I am eternally grateful to Faure and Faure Inc. for granting me the opportunity to participate in the University Rugby World Cup held in Japan representing the University of Cape Town. It was certainly an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life!
The food was something to get used to. We had rice and “bokkoms” (small dried fish) every single morning. Thereafter all the meals were accompanied by rice. If you were ever curious about the origin of rice – look no further than Japan.
The Japanese people live with so much compassion for one another. I could sit for hours observing their symbolic bow after an act of kindness or simply out of respect. I have never seen a town or streets so clean yet so little garbage bins available. Once, I was scolded for not throwing my rubbish in the correct bin. I felt so bad that I decided to scratch in the bin and correct my mistake. Instantly I was disappointed in the South African paradox of creating jobs when we litter.
People from all over the world flocked to Japan for the Rugby World Cup. Sport certainly has a unique way of bringing people together. South Africa and New Zealand was undoubtedly the biggest game in the World Cup. Seeing my fellow Springbok supporters and hearing Afrikaans was a comforting feeling. It certainly felt like a home-game.
Our South African team competed against the Universities from Japan, France, England, New Zealand, Canada, Siberia and Australia. My highlight was certainly facing the ‘HAKA’ from the New Zealand University’s side. We played in the final against the University of Bordeaux and emerged victoriously. Representing South Africa on foreign soil and achieving the highest honour is immeasurable.
My last day in Japan provided lots of anxiety. I sat down to eat my food in front of a store, which is obviously not allowed. I placed my passport next to me and finished my noodles. I got up and took the train to a different town and after two hours realised that I left my passport on the pavement. The humid temperature didn’t help as my clothes were soaked from the trauma knowing I am in all likelihood staying behind when the rest of the team return to South Africa. As I made my way towards the store I stopped in astonishment. My passport was still laying on the ground. I turned to my friends and said, “People don’t steal in Japan!” My belief in humanity is restored. What a great country!
I have made international friends and strengthened existing relationships. It is only appropriate that I leave you with a quote from from the heart of Japan.
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his own, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang”
Article by Darian Hock