Thu, Oct 10, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Brave Blossom bonanza as rugby shirts fly off shelves

AFP, TOKYO

A shop clerk displays Brave Blossoms replica jerseys at a Rugby World Cup Megastore in Tokyo’s Shinjuku District on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

It is early morning outside the sportswear store near the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium and customers are lining up to get their hands on Japan’s hottest property: a Brave Blossoms replica shirt.

The red-and-white jerseys are flying off the shelves as the Japan team continues to defy expectations at the Rugby World Cup and is on course for a historic quarter-final.

Japan games are played in front of a sea of red-and-white shirts and sales have exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts — 90 percent of the stock for the whole tournament is sold.

Shirts are being sold as soon as they can be replaced, said Danny Robinson, manager of the Rugby World Cup Megastore in Tokyo. “Everybody loves the Japanese jerseys. It’s much, much more than we anticipated. Every day people are waiting at the door and coming in to grab the jerseys, so it’s very difficult to keep them on the shelves.”

Robinson estimates that about half of the people buying Brave Blossom jerseys are foreigners.

Australian fan Jesai Knight has been searching high and low for his souvenir.

“I came today to get one of those Japanese jerseys. We came here yesterday at about 9:30 in the morning, and they were sold out already at that point — and they told us to come back,” Knight said.

The availability of Brave Blossom shirts has not been helped by a supply problem at a warehouse to the east of Tokyo that was affected by Typhoon Faxai two weeks before World Cup began.

“The warehouse lost electricity,” Robinson said. “People were using flashlights to find jerseys to buy.”

The black shirts of defending champions New Zealand have also proved especially popular — and Japanese are snapping up the England, Scotland and Ireland shirts, Robinson said.

“I think Japanese rugby fans are showing a kind of ‘no side’ spirit,” Japanese fan Masashi Miho said, referring to their respect for the opposition.

“I see them hugging a rival team’s supporters once a game is over,” he added, as he went off to buy a New Zealand shirt.

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