Players should cover up ink at World Cup
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: World Rugby has warned teams and supporters to cover up tattoos in public to avoid causing offence at next year’s World Cup.
According to Stuff 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.
They are also to be told that they need to respect local culture by wearing different footwear indoors from outdoors.
“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,” The tournament director Alan Gilpin told Stuff.
“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,”
The idea of covering up tattoos could be troubling for the likes of All Blacks, especially with several current All Blacks having tattoos; Sonny Bill Williams, TJ Perenara, Codie Taylor and Aaron Smith.
Often tattoos are a cultural badge the players have chosen, whether Maori, Pacific Island or another culture.
However, the All Blacks will respect Japanese culture by covering up tattoos as requested, New Zealand Rugby chief rugby officer Nigel Cass stated.
“When any of our teams tour we endeavour to be respectful of the local customs and culture, and this will be no different when we visit Japan both this year and next year,” Cass said.
Former All Black Elliot Dixon, who plays for Japanese club the Ricoh Black Lambs, told Stuff he had not encountered negative feedback about his Maori ta moko tattoos.
Dixon, who started with the club this season, said the Tokyo public seemed familiar with tattoos from different cultures.
“Tokyo seems to be sweet, there are a lot of different cultures here I think and they can tell pretty quick that we are foreigners – so no bad encounters at all.”
In 2009, Stuff reported that the team was told it was culturally sensitive to cover their arms and torsos during a pool session in Tokyo.
Former All Black Rodney So’oialo said at the time tattoos were frowned upon, because it was only gang members who wore them in Japan.
“I’ll just watch where I tattoo the next one. One thing I’d never tattoo is my face so I’ll be OK there.”
Some onsen, or Japanese public baths, refuse people entry if they have visible tattoos, while others require visitors to cover their ink work with bandages.
In 2013, former All Black Dan Carter cheekily tweeted he never intended getting a tattoo because one day it will be “cool not to have them”. Carter is now playing in Japan for the Kobe Kobelco Steelers.
While in 2016 Springboks and Lions flyhalf Elton Janjtie was also warned not to display tattoos in public on the Lions’ Super Rugby fixture against the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
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