The Rugby World Cup will dominate the sporting landscape when it kicks off in just over a months time but in a modern era of diverse media and always-on content, the live moment is only a part of the sporting landscape.
Guinness is an official supporter of the Irish Rugby Team and the Guinness series which this year forms the warm-up games for Japan but it is not an official Rugby World cup partner and so has chosen a different path to associate to the sport through the autumn.
That path is through the production of a new five-minute short film and TV advertisement bring back to life the story of a Japanese Women’s Rugby team in the 1980s who were pioneers of the sport.
Liberty Fields came to life in a society where women were still ‘expected to be young and pretty’, and where the physical side of a sport like rugby was deemed to be somewhat vulgar for women.
The team came to life through a determination not to be boxed in and while the motivation at the time was just to play, this retelling of the story casts the actions of those who took to the field to be of so much greater long term value.
Liberty Fields RFC provided nine of the players that represented Japan at the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991. Twelve teams took part in the unofficial at the time tournament which took place in Cardiff. Japan lost both their games by an aggregate of 82-0 but thanks to Guinness that is no longer the only historic footnote attached to their efforts.
There was no Irish team at that tournament. Our first appearance was in 1994 in Scotland where we exited at the Quarter-final stage following a 76-0 loss to the United States.
The value of keeping on going is where the long term gain is made though. It was in the pioneering spirit of players like Noriko Kishida, who founded the team and went on to become a key administrator in the sport at national and international level.
She is pictured laughing towards the end of the film when the team are gathered at the side of what remains the club pitches saying she could still imagine going out and rolling on it.
That’s a measure of why they got involved in the first place. They deserve to be remembered and the two years that this project has been in the making is time well spent in crafting a loving look back to those who made it possible for where the game is today and for the inspiration to continue on the long road that remains ahead in getting to where it deserves for girls and women around the world who ‘want to play.’
Join us tomorrow for an interview with Lynne Cantwell, former Ireland Women’s Rugby Captain and Chair of the Sport Ireland Women’s Sport Committee.
Image credit: Stephen McCarthy, Sportsfile