The organising committee for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan has revealed that the newly-built Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Iwate Prefecture will open on August 19.
A memorial match will be contested by the Kamaishi Seawaves Rugby Football Club and Top League side Yamaha Jubilo. Kamaishi was one of the cities worst hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and the stadium, which will seat up to 16,000 people, has been built to aid its recovery effort.
The stadium will host two matches during next year’s World Cup and the tournament’s ‘Connect, Create, Go Forward’ vision holds particular significance with the Kamaishi region following the 2011 disaster.
Yamaha Jubilo played its first match of the 2011 season in Kamaishi less than three months after the disaster and the return of the team to the new stadium later this year will prove symbolic for the club and the region.
Construction of the stadium began in April 2017. It will be the only purpose-built facility out of the 12 venues that will be used during next year’s World Cup. It will have a permanent capacity of 6,000 spectators, with 10,000 additional temporary seats to be added for the World Cup.
Yoshihiko Sakarauba, general manager of Kamaishi Seawaves RFC and a Japan 2019 official ambassador, said: “We are proud to play the opening match at this great stadium, completed with the support and vision of so many people. It’s an honour to welcome our friends from Yamaha Jubilo who were the first rugby team to come to Kamaishi to support us during the reconstruction effort following the earthquake and tsunami.
“This stadium remembers the past, honours the present and looks forward to the future. The game on 19 August will be a great step forward in the ongoing recovery of Kamaishi and the lead up to our city hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2019.”
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumount added: “The opening of the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium will mark a very special moment on the journey to Rugby World Cup 2019. The stadium stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of the people of Kamaishi and will act as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come, providing an important legacy for the future of this region of Japan that has rugby at its heart.
“The Rugby World Cup will bring four top international teams, thousands of fans and the attention of the world to the region next year and promises to be one of the highlights of the event. World Rugby will continue to work closely with the organising committee and the Iwate Prefecture to ensure that the venue is a success, both for the Rugby World Cup, and for the future of the region.”
Image: World Rugby