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World Rugby urges players to cover tattoos at Japan 2019 to 'respect the culture' and avoid offence

World Rugby organisers have advised players competing at the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup, as well as supporters, to cover up any tattoos in public to avoid causing offence, with markings easily mistaken to be associated with Yakuza, a Japanese mafia.

There is also an education programme put in place by the organisers, which gives information about appropriate footwear to wear indoor and outdoors.

Head of the Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin says the Japanese people will be aware that there will be players not accustomed to Japan's culture.

"We will make (Japanese) people aware around the facilities that players will use in the country that people with tattoos in a Rugby World Cup context are not part of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia," said Gilpin.

"That's where the issue comes from. We have done a lot in the last year or so with the teams to get them to understand that.

"When we raised it with the teams a year or so ago we were probably expecting a frustrated reaction from them but there hasn't been at all. That is a great tribute to the sport itself and to the rugby players themselves."

Gilpin also said players with tattoos are expected to cover up by wearing a vest when swimming in a public pool.

"They all also buy into the idea of putting on a rash-vest in the pool or in a gym as they want to respect the Japanese culture. If they are using a public pool they will have to cover up.

"Players will also have to wear different trainers indoors and outdoors. It will all be self-policing. We won't force any teams to cover up but they will want to because they want to be seen to be respecting the culture.

"Whether it is Scotland, Ireland, Wales or Italy, who have all been there recently, they all get it, they really do."

Beauden Barrett celebrates his try with Aaron Smith.
2nd Bledisloe Cup Test of the 2018 Investec Rugby Championship.
New Zealand All Blacks v Australia (Wallabies) at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on 25 August 2018.
Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Beauden Barrett celebrates with Aaron Smith. Source: Photosport

The Rugby World Cup begins on September 20 in 2019 with the opening match to be played between the host nation Japan and Russia at Tokyo Stadium.

Dejected All Blacks Rieko Ioane and TJ Perenara seen after their team's loss during the 2018 Rugby Championship between All Blacks vs South Africa at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, Saturday 15th September 2018. Copyright Photo: Raghavan Venugopal / © www.Photosport.nz 2018
Dejected All Blacks Rieko Ioane and TJ Perenara seen after their team's loss during the 2018 Rugby Championship between All Blacks vs South Africa at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Source: Photosport