An armchair guide to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan | Barry Glendenning



20.09.2019 09:00

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While this year’s Rugby World Cup is being staged in the Land of the Rising Sun, the time difference between Japan and Europe means rugby devotees from the home nations will be forced out of their beds to watch games long before the sun has even considered beginning its ascent on this side of the world. Depending on your age and lifestyle, 4am is either very late or very early, but those of you who may previously have been unaware that such a hideously ungodly hour actually existed will be relieved to learn that only one of the 48 matches is scheduled to begin at that time. One for the insomniacs and completists, Namibia’s game with Canada in Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium on Sunday 13 October certainly won’t watch itself.

In keeping with an early-morning schedule boasting kick-offs at comparatively civilised hours ranging from 5.15am to 11.30am, ITV has produced an appetite-whetting trailer entitled Rise for the Rugby World Cup. Perhaps mindful that the prospect of crawling out of one’s pit to watch Clive Woodward and Paul O’Connell debate the finer points of set-piece running lines before a pre-dawn Pool C kick-off between Argentina and Tonga might not be enough to get the juices flowing, the anime-inspired promo shows fans from each of the home nations drifting off to sleep, whereupon they are transported into a cartoon dream-world.

In this promo, which draws upon influences including the Manga artists Katsuhiro Otomo and Satoshi Kon, bullet trains morph Transformer-style into fleet-of-foot England wingers, cartoon Irishmen are crash-tackled into skyscrapers and an army of demonic, red-eyed, slavering muscle-bound All Blacks emerge from what appear to be bowels of hell to wreak their own unique brand of havoc. Suitably enthused and jolted back into reality, the fans in question emerge from their hallucinations to find themselves sitting in front of their screens awaiting kick-off.

In the UK, ITV will be their go-to network of choice, their coverage soundtracked by a specially recorded version of World In Union by Emeli Sandé. Committed to showing every game of the tournament from the opener between Japan and Russia in Tokyo to the final in Yokahama 43 days later, the network has spared no expense in assembling a pool of big-name pundits and analysts including Jonny Wilkinson, Sam Warburton, Brian O’Driscoll, Bryan Habana, Gareth Thomas, Maggie Alphonsi, Sean Fitzpatrick and Michael Lynagh. Their coverage will be led by experienced stalwarts Mark Pougatch and Jill Douglas, while “an interactive studio set that allows pundits to demonstrate physical analysis” is one particular gizmo ITV seem particularly excited about rolling out.

While assorted travelling fans are inevitably bound to make a show of themselves, however unwittingly, in front of horrified hosts who will be far too polite to point out that raucous chanting about Sweet Chariots between slurps of Asahi lager through a sock is frowned upon in Japanese society, the folks watching back home need have no concerns about etiquette.

While early-morning sofa-slumming in one’s smalls may well become de rigueur in various households around the UK and Ireland, viewers wishing to fully immerse themselves in the World Cup experience by adopting various Japanese customs are wholeheartedly encouraged to do so.

Be warned, however, this proud nation’s complex manners system can be a minefield. Wearing shoes and walking barefoot indoors is a definite no-no, so the purchase of slippers is advised. You’ll be needing two pairs. One for general house-wear, with a separate pair parked outside the bathroom for half-time ablutions. Of which more anon.

Seasoned drinkers who are unprepared to let the minor detail that matches kick off before noon impinge on their enjoyment of the competition should be advised that in company, it is customary to pour for those in your company, rather than yourself. What’s more, if slowly supping your way into pre-lunchtime oblivion in the company of like-minded individuals, it is considered good manners to regularly check the glasses of your fellow dipsomaniacs and provide refills where required. A word of warning, too, if you’re eating a mid-match snack: don’t – repeat, don’t – point at anyone or anything with your chopsticks.

With all that booze on board, you’ll be needing the toilet. For the full Japanese experience, you may want to replace your own depressingly basic, no-frills khazi with the kind of all-singing, all-dancing state-of-the-art electronic version that can be found in 80% of the country’s homes. Once you’ve figured out the myriad technical complexities of your new CCP-7235-SH: Bidet Shower Toilet made from pan pure white china and complete with electronic bidet seat, warm air dryer with variable temperature settings, posterior cleansing, deodoriser and warm-water setting, you could very well emerge from the bathroom to discover the tournament has ended in your lengthy absence.

In such a scenario, you’ll still be covered. As well as broadcasting every game live and free to air, ITV will provide highlights packages and exclusive interviews on their dedicated Rugby World Cup site, while those encumbered with the kind of grown-up responsibilities that preclude long, lazy mornings in front of the TV can catch up by watching evening highlights shows.

With no excuse not to gorge at the trough of Rugby World Cup excess in the coming weeks, it remains only for us to join our Japanese counterparts in saying “gochisosama deshita”. Thanks for the feast.


guardian sport додав (ла) Cavan Bradford


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