches.

Despite the early exit by the tournament favourites, the fame of the All Blacks team and the impressive PR work has seen them capture the attention of Japanese fans. 

Giving rugby fans a chance to celebrate

Outside of Japan’s major cities rugby was a massive hit, where it wasn’t an unusual sight to see people on public transport watching rugby highlights.

For most fans of the sport here and clubs that play the sport, the World Cup was an opportunity to have their passion in the limelight and see their favourite teams play at home.

It was also an opportunity for fans from overseas to see an Asian team as a competitive unit, and highlight the sport's global potential. 

When the argument continues around tier one and tier two teams and who gets more opportunity than who, Asia, and specifically Japan, showed the rugby world that it’s possible to change the sport and widen its scope.

In its short 32-year history, the Rugby World Cup has come a long way from its beginnings in New Zealand and now in Asia.

The people of Japan have fully embraced the rugby spirit and contributed to the tournament's brilliant atmosphere.

With over 1.8 million tickets sold over six weeks and nearly 900,000 people attending the fanzones, Japan can pat themselves on the back for a well-done tournament.

1 NEWS Now's Natalia Sutherland has spent the last eight weeks in Japan, covering the Rugby World Cup.