After conceding 130 points in two losses, Japan coach John Kirwan felt his players needed a little spiritual help ahead of the Rugby World Cup match against Tonga on Wednesday.
The former All Black great and his squad traveled to Waipoua Forest near the northern tip of New Zealand to visit the sacred tree Tane Mahuta—“Lord of the Forest” in Maori—on Sunday. Revered as a Maori icon and thought to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old, it is the largest kauri tree in existence at 51.2 meters high (168 feet). It is also linked with Japan, being named a sister tree of Jomon Sugi in Yakushima in 2009.
“This is a very strong place for us to be,” Kirwan said. “We will take your strength with us on Wednesday night, when we have a huge game ahead of us.”
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