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Rugby Helps Rebuild City

Rugby Helps Rebuild City
Kamaishi Link and Rugby Cafe chief director Yuri Endo (left) at the Rugby Cafe in Kamaishi, Japan on February 6, 2018. Photo: Leone Cabenatabua
February 13
11:00 2018

Iwate Prefecture defies all odds to host Flying Fijians against Uruguay in Kamaishi

Hosting the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians pool clash against Uruguay in the 2019 Rugby World Cup is a step towards making Kamaishi a new city after the tsunami disaster.

These were the comments of Kamaishi Link and Rugby Café chief director Yuri Endo.

“The new city after the disaster is to honour those who cannot be here,” she told SUNsports.

“The world cup and the stadium will contribute to the bond of our community. Through the 2019 Rugby World Cup we will express our gratitude for all the disaster support we have received. We will welcome top rugby players and their supporters from all over the world with great hospitality.”

Already two-time Rugby World Cup winning captain Richie McCaw and star first five eight Dan Carter of the New Zealand All Blacks have visited Kamaishi to show their support.

   Fishing boat flags are waved as a show of support for the Kamaishi Seawaves rugby team. The flag symbolises the port town as it is waved from the stands. Photo: Leone Cabenatabuai

Fishing boat flags are waved as a show of support for the Kamaishi Seawaves rugby team. The flag symbolises the port town as it is waved from the stands. Photo: Leone Cabenatabuai


Endo said after World Rugby announced in 2009 that Japan is going to host the 2019 RWC, there was an air of excitement among Japanese rugby fans.

“Nobody in Kamaishi thought that we could ever be a host city of the Rugby World Cup. Kamaishi is too small to hold a mega sports event.”

She said at that time it was only a wish for the Kamaishi citizens.

“The disaster struck in 2011 and it was awful, but we wanted to overcome the deep sorrow. So we started thinking and talking about hosting the Rugby World Cup. We believed that by doing this it would assist in our recovery.”



Endo indicated that she lived in Auckland, New Zealand in 2011 and she often watched rugby games there and knew how great the event is.

“I came back to Kamaishi because my house was also swept away. So soon as I got back I set-up a Rugby Café with some friends in Usonumai in October 2013 to let people know about the Rugby World Cup.

“Also another reason was because Unosumai suffered devastating damage from the tsunami, so people had no place to gather to eat or talk. I wanted to provide a comfortable place for people to get together. This is why we call this place the Rugby Café.”



She said most citizens have backed the campaign while some disagree as they want to focus on the reconstruction and not sports.

“It took time to foster a consensus toward the Rugby World Cup. I organised lots of fund events and gradually this movement spread and many people began to support our campaign not only in the Tohoku region, but also through Japan.”

Endo reiterated that this is a historical moment for Kamaishi and things have started to progress rapidly towards next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“Now we are running this place as an information centre and also a kind of rugby museum with the support of the Kamaishi City Office. Many people visit us and we are carrying out many projects to evoke excitement for the Rugby World Cup. Some of these include English lessons and hospitality information sessions.”



She again has called on Fijian and Uruguay rugby fans all over the world to be at Kamaishi on Wednesday, September 25, next year, to cheer on their teams and enjoy the experience they are going to share with the local people.

“We will give you precious memories and experiences but moreover the tasty coffee and treats at the Rugby Café,” Endo added.





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