On Thursday 25 October 2018, we had the ANZCCJ Bledisloe Cup Charity Gala Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo. The event was sponsored by AIG, AMP Capital, ANZ, Lendlease Japan, Melanie Brock Advisory, and STH Japan. This event marked the first ever charity gala that the ANZCCJ has held since the Chamber’s inception in 1972 and was a real highlight for many. Our aim was to bring the Australian and New Zealand rugby, business and embassy communities together with Japanese stakeholders to demonstrate our special partnership with Japan under the banner of rugby. The event also raised funds for the Kamaishi Community Sports Project, an important community for the Chamber and one which the Australia and New Zealand business community in Japan has strong links. The guest speakers we had on the night were: Australian Ambassador to Japan, HE Richard Court; New Zealand Ambassador to Japan, HE Stephen Payton; CEO Rugby Australia, Raelene Castle; CEO New Zealand Rugby, Steve Tew; and Kamaishi Mayor, Takenori Noda.
“Take the opportunity to deepen the bonds in this community. Bonds not only in business, but the bonds that can make a difference to the broader Australia and New Zealand relationship with Japan”, said ANZCCJ Chair Andrew Gauci in his welcome remarks at the beginning of the night, reflecting the unity pursued through the event.
Ambassador Court said that both the All Blacks and Wallabies carry three important values which are teamwork, perseverance, and commitment to excellence. He said Australia, New Zealand and Japan can share the same values in order to develop further connections amongst our three countries, and that these values already can be seen in the ANZCCJ’s commitment to connect with the Kamaishi community. Ambassador Payton reminisced of his first posting to Japan which was when the All Blacks’ first toured Japan back in 1987, and how this significantly inspired the rugby culture of Japan. Ambassador Payton said the Rugby World Cup 2019 would also create exciting new opportunities beyond the rugby field - he predicts that it will strengthen ties between the three countries in a wide variety of fields such as business, tourism, health, education and so on. Kamaishi Mayor Takenori Noda said that “throughout the recovery process, there has been a number of challenges that we [Kamaishi] faced as individuals and as a town as a whole. And throughout the process, we have felt the strong spirit of rugby especially as the slogan, “One for All, All for One” as we united together as a town”. The event MC for the evening was ANZCCJ Sports for Business Committee Co-Chair Sally Townsend.
CEO of NZ Rugby Steve Tew commented on the devastating effects of the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch and spoke about the power rugby had had during the recovery period from that disaster. He said “we are all incredibly excited to have the opportunity which the Rugby World Cup brings in Japan and Asia”. CEO of Rugby Australia Raelene Castle thanked the All Blacks for hosting and bringing the Bledisloe Cup finals to Tokyo. She said “it is an important opportunity for the Wallabies and All Blacks to come together and understand what it is like to play in this environment”. She also mentioned the special relationship Rugby Australia had been forming with the Odawara town, where they will have their rugby training base in Japan up until 2020. Steve said “It is important to recognise that some people are a lot worse off than we are and so to sit down and use rugby as a medium for their effect is fantastic” .
At the end the night, ANZCCJ Chair Andrew Gauci presented a cheque for JPY 1.5 million to the Kamaishi Mayor for the Kamaishi Community Sports Project. Takenori thanked the Chamber for the donation which would go towards supporting the community during the RWC19 games in Kamaishi.
It was one of the biggest events ANZCCJ has held. We had over 280 guests, over 50% were Japanese, and a pre-event press conference which also included former All Blacks Captain, Richie McCaw.
Thank you also to Air New Zealand, Qantas and Kirin for their generous donations.