TOKYO – Forty years after first meeting on the rugby field, World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont and new Japanese Rugby Football Union President Shigetaka Mori shared a special reunion on Tuesday, just days before Japan hosts the World Cup.
The pair first met when Beaumont captained an England XV tour of Japan in 1979 and came up against a surprisingly dogged opponent in the Brave Blossoms, led by Mori.
Now, the two men are on the same team, hoping that World Rugby’s risk 10 years ago to award the World Cup to Japan, taking the tournament away from the sport’s traditional powerbase for the first time, pays off.
On Tuesday, in a small room away from the hive of activity at Japan 2019 headquarters, Mori showed Beaumont some black and white photographs from the tour, including his favourite -- one that depicted him twisting away from the Englishman's grasp.
“I was the captain and Bill was also the captain and at that time we used rock, paper, scissors instead of a coin flip (to decide who kicked off),” Mori told Reuters whilst shuffling through the old photographs.
“We had the first test in Osaka and then the second in Tokyo.”
England only just edged the first match 21-19, thanks to a last minute converted try.