A day after the Japanese team were knocked out of a Rugby World Cup during which they had won the hearts and minds of nearly every oval-ball watching tragic on the planet, their Kiwi coach Jamie Joseph and all 31 members of their squad attended a media conference in Tokyo attended by Japanese media only.
That was because the international media here in Japan weren't alerted to the fact it was on; and that in a nutshell is one of the big challenges the Brave Blossoms have in capitalising on their incredible success over the past five weeks.
They are an incredibly professional set-up on the grass, but the backrooms are staffed by individuals with an old-fashioned and amateur ethos. It's a clash of styles, just like the Japan v South Africa quarter-final was, and while the Japanese free-radical approach helped them beat Ireland and Scotland for the first time and united a nation, the backward-thinking approach to administration is threatening to send this shinkansen bullet train into reverse.
One day during the build-up to the sudden-death match against the Boks, the Japanese team provided three players to speak to the media. It was in Japanese only; no translator was present. On another, four players were provided. Only one – Tongan-born lock Uwe Helu (who went to St Thomas of Canterbury College in Christchurch) – spoke English. There was a translator present to interpret his answers for the Japanese media.
The All Blacks have a fulltime interpreter with them – New Zealander Joe Rush, who has lived in Japan for about 15 years and works for a rugby club here. Rush translates for the Japanese media who attend All Blacks press conferences and often asks questions on their behalf.
It may not appear that important in the big scheme of things but, as the Japan team, now ranked No 8 in the world (they were ranked No 6 and above Australia before their 26-3 loss to the Boks), attempt to break through to the next level and possible inclusion into the Rugby Championship, it was a shame their message couldn't get through to a captivated rugby world.
They are at a critical point in their history. News reports suggest that on Friday meetings will be held in Tokyo between Japanese and Sanzaar representatives during which the Brave Blossoms' possible involvement in the Rugby Championship will be discussed. The future of the Sunwolves, Japan's Super Rugby team who are due to bow out of the competition after next year, could also be on the agenda.
At least they appear to have their foot in the door in terms of the professional game. But the other big issue is how Japan capitalises in terms of providing opportunities for children.
More than 50 per cent of the nation watched Japan beat Scotland recently, a viewership of about 60 million. It's more than the number of viewers for the 2002 Football World Cup final in Yokohama. But there are obstacles for kids. Not all schools here have rugby programmes and there are no age-grade clubs in Japan.
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Brave Blossoms coach Jamie Joseph is more aware than most about the issues holding back the game here but he was not surprisingly discrete straight after his team's loss to the Boks. It is understood that he won't continue as head coach once his contract finishes this year. It's up to the administrators now.
"Oh crikey, I need a beer," the former All Black replied when asked what impact the tournament would have. "I can't tell you anything about what's next. I know that Japanese rugby is in a good place now… the younger Japanese players that we've been able to bring through are the future of Japanese rugby. For me, I'm just going to really celebrate the efforts and achievements of this team.
"I'm just the coach and my job is to get the boys ready and to get them playing rugby like they have been playing. If we can put the right system in place then it can keep growing."