Rugby: Players, teams warned to cover tattoos at 2019 World Cup in Japan

  • 20/09/2018

Teams and supporters at next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan have been warned they need to cover tattoos in public to avoid causing offence.

World Rugby has put in the request a year out from the tournament as tattoos are associated in Japan with Yakuza, the Japanese mafia.

There is also an education programme put in place by the organisers, which gives information about appropriate footwear to wear indoors and outdoors.

Head of the Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin said players will be expected to cover up by wearing a vest when swimming in a public pool.

"We will make [Japanese] people aware around the facilities that players will use, that people with tattoos in a Rugby World Cup context are not part of the Yakuza," he said.

"We have done a lot in the last year or so with the teams to get them to understand that. When we raised it with the teams a year or so ago, we were probably expecting a frustrated reaction from them but there hasn't been at all.

"That is a great tribute to the sport itself and to the rugby players themselves. They all also buy into the idea of putting on a rash vest in the pool or in a gym as they want to respect the Japanese culture.

"If they are using a public pool, they will have to cover up. Players will also have to wear different trainers indoors and outdoors. It will all be self-policing.

"We won't force any teams to cover up but they will want to because they want to be seen to be respecting the culture. Whether it is Scotland, Ireland, Wales or Italy, who have all been there recently, they all get it."

The Rugby World Cup begins on September 20 in 2019 with the opening match to be played between the host nation Japan and Russia at Tokyo Stadium.

The All Blacks are in Pool B and will face South Africa, Namibia, Italy and a yet to be determined opponent.