Rugby World Cup 2019 finals medals capture the spirit of Japan, following an incredible five weeks of Rugby World Cup action, and with the rugby world counting down to the final weekend of Rugby World Cup 2019, World Rugby and the Japan 2019 Organising Committee have revealed the designs for the gold, silver and bronze medals for this weekend’s bronze final and final.
Designed by famed Japanese master craftsman and national living treasure, Minori Yoshita, the medals encapsulate Japan’s seamless blend of profound respect for tradition, coupled with its deep spirit of cutting-edge, technical innovation.
Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee CEO Akira Shimazu said: “These stunning medals capture the most iconic symbols of Japan – our beloved cherry blossoms, the ubiquitous torii gate and the rising sun atop Mount Fuji – and combine them with the Webb Ellis Cup and the Rugby World Cup 2019 logo. They signify the bonds of friendship and respect that bind the world of rugby.”
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Playing in a Rugby World Cup final is the absolute pinnacle for any elite rugby player. These remarkably beautiful medals are sure to be cherished for years to come. Long into the future, they will help transport these players back to Japan and back to their treasured memories of this weekend when they, their teams and fans from across Japan and throughout the world write another memorable chapter in the glorious history of Rugby World Cup.”
The face of the medals features a silhouette of the Webb Ellis Cup placed upon the Rugby World Cup 2019 ‘unity graphic’ comprising patterns drawn from ancient Japanese Byōbu decorative screens brought together in a circle encapsulating a stylised image of Japan’s sacred Mount Fuji. The image symbolises a theme so often encountered in all aspects of life in Japan, the seamless connection of the ancient with the modern.
The purple medal ribbon which symbolises respect passes through a symbolic torii gate. Seen throughout Japan at the entrance to Shinto shrines, the torii gate symbolises the transition from the mundane to the sacred, a fitting metaphor for the achievements this medal recognises.
The rear of the medal is adorned by Japan’s beloved sakura, the ubiquitous cherry blossom held so dear by all Japan and which features so deeply in the Japanese psyche. The sakura motif frames the unmissable Rugby World Cup 2019 logo that symbolises the coming together of Japan as it welcomes the global rugby community, with the Rising Sun and Mount Fuji seamlessly blended into World Rugby’s iconic logo.
The medal ribbon is made from rare Kumihimo Japanese silk, a material treasured for centuries for both its famed softness and incredible durability. Kumihimo silk was a prized material in the wardrobes of high nobles and in the armour of Japan’s highest ranked samurai. This silk is specially sourced from small, boutique silk growers in Kumamoto, Saitama and Iwate, all prefectures that played proud host to Rugby World Cup 2019 matches. With less than 0.38 per cent of silk used in Japan domestically grown, of which the highest grade Kumihimo silk makes up a small component, this silk is truly rare and highly valued among Japanese.
Born in 1932, Minori Yoshita is the master of the world famous Kinzan Gama. An expert proponent of the Yūri-kinsai technique, Yoshita was recognised as a National Living Treasure of Japan in 2001. Developed in the historical city of Kanazawa in the 1960s, Yūri-kinsai is a highly specialised gold leaf-application technique used in Japanese pottery and porcelain. This technique is the inspiration of the sakura motifs on all Rugby World Cup 2019 medals, which were created under the direction of Minori Yoshita.