The preparation is really, really important and actually, it’s easy to prepare for the big games. The boys will have finished a
domestic season, all that work will be going in, they’ll be looking at all the
sequences and the set plays and what have you, and getting trained, really operating
as a team. But there’s team doctors, physios, advisers.
It’s like parenting, you know, if you were taking your children to a country that
you’d never visited before you would do a little bit of research and look into what
perhaps you would need to take and vaccinate against. Well all the players will
be exactly the same. The Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan is a great platform for the Encephalitis Society to raise awareness among the general public and
many of the fans going, about travel health and vaccine-preventable disease:
in this case encephalitis. Encephalitis simply means “inflammation of
the brain,” either through infection breaching a person’s blood-brain barrier,
which is the thing that we have in our brains to keep bugs out effectively.
In other cases, sometimes a person’s own immune system can go wrong, and their own immune system can attack the brain in error. So unfortunately encephalitis
has a high death rate, a high mortality rate. But in survivors they can often be
left with an acquired brain injury, and that’s leaving people with a whole range
of difficulties. We want people travelling to the Rugby World Cup do to think about
travel health. Some forms of been encephalitis that occur across Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands are vaccine-preventable: for example Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, and indeed Japan recently has had two outbreaks, in 2018 and 2019, of measles.
Vaccination is really something that needs to be considered if
people are spending extended periods of time, for example out in the countryside.
If they’re thinking of going on trips into the country, or into more rural
areas, then vaccination becomes more important. Though there’s lots of things
that people can do to help themselves as well as seeking travel health advise.
Avoiding touching animals, for example you don’t want to be bitten, you don’t
want to contract a rabies encephalitis, and wearing mosquito repellent,
keeping things on like the air conditioning in your room.
Well I played rugby union when I was 18, had trials for rugby
league during my career, later on. I suppose I’m an “armchair fan” – started to watch it, watch Six Nations I got hooked really! We’re going to Japan for 15 nights in total, but that involves then travelling from Sapporo in the north, all
the way down to Kobe in the south – well over 1000 miles between the first
2 games – visiting, sightseeing, along the way.
The preparations were all about logistics: so they were all about: “Where are we going to go? How are we going to get there? Where are we going to stay?”
I must admit, I hadn’t given a thought to whether I would need any particular vaccinations until Russ
raised the issue.
There’s an awful lot of coming together of people from all
corners of the world, so it is important that everybody really does give
inoculations and health care a real top priority as part of their planning. I’m very excited about the World Cup being played in Japan, and it’s given an
opportunity to people, to travel to Japan that otherwise wouldn’t have gone!