Kerre McIvor: Tattooed rugby players respect Japanese culture


Our All Blacks will cover up in public swimming pools and gymnasiums to avoid offending their Japanese hosts during the Rugby Word Cup. Photo / Brett Phibbs

COMMENT: Preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan are well underway, but a request to players and supporters of the competition raised eyebrows this week when it was made public.

Tattooed players within the teams, as well as their inked fans, have been advised to wear protective vests when using the swimming pools and gyms which are also open to the public to avoid offending.

In Japan, tattoos are associated with the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. And it looks like gamers are set to do just that.

Alan Gilpin, the tournament director, said when the issue was raised within the world rugby organization a year ago, they expected some backlash from the players.

After all, you’d be hard pressed to name a representative team that didn’t have at least one player with serious body art.

And for Pacifika and Maori players, their tattoos are an important representation of who they are. But no, the teams understood that when they are invited to another country, it is about respecting the cultures and sensitivities of that country and therefore all the participating teams have indicated that they will do what they can to avoid offending their hosts.

It seems incredible that it is easier to cover up the thousands of tatts sported by rugby players than it is to cover up a few corporate billboards.

Remember how the “clean stadium” issue cost New Zealand the right to co-host the 2003 Rugby World Cup with Australia?

But tattoos and their relevance also made the news this week after a report from Vice.com highlighted the outrage many Australian cops felt when told to cover up their tattoos.

New federal police dress code guidelines state that officers with visible tattoos will be required to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, unless they request an exemption on religious, medical grounds. or cultural.

I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it would be for officers, men and women, to be covered from head to toe during the summer in parts of Australia, but it is the Federal Police officers who are facing the heat right now.

An Australian cop, who is said to have a Southern Cross tattooed on his neck, says his culture is Australian bogan. The Tatts are one of them and he has just as much right as anyone to uphold his culture, the website quotes him.

AFP bosses have tried to put out the fire by saying common sense will apply in the application of the policy and the exemptions will apply on a case-by-case basis, but I think the Australian cops are right .

I don’t have tattoos. I had a feeling that the blue bird of happiness that I might have tattooed on my right and right chest in my early twenties would one day be a gaunt old seagull crashing into my scrub and it wasn’t really the look I had. after.

If I were to get a tattoo these days, it would have to be an accordion – as I lose weight, the accordion kicks in; as I inevitably stack it, the accordion stretches.

It would be the only tattoo I could imagine to fit my ever-changing body size. But I know a lot of people who have tattoos and none of them lack importance.

They might not be cultural role models, but they usually tell about something meaningful that happened in that person’s life and they are precious and symbolic to them.

New Zealand employers seem sympathetic to this and unless tatts are offensive, literally in your face, or downright ugly, tatts aren’t a snap for most Kiwi employers. I wonder if they are for parents these days.

The other reason that put me off getting a tattoo was the thought of what my dad would say.

He was reluctant to have my ears pierced – I couldn’t even begin to imagine what would have happened if I showed up with a tattoo. It could very well have been, without a word of lie when you speak of a man with hypertension, his death.

I feel like parents today are a bit more tolerant – helped by the fact that body art practitioners these days are much more talented and sophisticated than the guys that existed in the four’s. -twenty.

It would be interesting to know if tattoos are a “thing” for parents and employers these days. Or if parents and employers understand that there are much bigger issues to worry about.


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