Japanese Rugby family backs Wheelchair Rugby
Japanese rugby fans cheered the Japan’s national Wheelchair Rugby team players in a send-off event that took place during the half time of Japan v Samoa match of the IRB Pacific Nations Cup at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday.
The Japanese Wheelchair team won bronze medals beating Sweden at 3rd place playoff at the World Championship in Vancouver, Canada in 2010, and still maintains the status of world’s third ranked country following the top-rank United States and the second place Australia. Japan is one of strong contenders for medals of the London 2012 Paralympic Games that will take place in September.
Exactly same as the relationship between the International Rugby Board (IRB) and the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF), who sealed the partnership agreement in 2010, the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) is a strong supporter of the Japan Wheelchair Rugby Federation. JRFU has supplied team wears with the corporation of Canterbury of New Zealand Japan, the official supplier of the Japan National team, when the Japan Wheelchair Rugby team participates in the world events such as the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The JRFU held this send-off event aiming at getting whole Japanese Rugby Family behind the team before they will fly to Canada next day in order to participate in the Canada Cup, which will be competed by the same eight countries as the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The captain of the Japan Wheelchair Rugby team, Yoshito Sato, declared to fans at the end of event, “We will work as one and aim for the medal at the coming Paralympic Games. We would appreciate all of the support from Rugby Family”.
“The JRFU has supported us in many ways,” says JWRF Team Director Norihito Iwabuchi. “Not only providing us the team wears, JRFU gives us opportunities like this to show media and public what we are doing.”
Iwabuchi claims that its pace is the best characteristic of his team. By focusing on strengthening players’ fitness, the team now is trying to get closer to the world’s top team, the United States.
In the Canada Cup, each team will play 2 games per day, compared to one at the Paralympic Games. The tougher competition will be the perfect occasion for the team to finalize the ideas to prepare for London, Iwabuchi added.
As the 15-a-side Japanese Rugby national team look to the 2019 Rugby World Cup that will be held on their home soil, their wheelchair counterpart is also looking forward to competing in front of home fans at the Paralympic Games in 2020, for which the Metropolitan Tokyo has become one of 4 applicant cities. The host city for the 2020 event will be elected in September 2013.
Wheelchair Rugby, an exciting sport with fast-paced and hard-hitting actions that are exactly same characteristics of Rugby, is one of the hottest sports at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.