Fears Japan will run out of beer during Rugby World Cup

May 6, 2019
By Alana House

Officials have expressed concerns that stadiums and bars will run dry during the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

More than 400,000 visitors are expected to visit Japan during the World Cup, which will start in September.

Total beer consumption during the last event stood at 1.9 million liters, including sales at public viewing sites. Of the total, 1.3 million liters was consumed at game venues.

Mick Wright, 2019 executive director for operations, said: “We have been explaining to all the cities that they better stock up on beer because we know from history that rugby fans will drink a lot.”

The organising committee has held briefing sessions in the cities of Sapporo and Oita, where it warned restaurant and hotel operators that running out of beer could cost them lucrative business opportunities and prompt bad publicity.

It has also called on restaurants and bars to extend business hours so that visitors can have a few beers after games.

Sponsor Heineken “horrified”

The Sun revealed last month that one stadium planned to stock just five beer kegs for a match instead of the 1300 expected to be consumed.

At a Japan-Australia game in November, so little beer was supplied that parts of Yokohama stadium ran out before kick-off.

A Nissan Stadium official told The Asahi Shimbun she was surprised by how much beer rugby fans from outside Japan consume.

“A spectator typically drinks one glass of draft beer during a soccer match, but rugby watchers consume four to six glasses per person,” she said. “One customer even bought 24 cans of beer.”

Heineken has had a relationship with the Rugby World Cup since 1995.
Heineken has had a relationship with the Rugby World Cup since 1995.

Sponsor Heineken was apparently “horrified” by Yokohama Stadium’s single, tiny bar and limited beer supplies for tens of thousands of supporters.

A source said: “They were in Japan checking facilities ahead of the tournament. They were shocked at the small amount of beer for sale in grounds. One had just one bar and five kegs of beer.

“That wouldn’t last five minutes with rugby fans, let alone an entire game.

“Everyone’s glad it’s been spotted now. They have nearly six months to make sure it’s sorted out and no one goes thirsty at the World Cup.”

Heineken’s relationship with World Rugby dates back to 1995.

As a Worldwide Partner for Rugby World Cup 2019, Heineken will continue its popular match traditions across the 12 venue tournament, such as the Heineken Coin Toss and the Heineken Back Stage Stadium Tour. The partnership will also include exclusive pouring rights, LED pitch boarding exposure and tickets giveaways.

Police advised to have “light touch”

Japanese police have also been briefed on the behaviour they can expect from rugby fans.

“The way the fans behave, it might be loud and it might be raucous but it won’t be intimidating,” Wright said.

“With the police, I think we have been really successful in explaining to them that the light-touch approach is going to be better.”

Yoshiya Takesako, Japan 2019 director of security, added: “Rugby fans may seem scary but they are not.

“This has been explained to the police so they have been educated that fans will drink a lot and may sing or be loud but it is not like they will hurt anybody.

“I have told the police forces many, many times to respond to fans in a reasonable way.”

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