Japan RWC new start for rugby

    2015-03-02 21:19
    IRB head Bernard Lapasset (Gallo Images)

    Dublin - The 2019 Rugby World Cup, the first to be hosted in Asia when Japan welcomes the elite of the sport, will provide the game with a new start and a new vision, said Rugby World Cup Limited chairperson Bernard Lapasset on Monday.

    The 67-year-old Frenchman -- who is also president of the sport's global governing body World Rugby -- said that after some difficulties everyone was very happy with how the future of the tournament was mapping out.

    "It will be a new format, a new place and we are very happy with the future of the tournament," Lapasset told journalists at a press conference in Dublin where the 12 stadia for the World Cup were unveiled.

    "This will be a new way. Rugby is important for Japan but not only for them but for Asia too.

    "This will be a new start and provide a new vision for the World Cup."

    Brett Gosper, Rugby World Cup Limited's Managing Director, dismissed fears the Japanese national team would not be able to compete at the level required and therefore have an adverse impact on attendances.

    "Competitiveness comes from creating a maximum of high level competition for the Japanese team," said the 55-year-old Australian.

    "It is important to organise top tier tests for the national side which we have done and will continue to do so.

    "The Rugby World Cup is the third most important global sporting event and we are confident that the Japanese will turn up."

    Several of the stadia were used during the successful co-hosting of the 2002 football World Cup and Akira Shimazu, the chief executive of Japan Rugby 2019, said they would draw on that experience in their efforts to host an eyecatching finals themselves.

    "There is thanks to 2002 a big pool of knowledge to ensure it is a success," said Shimazu.

    "Of course we can learn a lot from England hosting the rugby World Cup later this year as well.

    "To help us too British Prime Minister David Cameron and our Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a memorandum of understanding last year re our hosting of both the rugby and the 2020 Olympics (London hosted a highly successful Olympics in 2012).

    "We will be working on many different levels with England."

    While Rugby World Cup had advised that 10 venues were the optimum -- Sendai, Nagasaki and Kyoto were omitted from the final list -- the governing body were satisfied with the hosts final decision to have 12.

    The final will be held in the New National Stadium Japan (which will also host the opening ceremony of the Olympics a year later), but perhaps the most emotive of the venues will be the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium as the city was heavily damaged in the devastating tsunami and earthquake in 2011 which killed almost 1500 of its residents.

    Both the New National Stadium and Kamaishi will be new stadia, the latter at a cost according to Shimazu of 150billion yen, which the government is funding.

    "Kamaishi is an area affected by tragedy and we are very happy to play a part in the recovery of it," said Alan Gilpin, who is head of Rugby World Cup essentially responsible for the day to day operations of the flagship event.

    Gilpin, who was appointed to the post in February last year, said that Rugby World Cup were satisfied with the budget and the stadia.

    "It (budget) is an area that has been worked on extensively for over four years and is a process we continue to work on," said Gilpin.

    "Like all budgets it gets refined over time. There is a platform of confidence to move forward on.

    "From Rugby World Cup's perspective we've evaluated the venues together and are satisfied they will meet all the requirements."

    For Shimazu there was no doubting the pull of the tournament will have on people, even if there are sceptics who question whether fans will flock to the stadia.

    "They will all be full," he said.

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