Wednesday 21 November 2018

Fans will have to dig deep if they want to cheer on Ireland at Rugby World Cup in Japan

Fumiko Hayashi, the mayor of Yokohama city, picks out France in the draw in Japan yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Fumiko Hayashi, the mayor of Yokohama city, picks out France in the draw in Japan yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Gavin White

Irish rugby fans can expect a special welcome as they were drawn in the same pool as hosts Japan for the Rugby World Cup - but they'd better start saving now as the trip won't come cheap.

The countdown began to the 2019 tournament with confirmation that Ireland will also face Scotland, avoiding major threats such as France and South Africa.

Traditionally the host nation will kick off the tournament which may give Ireland the opportunity to play at the opening of the tournament in the 49,970 capacity Tokyo Stadium.

The final will be held in the Yokohama Stadium, where the Republic of Ireland beat Saudi Arabia 3-0 in the 2002 Fifa World Cup.

The trip will likely cost rugby fans a lot more than the recent trip across the Irish Sea to the World Cup in England in 2015.

A three-week trip to Japan in September this year would cost about €1,700 with flights and three-star accommodation, but prices are likely to rise for the tournament from September 20 to November 2, 2019.

The host cities are Sapporo, Kamaishi, Saitama, Tokyo, Yokohama, Shizuoka, Toyota, Osaka-Higashi, Kobe, Fukuoka, Kumamoto and Oita.

Travel within Japan from city to city may prove expensive as well as a national rail pass for three weeks will cost €463 for adults and €232 for children.

Ticket prices for the last World Cup cost adults between €60 and €208 and knockout fixtures up to €375.

Joe Walsh Tours, which provides travel for Leinster rugby fans for fixtures abroad, confirmed it would provide packages for the World Cup.

And Irish sports fans' "great capacity to travel in numbers" to big events should be enough to see thousands making the trip, according to the IRFU Supporters Club.

A spokesperson for the club said "drawing the host nation certainly brings that added bit of spice".

"If you look at the soccer tournament in 2002 in Japan and South Korea we had great numbers out there, or the big crowd we had in Chicago last year against New Zealand. You would be hopeful we'll bring a good amount.

"We had good numbers in South Africa last year and there would even be a sizeable population of Irish people in the Far East who will hopefully make the shorter trip."

Irish Independent

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