Rugby World Cup 2019 : No tattoos allowed
So the countdown is officially on. This time next year the Rugby World Cup will kick off in Japan.
But some players are facing a dilemma, with the news coming through from rugby's governing body that any tattoos will have to be covered up.
World Rugby has requested that players and fans conceal any tattoos so as not to cause offence to the locals.
In Japan, tattoos have long been associated with the notorious yakuza crime gangs, and tourists with visible ink can find themselves barred from traditional hot springs.
Head of the Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin said that players will be expected to cover up by wearing a rash vest when swimming in a public pool or when visiting bath houses.
"We will make people aware around the facilities that players will use, that people with tattoos in a Rugby World Cup context are not part of the Yakuza," Gilpin said.
"We have done a lot in the last year or so with the teams to get them to understand that. When we raised it with the teams a year or so ago, we were probably expecting a frustrated reaction from them but there hasn't been at all.
"That is a great tribute to the sport itself and to the rugby players themselves. They all also buy into the idea of putting on a rash vest in the pool or in a gym as they want to respect the Japanese culture.
"If they are using a public pool, they will have to cover up. Players will also have to wear different trainers indoors and outdoors. It will all be self-policing.
"We won't force any teams to cover up but they will want to because they want to be seen to be respecting the culture. Whether it is Scotland, Ireland, Wales or Italy, who have all been there recently, they all get it."
The Rugby World Cup begins on 20th September in 2019 with the opening match to be played between the host nation Japan and Russia at Tokyo Stadium.
Ireland begin their bid for World Cup glory against Scotland on 22nd September.
Belfast Telegraph Digital