Earthquakes, typhoons and unbelievable rugby
"I am not quite sure where to start as I really have had the most wonderful time and experiences since leaving Durban, South Africa about a week ago. "
For me even the flight to a new country and destination is an experience in itself and too see new places and meet new people is indeed an honour and privilege. Its all been part of my life for a long time but never something like I will ever take for granted.
Japan is an amazing place and I am still trying to find my feet but more importantly trying to get into a sleeping pattern. People often asked if jet lag really affects professional rugby teams and I guess travellers in general -well it certainly does and I am feeling it big time this time round with the 7- hour time difference.
Over the last weekend I also experienced my first and hopefully last typhoon which is a really strong wind that leaves devastation in it`s wake. When we were warned on a number of occasions by authorities and World Rugby not to leave the hotel on Saturday ,I didn’t take too much notice of it and thought to myself as to how bad can it really be. I also thought it would be a great idea to go outside and experience a bit of strong wind and rain. To be the only person in the streets in the centre of Tokyo on a Saturday was unreal and quite spooky, almost like a scene out of a horror movie.
Well needless to say that I was soaked in 2 minutes flat and back in my room in no time. Fortunately for me, we missed the epicentre or eye of the typhoon and on Sunday we had the most beautiful sunny day with millions running and taking kids to the park again. To top the whole extreme weather scenario off we also had an earthquake while in the hotel on Saturday night. I didn’t feel a thing but it was certainly felt by the rest of my team mates and other hotel guests- again I am not quite sure whether to be grateful or not for not having to go through another first , all in one day.
I am off course in Japan for Rugby World Cup 2019 as part of World Rugby Disciplinary panel and we are involved when players are issued with a red card on the field or get cited by the Citing Commissioner for possible foul play after the game. Yes, we are here to watch and to analyse the games in depth but we don’t have to attend all the games and most the reviews are done after the games with the latest technology and a hundred different views and camera angles-quite astonishing.
On Sunday I did attend the must win game for both Scotland and the host nation Japan, at the Yokohama Stadium a short train ride outside of Tokyo and I can honestly say that it was the most amazing and one of the most enjoyable rugby experiences I have ever had the privilege to attend.
Going to any 72 000 seater stadium and feeling the energy and buzz of the crowd is quite something around any rugby stadium in the world but this time it was more than just energy and buzz. It was passion, it was respect for other fans, for the kickers and players on the field, the appreciation of the small things on the field that makes rugby unique, the national anthem and off course the last 30 seconds when the crowd was on its feet counting down the last few seconds together and then the endless cheering and celebration at the final whistle, 28-21 to Japan and their 1st ever qualification for the play-offs in Rugby World Cup history.
I didn’t want to leave the stadium as I just wanted that moment to continue for a while but when we eventually did it was again an experience like no other. I can honestly say that it was the first time ever that stadium staff and volunteers, all perfectly dressed and neat in their Rugby World Cup attire “highfived” me and all the other spectators, saying thank you for watching rugby at their stadium, quite unreal to be honest.
To think that the stadium was only cleared to host the game at 10AM that morning once the weather situation was cleared is indeed amazing and truly remarkable.