World Rugby Seeks `Reassurance' Over 2019 Japan World Cup

  • Japan given September deadline for revised host venue proposal
  • New stadium needed after Olympic Stadium plan scrapped

Rugby’s world governing body is seeking “formal reassurance” from Japan that it can deliver the 2019 World Cup following the removal of a new national stadium in Tokyo from a list of host venues.

Japan’s scrapping of a futuristic design for the main stadium of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has left organizers of the rugby tournament without a main venue. With no substitute named, World Rugby is demanding that Japan provide by the end of September a revised budget and host venue proposal.

The unprecedented demands compound a growing crisis for rugby in Japan. Eddie Jones said this week that he will quit as national coach after next month’s World Cup in England, adding to concerns that Japan may have its new Super Rugby franchise taken away. Only five players have so far signed contracts for the team that’s scheduled to join an expanded competition next year, Kyodo News reported.

“The new National Stadium was due to be the centerpiece of an exciting program of 12 host venues, staging the opening match, the final and other key clashes and its loss has significant impact on the overall ticketing capacity and tournament budget,” World Rugby said in a statement. “These are critical to an event that is the lifeblood of the game.”

The Japanese organizing committee and World Rugby are discussing the plans for the stadium and tournament, panel CEO Akira Shimazu said in an e-mailed response, adding that they would reach an agreement by the end of September.

World Rugby said it remained confident the first Rugby World Cup in Asia would be a “resounding success.” The Nissan stadium in Yokohama, the venue for soccer’s 2002 World Cup final, has been mooted as an alternative venue.

Japan is ranked 14th in the world. It opens its campaign in the England tournament with a pool game against powerhouse South Africa on Sept. 19, followed by matches against Scotland, Samoa and the U.S.

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