I just got back from the 2011 Rugby World Cup Press Conference in Tokyo. It was pretty much a success. Since basically everyone else who was there was from old media (TV & print) I thought I had better use the Internet and my blogger advantage to tell you good folks what happened at the event at least a day before the antique media gets around to it...
I mean, what's the point in inviting a blogger if they don't blog immediately, right?
The event was held at Tepia Hall 4F. Tepia Hall is next to Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Aoyama in Tokyo. The closet subway station is Gaienmae (exit 3). The event started at 2:30 pm and ended at 3:30 or so.
The guests included the New Zealand Ambassador to Japan, Ian Kennedy; Jason Hill the head of New Zealand Tourism; John Kirwan the most famous Kiwi rugby player in history and head coach of the Japanese national team, the Cherry Blossoms; and the Japan team current representative player, Fumiaki Tanaka.
John Kirwan, head coach of Japan's National Rugby team gets award from children
The event started with a short speech by the ambassador to Japan, Ian Kennedy, followed by another speech and a list of data presented by Jason Hill. (Wow! New Zealand representatives can speak Japanese! The people the USA sends over never can!)
Some of the interesting points about the Rugby World Cup 2011 are:
* It is the world's third largest sporting event (soccer is #1)
* This will be the 7th World Cup
* In 2015 the WC will be held in England; in 2019 in Japan
* There will be 48 matches in 45 days with 20 teams
* Opening match is Sept. 9 at Eden Park featuring New Zealand vs. Tonga
* 1.65 million tickets will be sold
* Plus New Zealand is safe and the most desirable place to visit on earth (I can attest to that!)
After Jason Hill gave his speech, the guest of honor appeared. John Kirwan took the stage to answer questions and give his take on the World Cup.
Since John Kirwan took over as coach of Japan Rugby, the Japanese Rugby team has improved by leaps and bounds. Japan used to be ranked #19 in the world, but with John Kirwan (JK as he is affectionately called) at the helm, they have shot up to #12 in rankings.
JK says that Japan must do well this World Cup in order to qualify for the 2015 World Cup in England and that is the goal for the Japan team and JK's personal goal too.
John Kirwan answering reporter's questions
Well, that and doing well against the All Blacks, New Zealand's team who is hungry for a World Cup victory - and will be extremely tough to beat - especially since they are playing at home.
When I asked JK what his purpose was when the Japan team takes on the All Blacks in their second game at the World Cup, JK said that no matter what, that after the game is over, win or lose, the All Blacks must respect the Japan team...
He also said that if Japan can beat the All Blacks that he would be satisfied and retire right there on the spot. I reckon that would motivate his guys!
Good luck to John Kirwan, the Cherry Blossoms and well done to New Zealand and New Zealand Tourism for a very interesting and well done event!
Go Japan! Go New Zealand!
Keywords: John Kirwan, All Blacks, Mike Rogers, Rugby, 2011, 2011 Rugby World Cup, New Zealand, Fumiaki Tanaka, Cherry Blossoms, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, Marketing Japan