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Rugby players will be asked to cover up all their tattoos at next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan to avoid offending the local people.
In Japan, tattoos have long been associated with the notorious yakuza crime syndicates. The ban is so strict that players are even being asked to wear vests when using gyms or pools throughout their stay.
A number of Ireland players – including Cian Healy and Andrew Porter sport tattoos on their arms and other parts of their body, while tattoos are hugely commonplace for players of Pacific Island descent, due to their heritage. But tournament director Alan Gilpin said there had been no objections from teams.
“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,” he said.
“We have done a lot in the last year or so with the teams to get them to understand that.
“The idea of putting a rash-vest [shirt used for watersports] on in the pool or in a gym, they will buy into as they want to respect the Japanese culture. We’ll position it as self-policing.”
The All Blacks have already come out and said they will be strictly abiding by the rules, despite players such as Sonny Bill Williams and TJ Perenara sporting a lot of body art.
“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,” New Zealand Rugby chief rugby officer Nigel Cass told Stuff.