KITAKAMI, 16 Sep – Taking selfies for social media, and being the focus of attention for well-wishing locals the length and breadth of Japan, has been a feature for all the teams who have arrived for Rugby World Cup 2019.
As the New Zealand prop Atunaisa Moli demonstrates, above, this is the tournament where everyone wants to be in the picture, and not just the biggest names of the sport.
Uruguay may be among the biggest outsiders in Japan but their captain Juan Manuel Gaminara believes this will be “a Rugby World Cup for social media”, having received a distinctly modern welcome since the team landed on Saturday.
“Ever since our arrival, people everywhere have been asking for selfies and filming us on their phones,” he said. “This is what an event of this size can produce, a common ground for everyone to share in the experience, in our every adventure.
“It is what will make rugby grow across the world.”
The flanker, who will play in his second consecutive World Cup when Uruguay begin their campaign against Fiji on 25 September, is determined to embrace the experience.
“Every Rugby World Cup is different,” said Gaminara. “It may seem obvious, but everything changes.
“To train at such a spectacularly decorated venue with our flag greeting us up on high as we entered the stadium, and to witness how the entire city has prepared to welcome us, makes us feel tremendously special. We are enjoying every second.
“Japanese culture is a world apart and we have only begun to become acquainted now, but it is quite clear how warm it is.
“Our welcome here and what we are still experiencing right now speaks for itself, and we will always cherish it.”