Shortly after arriving in Japan for Rugby World Cup 2019, the Welsh national team was treated to a rendition of their national anthem by some 15,000 fans at a stadium in Kitakyushu. Schoolchildren in Kashiwa performed the haka for the New Zealand All Blacks at their hotel. In Kagoshima, the South Africa squad, and eventual tournament champion, was presented with black pork, beef, tuna and other gifts. The rugby teams competing in Japan left just as strong of an impression, particularly the Canadian team who helped clean up in Kamaishi in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis. Japan left an indelible image on athletes from all over the world, who shared praise for the host country through social media and serve as great ambassadors for those arriving for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Tom Curry, who at 21 is England’s youngest ever forward to go to a World Cup, used perfect Japanese to express his excitement.

Maro Itoje, one of England’s standout performers during the World Cup, took to Twitter to sing praises for Japan and share photos taken throughout the country.

South African prop Tendai Mtawarira, nicknamed The Beast, was the driving force behind the Springboks’ ferocious scrum that terrorized both England and Japan, injuring Brave Blossoms prop Keita Inagaki in the process. Mtawarira took to Instagram to apologize to Inagaki, and share his soft spot for the host country.

South African hooker Schalk Brits made the internet swoon after cameras caught him personally thanking Japanese volunteers following the Springboks’ pasting of Canada. Yet it was Brits whose heart melted after the team experienced Japanese omotenashi to its fullest upon arrival in Kitakyushu.


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What a welcome in Kitakyushu 🇯🇵

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Leigh Halfpenny, the third highest record points scorer for Wales, also expressed gratitude for the warm welcome the Welsh famously received in Kitakyushu.

While some can argue whether Osaka or Hiroshima serves the best style of okonomiyaki, there is no debating the opinion of intimidating Welsh prop Tomas Francis.

New Zealand prop Joe Moody, who had some harsh words for England ahead of the semi-finals match, had nothing but kind things to say about the host nation.


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arigatou gozaimasu 🇯🇵✌🏽

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All Blacks flanker Ardie Savea, who was nominated for World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year, made sure to visit the famous Shibuya Crossing during his time in Tokyo.

Standing more than 2-meters-tall and weighing in at 120kg, Australia’s giant Izack Rodda stands out on the rugby pitch, and in Japan. The Wallabies bowed out to England in the quarter-finals, ending their World Cup dreams earlier than many predicted.

Ireland’s flanker Josh Van Der Flier finished the team’s disappointing loss to the All Blacks battered and bruised, but his spirits remained high in Japan.

Feature photo by David Ramos – World Rugby via Getty Images