Advertisement

How A Tsunami-Devastated Town Became A Rugby World Cup Host

The Kamaishi Seawaves must be the world's most ironically named rugby club.

Founded in 2001, the club is based in the Japanese seaside town of Kamaishi, which was devastated in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, with up to 1,500 of its 35,000 residents killed.

If the rugby club was founded today, you'd imagine they might choose another name -- given the negative connotations of waves from the sea.

Take a bow, Kamaishi. (Photo by Satoshi Takahashi/LightRocket via Getty Images)

But the Seawaves are an integral part of this town's community, and played a key role in its recovery, so the name seems somehow appropriate now.

And it's even more appropriate that this rugby-mad community in north-eastern Japan was named one of just eight host cities of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Indeed, its brand new Kamaishi Unosumai Recovery Memorial Stadium has already hosted a classic, when Uruguay upset strong favourites Fiji 30-27 earlier this week.

READ MORE: Blood, Sweat And Beers: Matt Burke's Greatest Wallabies World Cup XV

For locals, the new stadium -- and the hosting rights alongside global megacities like Tokyo -- are a nod to the Kamaishi's recovery for the 2011 tragedy, but also to the importance of the Seawaves and indeed the sport of rugby to the local community.

This was the stadium when it was completed last year. As you can see in videos in this story, it has thousands of temporary seats right now. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Before the Tsunami, the Seawaves was already a hub of local community activities. After the devastation, it was crucial firstly in the emergency efforts, and then in the rebuilding. And there's an Australian connection too.

Will it shock you to learn he's the tall one who doesn't look very Japanese? (Photo by Sankei via Getty Images)

Scott Fardy -- who ended up playing 39 matches for the Wallabies, including the 2015 Rugby World Cup final -- was 24 at the time, and enjoying a year at the club.

He lived a little up the hill and was spared the effects of the tsunami. Many Australians and other foreigners in the region went home, to save crucial supplies for locals.

But for the next few days, Fardy and his teammates worked at the supply depot -- using their hefty rugby frames to unload trucks and lug bags of rice and other supplies.

Sport really can make the world a better place. This is just one example, and you can learn more about Kamaishi and the Seawaves in the video below.

READ MORE: Rugby Is Better Than The Miserable Football Code You Love

Network 10 is the FTA broadcasting partner for the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

We'll be showing all Wallabies matches, including this Sunday's crucial clash against Wales, with coverage starting from 5:45 pm AEST.