Cape Town - Teams and supporters at next year's Rugby World Cup have been warned that they need to cover tattoos in public to avoid causing offence.
Players have been asked by World Rugby to wear rash vests when they use public gyms or swimming pools as tattoos are associated in Japan with Yakuza, the Japanese mafia.
Alan Gilpin, the tournament director, said teams had shown no objection when told about the need to cover tattoos.
In addition, an education programme, which also highlights the need to wear different footwear indoors from outdoors, is already underway.
The All Blacks, who will be looking for a hat-trick of World Cup titles in Japan next year, have already confirmed their players will respect the culture of the host nation and cover up their ink.
New Zealand Rugby chief rugby officer Nigel Cass said the All Blacks always respect local customs and cultures when touring.
“When any of our teams tour we endeavour to be respectful of the local customs and culture, and this will be no different when we visit Japan both this year and next year.”
Several current All Blacks sport tattoos, including Sonny Bill Williams, TJ Perenara, Codie Taylor and Aaron Smith.