With teams arriving throughout September, their first official engagement will be Team Welcome Ceremonies held across Japan from 13-19 September. The ceremonies will be an opportunity for the local community, the Japan Rugby Football Union and World Rugby to officially welcome all teams to Japan and to Rugby World Cup 2019.

The ceremonies will take place in iconic locations spread across the length and breadth of Japan, from the northern island of Hokkaido to the tropical island paradise of Okinawa, more than 2,600 kilometres to the south. Locations for the 20 ceremonies include the famous Zōjōji Temple at the foot of Tokyo Tower in central Tokyo, an historical sumo wrestling hall in Osaka and one of the finest examples of European neo-classical architecture from Japan’s Meiji era, the Bunshokan in Yamagata City.

During the ceremony, all 31 playing team members will receive their Rugby World Cup 2019 Cap (a rugby tradition), while the entire team, including coaches and management will receive the Rugby World Cup 2019 Participation Medal.

Designed by Japanese master craftsman and national treasure Minori Yoshita, the medals capture Japan’s seamless blend of respect for tradition, with its deep spirit of innovation. The medal face is adorned with Japan’s beloved sakura, the ubiquitous cherry blossom held so dear by all Japan. The sakura motif frames the unmissable Rugby World Cup 2019 logo symbolising the coming together of Japan as it welcomes the global rugby community, with the Rising Sun and Mount Fuji blended into World Rugby’s iconic logo.

The reverse side features a silhouette of rugby’s greatest prize, the Webb Ellis Cup encapsulated in a circle representing the 20 competing nations at Rugby World Cup 2019.

Born in 1932 and recognised as a national treasure of Japan in 2011, Minori Yoshita is the master of the world famous Nishikiyama Kiln. He is an expert in Yūri-kinsai, a highly specialised gold leaf-application technique used in Japanese pottery and porcelain. The technique is the inspiration behind the prominent sakura motifs adoring the Rugby World Cup 2019 Participation Medals.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Rugby World Cup 2019 will be a truly unique celebration of Japanese culture and tradition and rugby’s character-building values and the teams are at the heart of the story. The official welcome ceremonies symbolise the start of the tournament and will showcase the truly nationwide warmth of the support that the world’s best teams and their fans will receive in Japan.” 

Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee CEO Akira Shimazu added: “In Japan we take the welcome and hospitality we afford to our guests very seriously. The word ‘ometenashi’ describes the spirit of hospitality in which all visitors are offered the very best welcome possible. We look forward to welcoming all 20 teams and presenting them with a Rugby World Cup medal symbolising both our gratitude and welcome. These medals capture the most iconic symbols of Japan – our beloved cherry blossoms and the rising sun atop of Mount Fuji, combining them with the unmistakable image of the Webb Ellis Cup. They signify the bonds of friendship and respect that bind the world of rugby as Japan proudly hosts Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.”

Team Welcome Ceremonies
Fiji: Friday, 13 September, Abashiri City, Hokkaido
Ireland: Friday, 13 September,  Chiba City, Chiba Pref.
Argentina: Friday, 13 September,  Fukushima City, Fukushima Pref.
Japan: Friday, 13 September, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
New Zealand: Saturday, 14 September, Minato Ward, Tokyo
South Africa: Saturday, 14 September, Urayasu City, Chiba Pref.
Namibia: Saturday, 14 September, Kamitonda Town, Wakayama Pref.
Russia: Saturday, 14 September, Saitama City, Saitama Pref.
France: Sunday, 15 September. Fujiyoshida City, Yamanashi Pref.
Scotland: Sunday, 15 September, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Pref.
Italy: Sunday, 15 September, Sakai City, Osaka Pref.
Samoa: Monday, 16 September, Yamagata City, Yamagata Pref.
England: Monday, 16 September, Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Pref.
Wales: Monday, 16 September, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Pref.
Canada: Wednesday, 18 September, Nagato City, Yamaguchi Pref.
USA: Wednesday, 18 September, Yomitan Village, Okinawa Pref.
Australia: Wednesday, 18 September, Ebetsu City, Hokkaido Pref.
Georgia: Wednesday, 18 September, Nagoya City, Aichi Pref.
Tonga: Thursday, 19 September, Sapporo City, Hokkaido Pref.
Uruguay: Thursday, 19 September, Kitakami City, Iwate Pref.

A limited number of Rugby World Cup 2019 tickets are currently available at www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets. Another option for fans looking to secure specific match tickets is through the Rugby World Cup 2019 Official Supporter Tour and Hospitality programmes.

Ticket-inclusive travel packages provided through RWC 2019 official travel agents are proving extremely popular, with tickets for some of the most popular matches still available. The prestigious Webb Ellis Suite and private hospitality suites are already sold out, however some great matchday hospitality options are still available. Further details can be found via www.rugbyworldcup.com/supportertours and www.rugbyworldcup.com/hospitality.

When purchasing tickets, fans will be able to opt-in and donate to the ChildFund Pass It Back programme. In partnership with World Rugby’s Impact Beyond programme, Pass It Back inspires positive social change through the delivery of an integrated life-skills and non-contact tag rugby curriculum, educating children and young people in areas of leadership, problem-solving, gender equality, conflict resolution and life preparation. For more details visit www.childfundpassitback.org.

With such exceptional demand for tickets, fans are being urged to buy exclusively from official channels to avoid being let down. For more details visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/buy-official.

Mastercard is an official partner and the preferred payment card of Rugby World Cup 2019 and will be offering fans a range of Priceless experiences around RWC 2019.