Japan launch exciting new Tokyo Sevens
The Japan Rugby Union has officially launched the Tokyo Sevens, round 7 of the HSBC Sevens World Series on 30-31 March, announcing some exciting changes to the event for 2013.
In its second year back on the Series, the Tokyo Sevens will feature the concept of 'Japanesque', JRFU officials announced at the press conference held in Tokyo on 4 March.
“For spectators, Sevens is not just about watching the matches on the pitch, so at the Tokyo Sevens we will provide a great Sevens experience both on and off the pitch throughout the day and night," said Tokyo Sevens Tournament Director, Junichi Inagaki.
For the two-day tournament an area of artificial turf measuring more than 2,000 square metres will be turned into a 'Sevens Garden', allowing fans not in their seats to watch the matches on big screens, and offering refreshment and official merchandise outlets.
Cherry blossom centrepiece
The centrepiece of the 'Sevens Garden' will be a real cherry blossom tree, which is the emblem for Japanese rugby and also for spring time in Japan.
It was also announced that the popular Japanese festival dance YOSAKOI will feature heavily in proceedings. YOSAKOI's origins lie in western Japanese folklore and date back to the 1500s, and around 70 YOSAKOI dancers and 80 cheerleaders will perform at the opening ceremony on the first day of the tournament.
“A Sevens tournament is a great festival and at the Tokyo Sevens we will show a Japanese style of festival to the world,” added Inagaki.
Nineteen of Japan's finest men's Sevens players are currently in camp at the Ajinomoto National Training Centre preparing to compete in both Hong Kong and then a week later in Tokyo on home soil. The team was represented at the press conference by Katsuyuki Sakai.
“It will be a great honour to be selected for Japan Sevens team and to play in front of our home crowd. That’s why all 19 players are working very hard to get a national jersey,” said Sakai, who captained the Japanese to the Asian qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Singapore last November.
The Tokyo Sevens will be played at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on 30-31 March. Australia will start as defending champions, having won the title in 2012.