IRISH rugby players with tattoos will be asked to hide them as a mark of respect to the Japanese people at next year's Rugby World Cup.
Players from all teams will be asked to abide by the request in an attempt to avoid causing offence to the local population at next year’s tournament in Japan.
Tattoos are considered “anti-social” in Japan and have long been associated with the notorious Yakuza crime mob.
World Rugby issued the news to teams this week, and have suggested that players wear a rash vest or guard if they are swimming in a public pool or visiting an onsen – a traditional Japanese bath house.
Several Irish players sport tattoos, and IRFU Media & Communications Officer David O'Siochain confirmed that the Irish squad adhered to the request for next year's Rugby Word Cup and that the team also operated under the same guidelines on their summer tour of Japan last summer.
Head of the Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin said: “We will make Japanese people aware around the facilities that players will use, that people with tattoos in a Rugby World Cup context are not part of the Yakuza.
“We have done a lot in the last year or so with the teams to get them to understand that.
"When we raised it with the teams a year or so ago, we were probably expecting a frustrated reaction from them but there hasn't been at all.
"That is a great tribute to the sport itself and to the rugby players themselves.
"They all also buy into the idea of putting on a rash vest in the pool or in a gym as they want to respect the Japanese culture," he said.
"If they are using a public pool, they will have to cover up.
"Players will also have to wear different trainers indoors and outdoors. It will all be self-policing."
The Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 next year with Japan kicking off the tournament against Russia at Tokyo Stadium.