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Why Irish rugby players will have to cover up tattoos at next year’s World Cup

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 20/09/2018 Adam Lacey
a man holding a football ball © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

A number of Irish rugby stars will be asked to cover up their tattoos while around public facilities at the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.

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World Rugby have made the request — and head of the Rugby World Cup, Alan Gilpin, has said = all players at the tournament will be asked to comply.

IRFU media & communications officer David O’Siochain said the Irish squad will adhere to the request, as they did on the summer tour of Japan last year.

a man playing a game of frisbee: Healy kicked off flight © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland Healy kicked off flight  

Tattoos in Japan are seen as symbolic of association with the Yakuza, the Japanese organised crime gang.

Mr Gilpin added: ‘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.

© Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland  

‘We have done a lot in the last year or so with the team 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.

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.’

Sonny Bill Williams that is standing in the rain: Sonny Bill Williams Starting New Zealand © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland Sonny Bill Williams Starting New Zealand  

Players will also be expected to wear different footwear while indoors and outdoors.

Mr Gilpin said: ‘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 Rugby World Cup commences on September 20 next year.

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