Japan Fears Beer Shortage Ahead of Rugby World Cup Kick Off

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 13: A supporter carries beer during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Bath Rugby at Kingsholm Stadium on April 13, 2019 in Gloucester, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty

Hundreds of thousands of rugby fans heading to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup which kicks off Saturday have been warned to brace for their worst possible nightmare; a beer shortage in the host nation.

As part of the planning for the event, the organising committee has urged business operators to order in sufficient quantities of beer to avoid upsetting travelling fans by running dry, Japan’s Jiji Press agency reported.

The concerns were among issues raised as part of briefing sessions held last month in Sapporo, Hokkaido and Oita, the Japanese cities tipped to deal with the largest influx of international visitors. The event runs from September to November and is expected to draw more than 400,000 fans from abroad.

The scale of beer consumption anticipated has been based on previous performances by thirsty rugby fans.

During the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, 1.9 million litres of beer was consumed. In venues that also host soccer games, the average beer consumption during RWC 2015 was six times more than at soccer matches, Kyodo News reports.

At RWC 2003 in Australia, a venue hosting an Australia match on Saturday and an Ireland game on Sunday sold its entire supply. In France in 2007, the city of Marseille virtually ran out of beer and wine when hosting a quarterfinal between South Africa and Fiji.

Organisers in Japan are worried that any repeat will harm the country’s repution for hospitality. Thye are concerned many restaurants and bars will simply run out of supplies not knowing rugby fans are known to consume the foaming liquid before, during and long after matches take place.

To that end Japanese brewery of Heineken, the tournament’s official beer sponsor, has already increased production by 80 percent – “We’ll try not to run out of stock no matter what,” they say – while briefing sessions were held in host cities, where restaurant and hotel operators were warned against debilitating booze shortages.

“We hope they will take care to ensure enough beer is in supply during the event,” said an official from Oita prefecture, the Guardian reports.

USA Rugby begins its tournament on Thursday at Kobe’s Misaki Stadium with a match-up against 2003 winner England.

The Eagles are in a daunting pool that includes England, France and Argentina which suggests their most realistic chance of securing a group stage win is likely to come in the final game against Tonga on October 13.

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