The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
Rugby World Cup fever is becoming more intense. South Africa’s opening match in the World Cup against New Zealand in Yokohama is just a week away, with the tournament officially kicking off the day before at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo next Friday when the host nation Japan play Russia. Rugby fever has been slow to infect fans in South Africa with Bok Shirt Friday not yet taking off. But it’s not the case in Japan where World Cup excitement has gripped the nation ever since the Boks arrived just under a fortnight ago, with 2 thousand people pitching up just to watch the players training. They are mobbed as they get off the bus at their training facilities and the players appear to be loving and embracing every moment. For the Boks’ warmup game – a solid and systematic demolition of Japan – the players wore their MTN- and FNB-branded jerseys. Now it’s all change, as the traditional advertisers no longer have rights and the World Cup-branded regalia comes out. The squad feels the difference as the branding becomes more prevalent, the World Cup protocols are strictly enforced, and security is tightened. From now on the players and support staff will have their accreditation badges on lanyards around their necks and the branded jerseys will be packed away. It’s World Cup time. Things just got a whole lot more real for the Springboks. – David O’Sullivan
The Springboks woke up in Japan for a 12th morning today, but felt the Rugby World Cup atmosphere for the first time properly, Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby at SA Rugby told the team’s ‘arrival’ press conference in Kagoshima on Friday lunchtime.
“This morning when we got up you could feel the change,” said Erasmus.
“We were on Rugby World Cup buses rather than City of Kagoshima buses, the liaison officers were wearing Rugby World Cup shirts, we had accreditation round our necks to get into the training ground so you could definitely feel a shift in atmosphere.
“I think the whole of Japan woke up this morning to the knowledge that the World Cup was here and I’m sure that all of the other teams will be feeling what we’re feeling.”
The Springboks transfer from their training base in the south east corner of Japan on Saturday to Tokyo where they will be greeted at an official welcome ceremony in Urayusu City.
It will mark the beginning of the next stage – match week against New Zealand – in a carefully mapped campaign by Springbok management.
“We have been together for 11, 12 weeks now, basically away from home most of the time, and we have certainly got closer as a team,” said Erasmus.
“We have achieved a lot of the objectives we set in coming early to Japan.
“The first was to get to know the country and the people and how things operate here and to be comfortable in the country and we’ve achieved that.
“The second one was to get some match time against good opposition, which was Japan, and we achieved that.
“And then obviously the third one was to get the guys used to the climatic conditions, not just the heat, but the humidity, both in match and in training time and we’ve done that.”
The @Springboks received an incredible welcome from the people of Japan on their first day of training. Some of the guys shared their thoughts on how the first session went and their interaction with the fans🏉🇿🇦#StrongerTogether #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/3zwFffEp5K
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) September 1, 2019
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said: “I think it was a great call for us to come early and it has been a great privilege.
“We know how to handle the conditions now and the fact that our training has been very hard means it will stand us in good stead. The benefits will come through later in the games.
“I’ve also enjoyed the City, I visited the volcano and it was pretty amazing to see it erupt while we were there, and the people have been so welcoming in the way they have looked after us; they always want to help; they are very welcoming and always ready to help us.”
Erasmus added: “Something that has stood out for me – and I don’t think I’ve seen this anywhere else – is the people of the host nation wearing the jersey of the visiting team – the Springbok badge.
“I think that’s been amazing to see the Japanese people wearing the Springbok jersey. I think that shows a lot of respect and I think we can learn a lot from that.
“It makes us proud to see that and I think you can be proud of how you have supported the World Cup and adopting teams that are visiting here and making them feel at home.”
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.