The 2019 Rugby World Cup kicked off in spectacular style Sept. 20 with an opening ceremony that paid homage to traditional Japanese culture and featured All Blacks legend Richie McCaw emerging from a giant model of Mount Fuji with the trophy.
The ceremony at Tokyo Stadium marked the start of the first Rugby World Cup to be held in Asia, and involved hundreds of performers representing aspects of Japanese culture from ancient folklore to kabuki.
Crown Prince Akishino joined World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont in giving opening speeches.
“The message of our opening ceremony is that connections made through sport, through both its simplicity and universal appeal, can help build better understanding and friendship by inspiring people of all nations with the promise of a bright, positive future,” said 2019 Rugby World Cup Organizing Committee CEO Akira Shimazu.
The ceremony was followed by the tournament’s opening game, in which host nation Japan recovered from an early scare to beat rank outsider Russia 30-10.
Russia stunned the Brave Blossoms by scoring the first try of the match in the fifth minute, but Kotaro Matsushima pulled off a hat trick to get the host nation off to a winning start. (The Japan Times)