Tokyo (AsiaNews) – A "rugby fever" has broken out in Japan as a result of the outstanding performance of the national team at the World Cup, which is being played these days in England. The Land of the Rising Sun team bet all predictions by winning three matches in the qualifying round, beating much more famous national teams such as South Africa, Samoa and the United States. Despite failing to qualify for the final round of the competition, the players and coach Eddy Jones (Australian) have won the hearts of the Japanese. 25 million (one-fifth of the population) followed the encounter against Samoa on October 3, a record crowd for a rugby game.
Hero of the World Cup was Ayumu Goromaru, who scored no less than 58 points in four matches. just over a month ago he was a complete stranger: now the Yamaha Motor Co. player has been contacted more televisions, to appear in sports programs but also talk shows. Jin Hasegawa, a spokesman for the club team, said: "the team website is receiving about 3 thousand hits per day, but that reached 20 thousand on the day of victory against South Africa and 30 thousand when we defeated Samoa".
The successes of the national team is pushing more and more children to enroll in rugby. "Up until now - says Hasegawa - were one or two people a week used to ask questions about the courses, but since the start of the World Cup the number has increased 10 times." Yamaha runs a school for children from 5 years.
Shops sticking rubgy merchandise are besieged. "We have earned 30% more than what we expected in T-shirts, flags, balloons," says a trader.
The Japan Rugby Football Union will host the World Cup in 2019, and everyone hopes that the wave of interest in the sport continues until the event. "At the moment there are about 106 thousand rugby players in Japan - says a spokesperson for the association - but we hope that with this fever we can get to 200 thousand. We need to improve the national team. "