TODAY |

Kiwi and Japanese tradition take centre stage at Rugby World Cup opening ceremony in Tokyo

Richie McCaw played a major part in Japan’s tradition and colour-filled opening ceremony for the Rugby World Cup last night.

It was a night to showcase Japan’s ancient culture, its move into the modern world and the country's growing love of rugby.

From 15 gods representing the number of positions on a rugby pitch, to over 200 dancers dressed in red and black festive costumes dancing to taiko drums, Tokyo welcomed the rugby world to Asia.

Even Japan’s famous Mt Fuji made an appearance on a projector screen to play a timeline of rugby’s history, from its birthplace in the UK to its modern-day home in Japan.

Dancers perform in the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup. Source: Associated Press

It also projected rugby’s heroes which included ex-All Blacks John Kirwan, Jonah Lomu and Dan Carter, while over 300 children sang rugby’s anthem, The World in Union.

All 20 competing nations were welcomed into Japan’s 12 hosting cities before Mt Fuji collapsed to reveal former All Black captain Richie McCaw holding the Webb Ellis Cup.

Fireworks rocketed into the air as the crowd cheered and McCaw placed the trophy on its plinth.

“Vowing to make this the best Rugby World Cup ever,” Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino and World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont declared the tournament open.

Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw places the Web Ellis Cup on a plinth during the opening ceremony for the Rugby World Cup. Source: Associated Press

An enthusiastic home crowd outfitted in white and red shirts were all in for a night of celebration, even cheering on volunteers as they got the pitch ready for the game between Russia and Japan.

It was then turn for Kiwis Jamie Joseph and Michael Leitch to receive superstar treatment from the proud local crowd, which roared to life when the Kiwi pairs' names were announced.

And the Kiwi coach and captain of the Japanese side didn’t disappoint the hosts with a win over Russia.

You can read the whole match report for the game here.


Dancers dressed in traditional Japanese dress, a kimono, perform ahead of the opening ceremony at the Rugby World Cup. Source: Associated Press