Japanese rugby fans cheered the Japan's national Wheelchair Rugby team players in a send-off event that took place during half time of Japan's IRB Pacific Nations Cup match against Samoa at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium in Tokyo.
The Japanese Wheelchair Rugby team, ranked third in the world behind the USA and Australia, are likely to be medal contenders at the London 2012 Paralympic Games having won bronze at the 2010 World Championships in Canada.
Exactly as the IRB and the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation, who sealed a partnership agreement in 2010, the JRFU and the JWRF have formed a strong relationship.
The Japan Rugby Football Union is a strong supporter of the Japan Wheelchair Rugby Federation and held this event aiming to get the whole of Japan behind the team before they fly to compete in the Canada Cup as part of their preparation for London.
"We will work as one and aim for the medal at the coming Paralympic Games. We would appreciate all of the support from Rugby Family," said captain Yoshito Sato.
The JWRF Team Director, Norihito Iwabuchi added: "The JRFU has supported us in many ways. Not only providing us with team wears, they give us opportunites like this to this to show the media and public what we are doing."
Iwabuchi also claimed that pace is the best characteristic of his team and by focusing on strengthening players’ fitness, the team can compete with the world's top teams.
In the Canada Cup, the eight participating teams will be the same as those competing in London, and each side will play two matches per day, compared to one at the Paralympics and will provide a perfect opportunity for each country to finalise their preparations.
As the 15-a-side Japanese Rugby national team look to the 2019 Rugby World Cup that will be held on home soil, their wheelchair counterparts are also hoping to compete in front of home fans at the Paralympic Games in 2020, for which Tokyo has become one of four applicant cities. The host city for the 2020 event will be elected in September 2013.
Wheelchair Rugby is an exciting sport with fast-paced and hard-hitting action that are exactly same characteristics of Rugby - it is one of the hottest attractions at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
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