Players and fans warned to cover tattoos at Rugby World Cup
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Players and fans warned to cover tattoos at Rugby World Cup

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

Players have been asked by World Rugby to wear rash vests when they use public gyms or swimming pools as tattoos are associated in Japan with Yakuza, the Japanese mafia.

Cover up: Players like Israel Folau will be required to hide their tattoos at next year's World Cup.

Cover up: Players like Israel Folau will be required to hide their tattoos at next year's World Cup.Credit:AAP

They are also to be told that they need to respect local culture by wearing different footwear indoors from outdoors. Alan Gilpin, the tournament director, said teams had shown no objection when told about the need to cover tattoos.

"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.

"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.

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"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.

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"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."

World Rugby, meanwhile, has made contingency planning for disruption to the fixture schedule at the World Cup with a possible extension of the pool stages if the tournament was to be hit by the sort of extreme weather that has afflicted the country in recent weeks.

Typhoons and earthquakes similar to those that have struck of late would almost certainly lead to relocation of teams. Contingencies have been drawn up for the postponement of matches.

"It is a complex piece [of logistics] and this one has a heightened sense of realism to it," said Gilpin.

"With the weather events that have taken place in Osaka, during the equivalent time next year, Italy and the USA would just be arriving in team camps that would no longer be available in those conditions.

"There has also been an earthquake in Sapporo, where matches are being played on the first weekend where teams like Australia and England would have been arriving.

"We are working through all scenarios. Japan, though, does cope very well. Their venues and hotels are built to withstand incredibly adverse conditions."

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The Telegraph, London