Tomorrow morning, the first match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup will get underway. Possibly the most hyped tournament for years, it is steadily gearing up to be an absolute classic. But where will the 20 different sides be playing?
HEKKTA takes a closer look at the intriguing and outright bizarre architecture that will be hosting this year’s tournament.
We might as well start with the biggie here, and the Yokohama is certainly that.
With a seating capacity of almost 80,000, you could say it’s Japan’s Twickenham. It will be hosting the biggest games of the tournament, including the final and both of the semis.
Located in Yokohama, near the capital of Tokyo, rugby has been played in the stadium since all the way back in the 1860s, by Yokohama Football Club, so it’s certainly got a strong heritage in the sport.
Whilst it’s modest in design, the sheer size will make it an excellent venue to watch some matches.
A beautiful looking stadium, this 50,000 seater is another big stadium of the tournament. Being in the country’s capital, it’s host to many Pool C and D games, with scorchers such as England v Argentina and Australia v Wales.
It will also host the opening ceremony, so tune in on Friday to see the classic stadium in full song.
When we talk about bizarre architecture, it’s the Toyota Stadium we have in mind! A strange oval shape that’s been squashed in, but squashed for good reason.
The stands are very steep, making each seat feel right up close to the pitch, almost like a bird’s eye view. Able to seat 45,000 people, the roof is another key element, and when shut, it’s a true cacophony of sound.
Tune into the hosts’ key fixture against Samoa to see the stadium in action.
Situated in the jaw-droppingly beautiful hills surrounding Shizuoka’s famous tea plantations, the Shizuoka Stadium is certainly a key visit. Using light materials, the structure blends in nicely to it’s surroundings.
Unfortunately it’s use is limited to the pool stages, so make sure you see it early on!
HANAZONO RUGBY STADIUM
Built in 1929, the Higashiosaka City Hanazono Rugby Stadium is the oldest dedicated rugby stadium in Japan, and with only one covered stand, it looks like it too! Situated in the south of the island, teams and spectators alike will be hoping the weather holds up otherwise they are in for wet viewing!
Now, this has got to be the stadium of the tournament. Not necessarily because of it’s size, but for it’s utter unusuality! Looking like some sort of mantaray, the silver stadium is completely closed, but it’s key feature is a sliding pitch, that is kept outside and is rolled in for fixtures.
Without a doubt this will be one of the placest to go and watch some rugby, the atmosphere bound to be deafening.
Strangely though, despite it’s draw from fans and global recognition architecturally, the Sapporo Dome is only going to host two games!
But, one of those games is England v Tonga this Sunday, so we can see the stadium masterpiece straight away!
More of a cricket oval than a rugby stadium, the Kumamoto Stadium is a large, round venue, similar to that used for Aussie Rules. Set amongst more incredible Japanese scenery, the 30,000 seater will host two pool games.
Like the Japanese version of the o2 Arena, they clearly like building with metal as a material. The shiny roof is punctured by bars going over the top of the stadium, and the intriguing venue has been given the chance to host two of the quarter finals, the winners and runners up from Pools D and C.
So fingers crossed, we’ll see the boys in white playing here in a few weeks time!
KAMAISHI RECOVERY MEMORIAL STADIUM
This purpose built stadium has deep emotional roots. It serves as a memorial to the people of Kamaishi, a town devastated by the 2011 Tsunami. Built on the site of a former elementary school, it remembers the ‘Miracle of Kamaishi’, where all children from the schools on the site managed to survive by finding higher ground.
Only host to two games, this little stadium of 16,000 people stands for a lot more than just rugby.
Built exclusively for rugby in 1991, the stadium is a symbol for rugby’s huge explosion in Japan, and locals have a real affiliation to it. With just one stand covered, it’s not the grandest of the bunch, but it’s significance weighs heavily in tournament.
KOBE MISAKI STADIUM
The Kobe Misaki is situated right in the middle of the cosmopolitan Kobe City, and is constructed in a similar fashion to the Toyota Stadium, with very steep rows of seating for optimum views. Built in 2001, it seats 30,000 spectators, and will be host to many English fans on Thursday 26th, as they arrive to watch their side play USA.
FUKUOKA HAKATANOMORI STADIUM
The final stadium of the twelve is the Fukuoka Stadium. One of the lesser venues, it’s located in the south of Japan, and it’s right next to the airport’s runway so easy travel times for everyone!
The relaxed city Fukuoka will be a brilliant host, with the simple stadium seating 21,000 fans for games such as France v USA and Ireland v Samoa.
With Japan set to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, several new stadiums will be added to the list above, with architecture’s biggest names behind the designs.
Kengo Kuma has been revealed as the architect behind the timber framed National Stadium, built specifically for the Olympics.
Whilst rugby spreads it’s wings to new places, every pundit, fan, player and coach alike are itching for this World Cup to kick off.
An outcome as unpredictable as there has ever been, Japan and it’s 12 stadiums will no doubt be the absolute hosts.