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Rugby-loving Northern Ireland couple have a ball in Japan

Lurgan pair savour trip of a lifetime at World Cup

Orlagh McKavanagh and Niall Creaney
Orlagh McKavanagh and Niall Creaney
Former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw holds the Rugby World Cup trophy during the tournament’s opening ceremony
Some of the theatrics on show
Some of the theatrics on show
Some of the theatrics on show
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A couple from Co Armagh are gearing up for a "once in a lifetime trip" as they join the hordes of Ireland fans flocking to Japan for the Rugby World Cup.

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Joe Schmidt's players, captained by the retiring Ulsterman Rory Best, kick off their challenge for the Webb Ellis Cup tomorrow against Six Nations rivals Scotland at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama.

World Cup hosts Japan got off to the perfect start yesterday, beating Russia 30-10 in the opening game of the tournament.

It followed an opening ceremony complete with Richie McCaw, the two-time New Zealand-winning captain, holding the famous gold cup above his head.

The opportunity to see the boys in green compete on the biggest stage of them all was one that couldn't be missed by Orlagh McKavanagh (27) and Niall Creaney (29), who are both currently teaching in South Korea.

The Lurgan couple catch a flight next Saturday to see Ireland play Japan in their Pool A fixture at the Shizuoka Stadium, Shizuoka - with a UK kick-off time of 8.15am.

Being so close to Japan meant the couple couldn't pass up the chance of witnessing a World Cup game, Orlagh explained.

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"When we got the details that the tickets were coming out we had to log on at a particular time," she said.

"You then had to queue and we must have queued for about four-and-a-half hours but once you got on the website it was handy enough to get the tickets.

"We're just so close to Japan because it's only a couple of hours away on the flight."

Meanwhile, Niall is hoping Ireland can reach the quarter-final or semi-final stage.

"We're thinking about going to a quarter-final or semi-final too if they get that far," he added.

"I hope they get to the semi final stage but they'll probably get knocked out in the quarters. As long as they don't get any injuries in the group stage they should finish top.

"I think they'll be strong enough to get past Scotland and Japan and hopefully they'll have a full team after that."

Yesterday Japan raised the curtain on the World Cup in spectacular fashion.

A brilliant show celebrating the country's rich culture, ancient and modern, wowed a capacity crowd at the Tokyo Stadium.

The ceremony was inspired by Japanese festivals and included high-tech Kabuki dance performances.

Rugby World Cup classic World in Union was belted out by a choir as images of each competing nation were projected onto a model of Mount Fuji in the centre of the pitch.

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