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Gareth’s Rugby World Cup blog - part 2

RNIB Cymru’s rugby guru Gareth Davies is one of the star players of the UK’s Visually Impaired rugby team currently competing at the World Cup in Japan. He’s keeping us updated about the team’s adventures

“Hello, Gareth here with part two of my Rugby World Cup blog!

After our triumph over the Japanese VI team at Kumayaga Rugby Stadium, the team and I have been celebrating by exploring the wonderful city of Tokyo. There are obviously a lot of differences between here and home, but one thing that is really standing out to all of us is the amazing tactile paving.

It’s literally everywhere and is central to most walkways and pavements, so no matter where you go you know exactly where you are. It makes such a huge difference when walking through busy streets and indoor areas like Shinjuku train station. It’s the busiest train station in the world with almost 3 million people passing through daily, so it is very hectic for blind and partially sighted people!

However, the tactile paving makes navigating the chaos so much easier. Our teammate Matt was amazed at how much lower his stress levels were when using it. It’s something for planning teams back in the UK to consider when designing public spaces.

From Shinjuku train station we made out way to the Yokohama US Airforce Base just outside of Tokyo city. There, we met with teacher Katie Eriksen at Yakota West Elementary School. Katie works with blind and partially sighted students at the school, and we spent the day teaching these kids and their classmates all about VI rugby. We also hosted some Q&A sessions about sport, sight loss and life in general. Both the staff and students learnt so much more about rugby than they probably ever expected to know – the sport isn’t particularly well known by Americans! I hope they had a positive experience of VI sports that they can take with them throughout their lives.”