Guinness launches a documentary-style ad that salutes Japan’s first-ever female rugby squad

As the Rugby World Cup draws closer, Guinness – the beer brand known for its dark Irish dry stout – has released a new documentary-style advertisement in anticipation. It tells the story of Liberty Fields: Japan’s first female rugby squad and a team who defied the odds.

Recounting the real-life struggles experienced during 1989 Toyko Rugby World Cup, the narrative looks at the all-female team’s lack of coach, doctor and support. Yet despite its obstacles, the team broke down social conventions and fought for gender equality, becoming the first to represent the country at the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

“It was back in the day when getting harassed sexually and otherwise was a given,” says Noriko Kishida, Liberty Fields Rugby Football club founder, at the beginning of the documentary. Yukio Dazai, Liberty Fields flanker, adds: “Men expected women to be young, pretty and willing to quit their jobs for marriage.” It was a time where the union refused to let women play rugby, due to the sport being “too dangerous”. However, with ambition, the team joined the tournament and strove to change societal norms and standards – but due to their lack of experience, they were sadly knocked out in the first round against France.

“In a society that shunned female athletes, #LibertyFields RFC proved determination and togetherness win out in the end,” writes Guinness on its YouTube channel. “Raise your next Guinness to the team that fought the odds and won.”

The 60-second commercial, accompanied by a five-minute documentary, was written by Alex Grieve, chief director of creative agency AMV BBDO, with art direction by Adrian Rossi, creative chairman of Grey London, and direction by filmmaker Eliot Rausch through the production company Stink Films.

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