Lions players’ tattoos taboo in Japan
Cape Town - Lions rugby players with tattoos will have to be cautious of how they present themselves when the team visits Japan.
The Lions departed for Japan on Tuesday where they will open their Super Rugby campaign against the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday (06:15 SA time).
According to Netwerk24, the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) wrote a letter to the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) shortly before the Lions’ departure.
In the letter, the JFRU warned players with tattoos to not display it in public.
A spokesperson for the Lions said they were especially made aware of the fact that the players should cover their tattoos when training in the gym.
Tattoos have negative connotations in Japan and in a lot of cases it is associated with the Yakuza, a Japanese organised crime syndicate.
Two Lions players - flyhalf Elton Jantjies and centre Lionel Mapoe - have several tattoos, but both have played club rugby in Japan so they will know how to go about displaying, or hiding, them.
After Saturday’s clash in Tokyo, the Lions will travel to New Zealand for matches against the Chiefs (March 5, Hamilton) and Highlanders (March 12, Dunedin).
Lions touring squad in alphabetical order:
Ruan Ackermann, Fabian Booysen, Andries Coetzee, Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Faf de Klerk, Ruan Dreyer, Andries Ferreira, Corne Fourie, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Elton Jantjies, Jaco Kriel, Robert Kruger, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Howard Mnisi, Franco Mostert, Julian Redelinghuys, Courtnall Skosan, Dillon Smit, Dylan Smith, Warwick Tecklenburg, Armand van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Jacques van Rooyen, Harold Vorster, Warren Whiteley (captain) Lionel Mapoe (Gallo Images)