Japan opens Rugby World Cup stadium on 2011 tsunami site

In this Sunday Aug. 19, 2018, photo, Yamaha Jubilo's Kira Tomokazu carry the ball during a memorial rugby match against Kamaishi Seawaves at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Kamaishi, northern Japan. Japan opened the new stadium Sunday for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the site of a school that was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 2011. The teams faced off in a memorial match in the small coastal city of Kamaishi to honor victims of the deadliest disaster in Japan's recent history. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)
In this Sunday Aug. 19, 2018, photo, Yamaha Jubilo's Ayumu Goromaru, center, plays tag rugby with children before a memorial match between Yamaha and the Kamaishi Seawaves at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Kamaishi, northern Japan. Japan opened the new stadium Sunday for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the site of a school that was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 2011. "I'm very grateful that I'm able to be involved in the reconstruction of the town," Yamaha's star fullback Goromaru said. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)
This July 27, 2018, aerial photo, shows Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Kamaishi, northern Japan. Japan opened the new stadium Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the site of a school that was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 2011. The 6,000-seat stadium, the only new one built for the World Cup, stands on the former grounds of an elementary school and a junior high school. (Naohiko Hatta/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Sunday Aug. 19, 2018, photo, Yamaha Jubilo's Kuwano Eishin, top left, is lifted to receive a high ball during a memorial match against the Kamaishi Seawaves at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Kamaishi, northern Japan. Japan opened the new stadium Sunday for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the site of a school that was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 2011. The teams faced off in a memorial match in the small coastal city of Kamaishi to honor victims of the deadliest disaster in Japan's recent history. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)
In this Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, photo, fans watch as rugby players of Kamaishi Seawaves and Yamaha Jubilo play during an opening match at new Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Kamaishi, northern Japan. Japan opened a new stadium for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the site of a school that was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 2011. About 6,500 fans turned out Sunday for a memorial match in the small coastal city of Kamaishi to honor the victims of the tsunami. (Yusuke Ogata/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Sunday Aug. 19, 2018, photo, rugby funs queue up to enter Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium to watch a memorial rugby match between the Kamaishi Seawaves and Yamaha Jubilo in Kamaishi, northern Japan. Japan opened the new stadium Sunday for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the site of a school that was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 2011. The stadium will host two matches in next year's World Cup, which will be played at 12 venues around Japan. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)
This July 27, 2018, aerial photo, shows Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Kamaishi, northern Japan. Japan opened the new stadium Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the site of a school that was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 2011. The 6,000-seat stadium, the only new one built for the World Cup, stands on the former grounds of an elementary school and a junior high school. (Naohiko Hatta/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Sunday Aug. 19, 2018, photo, funs queue up to enter Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium to watch a memorial rugby match between the Kamaishi Seawaves and Yamaha Jubilo in Kamaishi, northern Japan. Japan opened the new stadium Sunday for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the site of a school that was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 2011. The stadium will host two matches in next year's World Cup, which will be played at 12 venues around Japan. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)

KAMAISHI, Japan — Japan opened a new stadium Sunday for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the site of a school that was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 2011.

Two Japanese teams faced off in a memorial match in the small coastal city of Kamaishi to honor victims of the deadliest disaster in Japan's recent history.

The Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium will host two matches in next year's World Cup, which will be played at 12 venues around Japan.

Rugby is popular in Kamaishi, and the decision to build a stadium and hold World Cup matches here has been a boost to the fishing community of about 35,000 people.

"People in Kamaishi were able to regain their hope through rugby," said junior high school principal Kenji Sasaki. "I personally feel like I'm dreaming."

The 2011 tsunami killed more than 18,000 people along Japan's northeast coast, including more than 1,000 in Kamaishi.

The 6,000-seat stadium, the only new one built for the World Cup, stands on the former grounds of an elementary school and a junior high school. Another 10,000 temporary seats will be added for the two World Cup matches in September and October of 2019.

About 6,500 people turned out for Sunday's match between the Kamaishi Seawaves and Yamaha Jubilo, which Yamaha won 29-24.

"I'm very grateful that I'm able to be involved in the reconstruction of the town," Yamaha's star fullback Ayumu Goromaru said.

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