“Japan vaaary good, and win from Ireland. Bikkuri-shita!” (meaning: I’m so surprised).
My father-in-law is an avid Japanese rugby follower. In the past it was more so as an unabashed All Blacks fan, though I’m now betting the allegiance may have shifted ever so slightly.
My wife and I haven’t spoken to him since Japan performed a number on Scotland to top Pool A and book a quarter-final with South Africa. However I’m pretty sure that if the Chuhai he puts back with a degree of devotion most evenings hadn’t invaded his ability to stay partly alert or even semi-prone at a functional sixty-degree angle, he’d have almost felt like running down the street nude after they vanquished the Scots.
Japan’s famous victories have been a great pick-me-up for a nation in the midst of a terrible aftermath from Typhoon Hagibis. At latest report, sixty-seven souls have now gone, with at least nineteen still unaccounted for. It really was that serious. Although Alan Gilpin, World Rugby’s Chief operating officer, seemed oblivious to typhoons striking the Japanese mainland in the month of October, making the comment when Hagibis was looking like it would be a serious event: ‘It isn’t usual for a large typhoon to strike here in October’. Gilpin must have somehow missed the news reports on October 20, 2017, when ten people perished in a huge typhoon that struck Japan.
Gilpin’s dismissive tones have rankled as much as the lack of proper policing of the offside line has in most games. I just can’t stick his high-handedness. He comes across as completely lacking in compassion. When the moment called for a bit of empathy regarding the high emotion of the many involved whose games were suddenly cancelled (after four years of hard graft), all that Gilpin offered were curt explanations and a final ‘Well, they all signed up to the Terms and Conditions before the tournament began.’
Within that sharp statement, what Gilpin neglected to mention was the reality that had any of the competing nations not signed on the dotted line regarding match cancellation clauses contained within the Participation Agreement, they would not have taken the field for any match at this World Cup. So for Gilpin to claim the high ground was a bit rich and also disingenuous.
Just note I am not arguing that the matches in the path of Hagibis shouldn’t have been cancelled. If that’s your take from what I’ve just said, you’ve missed the point completely and taken a wrong detour.
To live in Japan is akin to the saying ‘A riddle wrapped in a mystery’. It’s great, but obviously difficult for many obvious reasons (luckily I’m definitely not on the tall side, so when I resided there for two years I didn’t suffer too many height-related head knocks from the frequently found and crazily-low doorways). For many Japanese- even though they wouldn’t admit it to your face, unless they were a bit tipsy maybe- a large and raucous group of rotund, beer-swilling foreigner water buffalo is to be a minor threat to their orderly and intricate way of life and society.
Really positively however, the Rugby World Cup is helping some of the locals shake off their traditional reservedness and transform them into carefree, uninhibited party mode. No doubt this mood is being fuelled in part by the brilliant success of their new rugby heroes. Yoku dekimashita/ Well done, Japan. The style in which their national side play the game, alongside the joyful way their fans support them has been easily the best thing going about RWC 2019.