As the countdown to the Rugby World Cup in Japan continues, Guinness has released the latest instalment of its Made of More campaign with the story of a Japanese women’s rugby team who stood together, in the face of societal pressure, to pursue their passion for the game.
“Liberty Fields” tells the tale of a group of women who defied the social conventions of 1980s Japan, by forming rugby team called Liberty Fields RFC. With no coach, no doctor and very little support, they balanced training with jobs and families andvset a new level for women’s sport in Japan.
To bring the story to life, Guinness has created a five-minute video documentary as well as a TV advert.
“Liberty Fields” follows on from previous iterations of the campaign. Previous films have included ‘Sisters’, which told the story of two sisters who rose through rugby to eventually play for opposing England and Scotland national teams, and ‘Never Alone’, which recounted the poignant story of Gareth Thomas, who through the strength he received from his team had the courage to become the first openly gay professional rugby union player.
Speaking about the campaign, Ms Kishida, of the Liberty Fields team, says: “It was back in the day, when getting harassed, sexually and otherwise was a given. Men expected women to be young, pretty and willing to quit their jobs for marriage. At the time, the women’s team weren’t recognised as official. So, we founded our own organisation.
“We lose if women can’t play rugby. The reason why we’ve kept on going is because we don’t want to lose. I wanted society to accept that women can love this kind of sport too, not just men.”
Former Irish International Rugby player Lynne Cantwell and Chair of Sport Ireland’s Women in Sport committee adds: “Women’s sport has made significant strides in recent years. It has become much more visible yet plenty of barriers remain not just in terms of getting women involved and staying involved, but also perception. The story of Liberty Fields rings true to this day and shines a welcome spotlight not just on the obstacles to be overcome but the many benefits society stands to gain from overcoming them and creating a more inclusive and diverse culture in sport and beyond.”
Apart from a key partner to the men’s Six Nations rugby, Guinness also partners the Women’s Six Nations. It also partners with Union Cup, Europe’s biggest LGBT+ and inclusive rugby tournament that took place in Ireland for this first time this year.