Pacific Island Rugby, Rugby, Rugby History, Rugby World Cup, Travel, Uncategorized

Where did the Islanders go?

Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa have historically been known for their brute like physicality and their dazzling skills. Players from the Pacific Islands have become high valued commodities in some of the most renowned rugby clubs in the world. This might be the reason that these nations are struggling to pull things together though. On 7 September 2019 the All Blacks demolished Tonga 92-7, which left the rugby world frustrated. Tonga which has such a wealth of talent just haven’t been able to pull it together. However, you look at it though should we sit here and blame Tonga or should we look at the current world rugby season set up and structure which has given Tonga very little time to prepare for their Rugby World Cup campaign.

This documentary gives a small insight into the reasons that Pacific Island Rugby struggles with players being all over the world.
Video published by Pacific Rugby Players Welfare on YouTube

World Rugby Season?

What is a global rugby season? This is the idea that all teams in the world will play on the same schedule, which will allow all teams the same amount of preparation time. This does not happen however due to a split between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, who play on different schedules. All Blacks stalwart coach Steven Hansen said in the Tonga vs NZL post match press conference, “The problem that we’ve got is a calendar that doesn’t allow you to do that,” referring to the situation. Hansen offered a solution to the problem saying, “We have these wonderful ideas about growing the game but we don’t have an organisation at the top that wants to be strong enough to say ‘righto – this is what we’re doing, we’re going to have a global season.” Is it now time for World Rugby to reshuffle the playing cards and introduce a global system?

This video is a discussion about what needs to happen for rugby to develop better throughout the world.
Video publish by The 1014 Rugby on YouTube

What good will a global season do?

This global rugby season Hansen is referring to would give these Pacific Island teams more time to prepare. The results of this would lead to more competitive test match rugby and also allow for more growth outside of the top tier. Hansen puts the problem the Pacific Island nations face in perspective saying, “It’s really difficult [for me] when your players play for five different franchises in New Zealand“, Hansen then went on to say, “So I can only imagine how difficult it would be when your players are playing all over the world and you’re bringing them back and you don’t have much time to prepare them.” Hansen is referring to the fact that most of the best Pacific Island players play in Europe due to the fact that there is more money in the game over there. Due to this factor, a priority is often given to the clubs, and players neglect their nations or are withheld from certain international competitions.

Video showing top 10 Pacific Island players
Video published on YouTube by George Vaka’uta

With all the talent that exists in the Pacific Islands hopefully soon in the near future there will be systems put in place that will allow for these great and fierce rugby nations to rise and really be counted on the big stage of world rugby. From an outsider looking in it looks to me as though the organisations need to get it right in terms of trying to put structures in place. Systems that give nations more power to dictate to clubs about whether players can play for their nations or not. It would be great to see these great nations playing more on the world stage and seeing what they can do at this year’s RWC.

entertainment, food, Japan, restaurants, Travel, TRAVELLING JAPAN

Three famous food spots in Japan

Japan Is full of amazing things to see that will most certainly blow your mind. The Land of The Rising son has given birth to Honda, Nintendo and Sushi. Japan has brought the world many weird and wonderful things over the years. Travelling to Japan must be a thrilling unforgettable experience. In this post I highlight three restaurants that guests a unique dining experience. I know that there are definitely more than three, but unfortunately I cannot include them all. I hope that this list helps enhance your experience whilst travelling Japan.

1. Robot Restaurant, Tokyo Red Light District

With great reviews and amazing reactions, what is not to like about Robot Restaurant? The restaurant hosts a 90 minute show that takes the viewer to another universe. A blend of Japanese culture, robots, dinosaurs, cabaret and lasers. Get prepared to have your mind blown away. Tickets can be bought online. You not only get to see what this amazing show has to offer but you get dinner as well. The restaurant is located in the Shinjuku’s Kabukicho District of Tokyo (otherwise known as the red light district), however do not let that idea scare you away as it is female friendly and one of the most vibrant areas of Tokyo.

Video review of Robot Restaurant in Tokyo Japan
Video by beetdownboogie

2. Izakaya Toyo, Osaka

Izakaya Toyo is located in Osaka, a city known as the Kitchen of Japan. This famous street food restaurant was started by the legendary street food chef Toyo who moved to Osaka when he was 15 to better his life. He started off as a dishwasher at his aunts bar and after two years began cooking and learning his craft. He then started saving to start up his own Izakaya (informal Japanese pub) and what started out running off the back of his truck is now a world famous establishment that has been running for 26 years. Izakaya Toyo did so well that it got a full Episode on the Netflix series Street Food. Toyo has become famous for cooking tuna cheek with a blow torch and his bare hands. He also has a killer sense of humor and is loved by the locals. If you are looking for a proper authentic fun Japanese experience, which can be compared to going to an Irish pub then look no further than Izakaya Toyo. Be warned you may have to wait a while because of popularity, but it is definitely worth it and the tripadviser reviews don’t lie.

Osaka’s Flamethrower Street Food Chef ★ ONLY in JAPAN
Video by ONLY in JAPAN

3. Ninja Akasaka, Tokyo

Ninja Akasaka has used a Japanese icon and used it to conceive a dining experience like no other. The restaurant is hidden away in the high-class Akasaka region of Tokyo. Ninja is more than just a meal. This is a thrilling journey through ancient Japan. At the front door ninjas guide guests through a series of secret passage ways on an adventure to their table. Diners are able to dine in a private room, which resembles the traditional Japanese dining culture. The experience is authentic up to the level that patrons have to sit on the floor. All staff are dressed traditionally as Ninjas and the menu is presented on a scroll taking patrons back in time. At first this sounds very odd, but according to the reviews it is one of the most mind blowing dinning experiences in the world. The ninja restaurant aims to transport guests to another dimension. If you really want to get the full experience it is recommended that you go for the set menu. Some of the dishes are also filled with theater, using fire to entertain guests. This is definitely more fine dining, but it seems as though it is worth every penny.

Video review of NInja Akasaka
Video by Sarah x0x0

These three restaurants are each unique and all offer something completely different. If you are planning on heading to Japan for the Rugby World Cup you should definitely make an effort to try and experience one of these unique restaurants. If you are looking for futuristic entertainment, then I would highly recommend heading to the mind blowing Robot Restaurant. Trying to get a taste for Japanese culture and walk the streets then Izakaya Toyo is probably the place for you. If you are looking for a traditional Japanese dining experience, then Ninja Akaksaka has it all. I have tried to tailor this post to have a choice for everyone. However, if you feel that somewhere else should have been included please leave it in the comments and let me know. I hope that this post helps add another dimension to your trip to Japan.

Attending live games, Japan, Passions, Rugby, Rugby History, Rugby World Cup, The History of Japanese Rugby, Top League, Travel, TRAVELLING JAPAN, University Rugby

Rugby in Japan?

The rugby world knows little about Japanese rugby and how popular the sport is in the land of the rising sun. When you think about rugby, Japan doesn’t necessarily come to mind. However, contrary to this bias, the host nation of this year’s 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) has a rich rugby history. This years RWC is being played in Asia for the first time, which is very exciting for world rugby. In this post I explore the origins of rugby in Japan as well as the rugby structures present in the country.

Host Country/ContinentYear
New Zealand & Australia1987
Europe1991
South Africa1995
Wales 1999
Australia 2003
France 2007
New Zealand 2011
England 2015
Japan2019
France 2023

Figure 1: showing host nations and years of rugby world cups.

Created by Joshua Parsons.

The history of rugby in Japan

Rugby was first played in Japan in 1866, when the first Rugby Club in Japan was founded called the Yokohama Foot Ball Club. Rugby was played in Japan before big rugby playing nations such as France, New Zealand and South Africa. The only other places with a longer history are Australia and The British Isles. The Yokohama Foot Ball Club was the first ever Asian rugby club. The establishment of Yokohama Foot Ball Club came about due to over a thousand British troops who were stationed in the area. Many had played Rugby at school in England. The large number of troops made it easy to play as back in those days 40 players were needed to play a game. This was the foundation of rugby in Japan and is also the untold history of how the game started in the land of the rising son.

Scene of a rugby game in Japan.
Source: Harper’s 1874, Illustrator unknown

The father of Japanese rugby

The Japanese began playing rugby at Keio University in 1899. Ginnosuke Tanaka and Edward Bramwell Clarke introduced the great game to the men of classes they taught at the University. The University played their first official game in 1901 against expatriates of the Yokohama County Athletics  team. The team established fixtures against other clubs and soon the sport grew in Universities. This lead to the first inter-university game being played between Doshisha and Waseda Universities in 1923. The early 1920’s saw rugby grow rapidly in Japan, having over 60 000 players and 1 500 clubs. Tanaka is now remembered as ‘the father of Japanese rugby’. The birth of rugby in the land of the rising son led to the first ever Japanese tour in 1930. The national team traveled to Canada and had great success winning 6 games and losing 1. The ‘Brave Blossoms’ have participated in every RWC since its inception in 1987.

A picture of Ginnosuke Tanaka
Source: Wikimedia Commons

How popular is rugby in Japan today?

Japan is the fourth biggest rugby playing nation in the world with a population of 122 872 rugby players as well as having 3 631 official clubs. The national side nicknamed The Cherry Blossoms or The Brave Blossoms are ranked 11th in world rugby. Although rugby is only the 5th most popular sport in Japan they have a competitive domestic league called Top League. Top League draws players from many strong rugby nations. There are well known players such as Daniel Carter and Matt Giteau who have had stints playing in Japan.

Vlog by The Imbiber published on YouTube

University rugby in Japan

Rugby is popular at Universities around Japan, which participate in The All-Japan University Rugby Football Championship. The championship kicked off in 1964 and currently there are currently 16 universities competing. The most successful University in the competition is Waseda University who have won 15 Championships. The final is usually well attended having close 40 000 spectators as of 2005. The University rugby culture in Japan is very competitive. University teams often play against professional teams, however there is a gulf in class between the two levels.

Video published by World Rugby on YouTube

Why will the RWC be special?

Japan is an exciting new frontier for world rugby fans as all the world cups to date have been hosted by top tier nations of rugby. This new frontier could open a new dimension and will help grow the game in Asia. The expansion of rugby into this new realm, which most orthodox rugby supporters know very little about is one of general excitement. A ticket to Japan will be a prized possession come 20 September 2019.

Attending live games, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, Travel

6 tips for a good day at the game

I have been to many rugby games and I have learnt the hard way about things to do and things not to do on game day. I am writing this post to help you have the most enjoyable day possible at the game. Big events like world cups are usually very efficient and well organised, but it is still good to be prepared for any eventuality that may occur. Watching test match and professional rugby is something special and something that I hold very dear to my heart. So the first rule must definitely be fun. Here are the 6 tips I have for a good day at the game.

Cape Town Stadium panorama
Photo by warrenski

1. Get there early

Most big games draw crowds that are upwards of 60 000 people, which can mean large queues. If you want to stand in a queue for 30 minutes and rush to get to your seat without any food or beverages be my guest. For me however that is not enjoyable. When you get to the stadium early you get to meet your fellow supporters, and take in the atmosphere that attending a professional or international test match brings. There are often match build ups that begin ad least an hour in advance that get you in the mood for the game. This will also give you time to locate the nearest bar and toilet.

Avoid long queues
Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash

2. Get the best tickets possible

Your enjoyment can also come down to where you are sitting in the stadium, although you can enjoy the game from anywhere in the stadium there are certain seats that are better for viewing the game than others. My perfect seat would be midway up and as close to the halfway line as possible. This seat will give you the best view of the action as possible. If the game is going on during the day you may also want to figure out where the shade will be and try and get a seat in the shade. Sitting in the sun can really drain your energy.

An old ticket from 1969, Wellington, New Zealand
Photograph by Phillip Capper

3. Organize transport for before and after

Going to rugby games sometimes involve drinking beer and having a good time with your friends and fellow fans. Having to worry about driving yourself to and from the stadium can limit your enjoyment of the game. This is why if you are able to afford it you may want to Uber or take a taxi to and from the stadium. Depending on where the game is you may be able to get public transport. Another more affordable option is to get a large group of people together and split a bus or mini bus. They don’t have to be people you know and you can easily find people with today’s social media. Having a large group is probably the most affordable option. Create a check point and a time that you want to meat before and after. Using this method will mean you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving and you don’t have to worry about finding parking.

A limousine
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 

4. Dress appropriately

I know this is probably an obvious one, but you need to wear the right clothes for the conditions. Check the weather for the time of the game and see if it is going to change and get colder or warmer. If it is going to get colder during the day you should definitely bring something warm. Make sure that it is easy to carry and maybe put it in a back pack as carrying a large jacket or jumper around could quite possibly limit you and ruin your day. Jeans are always a good option especially if you are going to be wearing a supporters jersey. The bottom line is if you are too hot or too cold, your experience of the day will be ruined as you won’t be able to enjoy yourself.

6 BIGGEST Style Mistakes Sports Fans Make!
Video published by alpha m.

5. Go with a friend

Going to a big game alone can be intimidating, having a mate with you will most definitely enhance your experience. Shared experiences help you grow closer to people so maybe this is your chance to take your boyfriend or girlfriend as a nice gift. Maybe you want want to reconnect with a relative or friend. A ticket or day at the game can be the perfect birthday gift and a memory that someone will cherish for the rest of their life. However on the off chance that you aren’t able to go with a friend, be sure to make friends with the people sitting around you. A good way to ensure that you always have someone to watch the game with is by joining the supporters club of the team you support. I went to the RWC 2015 semi-final on my own and made friends with the guy sitting next to me and we ended up having a jolly old time. Make the best of your situation.

A picture from the Fifa World Cup 2010
Photograph by Celso FLORES 

6. Don’t take your eyes off the game

In rugby the game can move so quickly and if you blink you may miss some amazing skill or a great line break or try. In order to not be left in the dark make sure that you don’t take your eyes off the game. A good tool to have whilst at a game is a pair of binoculars. This means that you can follow the game more closely especially if you are up on the top row of the stadium. A good tip to not take your eyes off the game is to get there early and make sure you use the toilet well in advance. If you want to drink and eat during the game then also make sure that you maybe buy two beers per half so that if one finishes ad least you don’t have to miss any of the action by getting up to get more beer. This will mean you don’t get left out and you can enjoy every moment of the amazing game we call rugby.

Best moments of the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England
Video published by RugbyVidsOfficial

Have fun and enjoy

Follow these simple steps and plan out your day the day before in order to maximize your enjoyment. Once you have an easy to follow plan and follow this simple formula your enjoyment will sky rocket. The key to the success of a day is planning exactly what you want to do. One last tip is to go to a game with no expectations and no preconceived idea of what the day is going to be like. Usually your expectations are let down, so rather go there with an open mind and take in each moment. This will most definitely see you have a greater level of enjoyment. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

about me, Attending live games, Passions, Rugby, Travel, Uncategorized

Joshua Parsons #MrRhodesRugby

My name is Joshua Parsons I am currently in my fourth year of studies in Digital Media at Rhodes University. I have been playing rugby since I could walk and over the years I have developed a deep passion for the game. This passion led me to try out for the rugby team at University, and whilst in my third year I was given the opportunity to lead the Rhodes University 1st XV Rugby Side, which I have now done for two consecutive seasons. Through this blog, I have decided to combine my passion for rugby and content creation.

Joshua Parsons
Photograph by Paige Timmer

I was born in Johannesburg and lived there until my parents decided to move Hilton in KZN South Africa. Thinking back to my childhood now, I have very fond memories of playing rugby for hours with my younger brother in the garden, as well as playing on the morning frost with my friends at school. As a player and as a fan, nothing makes me feel more alive than a game of rugby. The game of rugby is special because it is a game that is unforgiving to those who have not prepared well, but very rewarding for those that have made the sacrifice and put in the hard work. This in itself becomes an important metaphor for life.

Nelson Mandela quote about sport.
Graphic created by Joshua Parsons
Photograph by lasanta.com.ec, July 5 2013

For as long as I can remember, sport has been a symbol of togetherness for my family and for the whole of South Africa. This is captured in the way that Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup (RWC) to unite the South African nation helping people put their differences aside. In our country, which is one with a very difficult past for the majority of the population, this is truly inspirational. In my family, and I’m sure many others, major sporting events allow families to come together and celebrate around a braai. I still remember watching the 2007 World Cup Final with my whole family. After that day my dream was always to attend a rugby world cup in whatever capacity I could, be it as a fan or even now I think of attending as a media representative.

Springboks unite a nation: RWC 1995 final
Video by World Rugby

I remember sitting in the stands with my peers and being addressed by greats like Bobby Skinstad and having a close relationship with Dick Muir growing up. The presence of professional rugby players almost knocks me off my feet. It is a truly humbling experience to be in the presence of these greats. I love seeing how these men have devoted their lives to greatness and how they sacrifice so much to play the sport that they love. For me rugby players are the closest thing you can get to real life super hero’s.

My girlfriend and I watching South Africa play Australia at The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, 29 September 2018

In 2015 I had the pleasure of going to watch the World Cup semi-final game between the All Blacks and South Africa. This was something I had dreamed of for years and it was an unreal experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Not just the atmosphere, but also the way the game of rugby brought people from all corners of the globe together to unite. After that 80 minutes the All black supporters were friends and not enemies. Even though there was a rivalry between the two sets of fans there was also an amazing respect for one another.

My ticket to the RWC semi-final between South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham

This ticket is something I hold very dear to my heart and I have kept it ever since that day. This was one of the best experiences of my life and was probably one of the greatest games I have attended. The story behind the ticket is one of hope, because I was in the United Kingdom at the time of the world cup and I really wanted to go and support the Springboks as any passionate fan would. I decided on the day that I would take all the money I had and see if I could buy a ticket outside the stadium and attend the game. My plan B was that I would watch the game in a pub if I could not get a ticket. As soon as I got off the train there was a man who wanted to sell his ticket and it was my lucky day. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and my dream is to attend another World Cup in the near future.

Joshua Parsons leading FNB Rhodes out against CPUT, 18 March 2019 at Rhodes Great Field
Photographed by Mzwanele Sibanda

When I got to University I soon developed a passion for playing rugby. I started playing in the koshuis league, where I was noticed by the 1st XV coach who invited me to come and practice with the 1st side. I then started to feature regularly for the 1st team where I developed a real love for the game and a love for hard work and dedication. In my second year I was made captain of the Rhodes University 1st side that play in the FNB Varsity Shield. In 2019 I captained my team to their first ever victory in the Varsity Shield on national television. The highlights of this game can be seen in the video bellow.

FNB Rhodes vs FNB UFH, Varsity Shield, 21 February 2019
Video published by SuperSport

Through studying journalism and watching rugby I developed a passion for creating content and soon started my own YouTube channel called ParshallProductions. I comment on rugby and also post creative videos and vlogs. My passion is to one day turn this channel into my full time project. My other passions include getting up early, meditating, gym, water sports and many more. I hope that you as a reader enjoy this blog as much as I have enjoyed creating all the content on the blog and hopefully it will help you in some way pursue your passion.

Varsity Shield Rugby Highlights Joshua Parsons Rhodes University
Video by Joshua Parsons