Q&A with Koji Tokumasu, CEO, Rugby World Cup 2019 Japan Office, Japan Rugby Football Union
What is your background and how did you arrive at your current position?
I have been with the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) for many years and have held various positions. Before the Japan Rugby Union I was a journalist and also a high school rugby coach. The team went to Hanazono, the championship final, under my term. Now, to win a Rugby World Cup is truly a lifetime achievement for me, as well as a dream come true.
What kind of history does rugby have in Japan?
The JRFU was established in 1926 as the governing body for all rugby in Japan. It was created to oversee the unification of rules, scheduling of domestic and international matches, and coordination with the 47 prefectural unions.
Please tell us a little about the activities of your organization.
Our teams have been steadily improving and becoming popular on the world stage. The rugby values in this country are tremendous. Since 2007 (after missing out on the Rugby World Cup 2011), we took a strategic approach to preparing ourselves for the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup. We have seen great test matches between the US and Japan, as well as some good rugby with the All Blacks and our Japan XV. This year, since winning the hosting rights for the 2019 RWC, we have brought for the first time to Japan a world class match between two top tier nations, New Zealand and Australia, in the Bledisloe Cup on October 31. This is the same level as watching a rugby world cup semi-final or final match!
What are your goals and plans for the future?
My personal wish is to have fans from all sports try out rugby once and see that our values and sportsmanship are something worth visiting once in a while, if not always. The Rugby World Cup is not simply about competition but also joy. It is more than trophies and results. Our mission is to spreadthe magnificence and happiness of the game far beyond the confines of the pitch and the stands, past national borders to the arena of the world. Rugby belongs to everyone and we are committed to making the Rugby World Cup a universal World Cup.
Japan Rugby Football Union