Rugby World Cup 2019 begins with spectacular opening ceremony by hosts Japan
The Rugby World Cup 2019 kicked off with an opening ceremony like no other in host nation Japan.
Fans inside the Tokyo stadium were treated to a marvellous spectacle ahead of Japan's match with Russia, which featured everything from traditional dance, to wacky outfits.
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont took the stand with Japan's Crown Prince Fumihito to address the crowd, where he commended the first Rugby World Cup to be held in Asia.
"You can all be very proud tonight," Beaumont said. "You have made this real. Over the next few weeks we will experience the very best of rugby, the very best of fans, and excitement on and off the field."
"I know Japan will be the most welcoming of hosts, the best hosts.
"To the teams - this is your moment to shine on the greatest stage," he added, before calling on them to inspire, and promote rugby's values of: integrity, solidarity, respect, discipline and passion.
Masked men in white robes met in the middle of the Tokyo stadium under the spotlight of animated images to start the performance.
They were joined by fellow performers sporting black and red as the Tokyo drums sounded around the stadium.
Flags were lifted aloft as the bodies charged round in circles as the venues for the World Cup were displayed by the projector on the ground beneath them.
Traditional Kudoki music played as performers displayed a native dance, followed by a huge cheer from the onlooking spectators.
Two strange creatures appeared with outlandish attire and wild wigs, while patterns swirled and a dome tent was created behind them.
A brief timeline of Japan's history was then shown on the dome before each nation was introduced and represented by children from that country.
A loud cheer went up inside the stadium when England and Wales were called, suggesting there were more than a few Brits in attendance - but of course the biggest applause was saved for Japan.
The children then joined in unison to sing 'World in Union' for the crowd as clips from previous World Cup's were projected onto the dome and surrounding floor - including England's 2003 triumph.
New Zealand's 2015 World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw then held the Webb Ellis trophy aloft on a podium in the centre of the field.
On behalf of the holders of the trophy, McCaw placed the trophy onto a stand in waiting for this years eventual winners, before Beaumont's rousing speech.
The World Cup runs for the next six weeks with the final set to take place on November 2.
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