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We Play In New Stadium

We Play In New Stadium
Iwate Prefecture’s 2019 Rugby World Cup executive, Tomoki Sasaki, shows the plan of the new Kamaishi Unosumai Stadium in Japan on February 6, 2018. Photo: Leone Cabenatabua
February 12
11:00 2018

Tsunami worst hit Iwate Prefecture ready to host Flying Fijians in 2019 Rugby World Cup 

Hosting the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians’ pool clash against Uruguay in the 2019 Rugby World Cup has given a new lease of life to the people of the Iwate Prefecture, in Japan.

After the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in March 11, 2011 where thousands of lives were lost, the prefecture’s industrial city Kamaishi that has rugby at its heart, has been named to host the game.

Works continue on the new Kamaishi Unosumai Stadium, Japan, on February 6, 2018. Photo: Leone Cabenatabua

Works continue on the new Kamaishi Unosumai Stadium, Japan, on February 6, 2018. Photo: Leone Cabenatabua

Speaking to SUNsports, Iwate Precture’s 2019 Rugby World Cup executive Tomoki Sasaki said the construction of the 16,187 seat Kamaishi Unosumai Stadium is set to be completed in July.

“We’re looking forward to hosting Fiji as we all know that Uruguay has just qualified and will be playing them here,” he said.

“Schools here will be soon learning Fijian words of welcome, songs and dances to welcome the team. The same will be for Uruguay.”

The Fijians will play Uruguay on Wednesday, September 25, next year.

The newly-constructed stadium is located on the former site of schools that were destroyed in the tsunami.

Former All Blacks legendary first five-eight Dan Carter has hailed the works done on the new stadium indicating that upon completion it will be one of the world’s best top 10 rugby grounds.

“It’s a stadium backed by mountains, with a river running beside and it also faces the ocean,” Kamaishi Link and Rugby Café director Yurie Endo said.

Kamaishi is the home of the Nippon Steel Kamaishi which won Japan’s National Rugby Championship from 1979-1985. The club folded in 2001 and was replaced by the Kamaishi Seawaves before the tsunami struck.

WAY FORWARD

Tsunami survivor Iwasaki Akiko whose survival ordeal hit headlines across the world said, soon after the disaster the news of Japan hosting the 2019 RWC came about.

“As we went on rebuilding our lives on a day-to-day basis we only talked about hosting one of the games but at that time what was important was rebuilding our lives.

“Then rugby players from around Japan came to the city as volunteers to help clean-up the debris. Then we heard about the Rugby World Cup again,” she said.

“Then all these rugby players got together and made a statement for Kamaishi to host one of the games. This is a way for the people to get out of their depression and our gratitude goes out to those who have made it happen for us.”

Akiko said they were ready to host the Fijian rugby team and their fans and Uruguay as well.

“The travel connectivity for fans will not be a problem as it will be a two-hour travel by bullet train from Tokyo and also by next year there will be other avenues of getting to Kamaishi and to visit other parts of the Iwate Prefecture,” she said.

Feedback:  leonec@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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