Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup this autumn – the first time the tournament will be organised in Asia and away from the sport’s traditional heartlands. Taking place from 20 September to 2 November, the 2019 edition will be played across 12 venues.
Ever since Japan was confirmed as hosts, in 2009, the tournament’s organising committee, Japan Rugby 2019, has been putting together meticulous plans to host what it describes as “the best Rugby World Cup ever”. While the sports-mad country has plenty of experience of organising major sporting events – it has played host to three Olympic Games and a FIFA World Cup and is set to host the Olympics again in 2020 – the seven-week marathon that is a Rugby World Cup requires some specialist knowledge.
One area in which Japan looked for expertise was the equipment needed to host a successful programme of games. This included providing each of the 12 stadiums – some of which are predominantly football venues – with suitable rugby posts.
Having previously supplied and delivered the rugby posts for the last two World Cups – in New Zealand and England – SAPCA member Harrod Sport was hopeful of again securing the contract to deliver posts for Japan 2019.
In March 2016, Japanese distributor Kofu visited the UK to sign a deal as the first and exclusive Harrod Sport distributor for Japan. Shortly after, the two partners secured the contract to install Harrod Sport’s 17m Millennium Rugby Posts to all the 12 host stadia for the tournament.
To seal the deal, Harrod Sport’s sales manager John Robinson visited Japan to oversee the installation and erection of the first set of posts at The Ecopa Stadium in Fukuroi.
“We have a very proud history of supplying and more importantly, delivering to many major sporting events across the UK and around the world,” Robinson said.
“Overseeing the installation of the first set of rugby posts into the Ecopa Stadium was a special moment, especially when I was invited to kick the first goal through their new posts. It was an invitation I couldn’t refuse despite having a half dozen film crews zooming in on my technique!”
The deal with Japan Rugby 2019 has also led to further opportunities in the country. In 2018, Robinson and Kevin Utton – Harrod Sport’s director of sports sales and marketing – returned to Japan to visit Osaka for a Turf Summit. There, they were asked to present to the Rugby World Cup organising committee and all the grounds managers of the 12 host stadiums.
While visiting, they were also introduced to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic competition managers to discuss Harrod Sport’s future involvement in Japan in 2020.
“We are immensely proud of our fantastic relationship with Kofu, which has grown from strength to strength throughout the past three years,” Robinson added.
“They are honoured to be able to say they will be the exclusive supplier of Rugby Posts to the 2019 World Cup and look forward to an exciting future for Harrod Sport in Japan.”