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Japan welcomes IRB Delegation as Planning Accelerates for Rugby World Cup 2019


IRB: Feb. 26, 2014 - A Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) delegation, led by Chairman Bernard Lapasset, is in Japan this week to assess progress as preparation to host Asia’s first Rugby World Cup continues to accelerate.

Meetings with tournament organisers Japan Rugby 2019, the Japan Rugby Football Union and the Japan government will focus on key areas including venue and operational planning, marketing and promotions, commercial and broadcast and growing the Rugby market.

Since the last visit in 2013, JR 2019 working in close collaboration with RWCL, has made significant progress developing the JR 2019 team to focus on important areas such as venue selection and marketing and communications.

Underpinning delivery is a strong partnership between the organisers and key government agencies, including the Ministry for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan Sports Council, regional councils and a close collaboration with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organising committee.

Lapasset said: “Under the leadership of Mr Mori and Mr Mitarai, JR 2019 continues to advance at pace with operational planning on track.”

“This week, we have a packed agenda of important meetings that will guide and assess delivery and I am looking forward to meeting with key tournament stakeholders to assess operational planning.”

“Japan 2019 represents an enormous opportunity to further the growth of Rugby participation, profile and engagement throughout Japan, across Asia and indeed the world.”

“We are encouraged by progress to date and look forward to continuing to work in full partnership to ensure the solid foundations are in place as we move into the delivery phase of this exciting project.”

The visit comes ahead of the Tokyo round of the popular HSBC Sevens World Series from 22-23 March, which is on track to set new attendance and broadcast records.

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Shimazu chosen as secretary general for 2019 Rugby World Cup organizing committee


Former internal affairs ministry man Akira Shimazu was named secretary general of the 2019 Rugby World Cup organizing committee by its board on Tuesday.

The 70-year-old Shimazu was the ministry’s administrative vice minister and will be counted on to coordinate with the venues for the tournament that will be decided in March 2015.

“The strength of the nation will be put to question,” Shimazu said during a news conference. “I will do whatever I can.”

He appears to have the full backing of Japan Rugby Football Union President Yoshiro Mori, who also heads the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizing committee.

“We’re counting on him to lead everything until the tournament is successfully over,” Mori said.


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Strong interest to host RWC 2019 matches
Wednesday 5 November 2014
Chief Executive of Japan Rugby 2019 Akira Shimazu at today's announcement in Tokyo

Fourteen cities the length and breadth of Japan have applied to host matches at Rugby World Cup 2019, Japan Rugby 2019, the tournament’s organising body has announced.

With the submission phase of the bidding process for the hosting of matches now closed, each application will be closely assessed with the successful cities or prefectures being announced in the first quarter of next year.

From Sapporo City in the north of the country right down to Nagasaki and Kumamoto in the south, there is a genuine geographical spread of proposed venues, meaning that fans will be at the very heart of the event, and there is also a healthy mix of stadium capacities ranging from 80,000 in Tokyo to 15,000 at Kamaishi City in the Iwate Prefecture.

The full list of applicants is: Sapporo City, Iwate Prefecture and Kamaishi City, Sendai City, Saitama Prefecture and Kumagaya City, Tokyo, Shizuoka Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture and Toyota City, Osaka Prefecture and Higashi Osaka City, Kyoto City, Kobe City, Fukuoka City, Oita Prefecture, Kumamoto Prefecture and Kumamoto City, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset welcomed the announcement: “It is very encouraging for us to note the huge level of interest in Japan to host matches for rugby’s showcase event. The fact that the tournament has the full backing of local and national government is particularly pleasing and it is essential for its success. Japan has a strong history of delivering world-class sports events with an excellent infrastructure, state-of-the-art venues and people who love to engage and be part of the celebration.”

Chief Executive of Japan Rugby 2019 Akira Shimazu said: “The standards required to host matches at Rugby World Cup are very high but, nevertheless, many local governments have submitted applications. I am confident that despite any challenges each applicant may face, they will be up to the task. I am truly grateful for their interest in hosting the Rugby World Cup 2019. The host cities will be our full partners, and we will select them in a fair and comprehensive process to ensure a Rugby World Cup that is successful nationwide and worldwide.”

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Rugby union-Yokohama wants to host 2019 World Cup matches

The Yokohama stadium that staged the 2002 soccer World Cup final between Brazil and Germany has been added to the list of potential venues for the 2019 rugby World Cup.

The 72,000-seat stadium was not on the original shortlist of venues bidding to host matches but World Cup officials agreed to accept a late application from Yokohama and the Kanagawa Prefecture, of which it is the capital.

A total of 15 cities and prefectures are now under consideration with a decision about the successful cities expected early next year.

"While we note that the deadline is passed for applications to host matches at Rugby World Cup, we have decided to accept this bid because we want to ensure that the tournament is available to as many sports fans as possible around the country," Japan Rugby 2019 chief executive Akira Shimazu said in a statement.

"Yokohama's bid will now be considered on its individual merits along with all the others."

The full list of bidders is: Sapporo City, Iwate Prefecture and Kamaishi City, Sendai City, Saitama Prefecture and Kumagaya City, Tokyo, Shizuoka Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture and Toyota City, Osaka Prefecture and Higashi Osaka City, Kyoto City, Kobe City, Fukuoka City, Oita Prefecture, Kumamoto Prefecture and Kumamoto City, Nagasaki Prefecture, Yokohama and Kanagawa Prefecture.

"The international stadium at Yokohama is a world-famous venue and iconic for millions of soccer fans who remember when it staged the FIFA World Cup final between Germany and Brazil in 2002," Rugby World Cup chairman Bernard Lapasset said.

"We are delighted that Yokohama and Kanagawa Prefecture have submitted this application as it further demonstrates how the local governments in every part of Japan are keen to host matches at Rugby World Cup 2019 and welcome the rugby world to their cities."


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Twelve cities make the cut for 2019 World Cup

Rugby World Cup organisers have announced the 12 venues across Japan that will host matches in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The venues are located across the length and breadth of Japan, giving the sports-loving population every opportunity to be a part of rugby's showcase tournament.

From Sapporo City in the northernmost main island of Hokkaido right down to Kumamoto City in the south, there is a genuine geographical spread of venues, meaning fans will be at the very heart of the event, and there is also a healthy mix of stadium capacities ranging from 80,000 in Tokyo to 15,000 at Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture.

The announcement comes exactly 200 days before the 2015 Rugby World Cup kicks off with hosts England playing Fiji at Twickenham.


While making the decision on which venues would be selected, a range of criteria were considered, including stadium quality, nearby training and other facilities, transport and the availability of local accommodation for teams, fans and media. It was also important to choose a diverse range of venues in terms of stadium capacity, geographical spread, rugby development and to ensure a world-class fan experience befitting a tournament of this scale and global importance.

The media announcement was beamed live to another press conference in Tokyo and a number of other celebrations will take place around the country to mark the successful bids to host matches.


Sapporo City

Venue - Sapporo Dome, capacity 41,410

Sapporo has played host to such international sports events as the 1972 Winter Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup 2002, as well as being the home city to professional baseball and soccer teams. This history of hosting many major sports events is a strong platform for Rugby World Cup 2019 to showcase the special appeal of rugby to an even broader audience in Japan and overseas at the northernmost venue.

Iwate Prefecture and Kamaishi City

Venue - Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, capacity 16,187

Kamaishi has long been known for steelmaking, being the site of Japan's oldest steelworks. This also is the city's connection to rugby, as the factory-sponsored team grew to become one of the top amateur teams in Japan. Although Kamaishi was devastated by the great earthquake of 11 March, 2011, the city has made great strides in its recovery. The city and its residents look to host Rugby World Cup 2019 as a way to thank all those who helped in this recovery effort, in Japan and around the world.

Saitama Prefecture and Kumagaya City

Venue - Kumagaya Rugby Ground, capacity 24,000

Kumagaya is a suburb outside Tokyo known for its many historical and cultural attractions. The city has also promoted sports locally, with rugby receiving particular recognition - Kumagaya is even called Japanese rugby's 'hallowed ground of the east' and is host to the spring all-Japan high school rugby championship. This long-standing, strong local popularity and support of rugby across all ages makes it a fitting host for Rugby World Cup 2019.


Venue - New National Stadium Japan, capacity 80,000

Since the 1964 Olympic Games, the nation's capital has played host to many international sporting events. Sports are a vital part of the lifestyle of the city's 13 million residents, who partake as players, fans and event supporters. As Tokyo and its citizens gear up for its second hosting of the Olympic Games in 2020, Rugby World Cup 2019 will be a key element of their sports lifestyle. Rugby fans around the world can expect fixtures at this venue, including the opening and final matches, to be staged as only Tokyo can, commensurate with its scale as a global metropolis and cultural centre.

Kanagawa Prefecture and Yokohama City

Venue - International Stadium Yokohama, Capacity 72,327

Yokohama's long international connections go back to when its port was opened to the United States, the Netherlands, Russia, England and France in 1859. Beginning with these countries, the international influences shaping Yokohama's culture have created a truly unique and enjoyable city. It was the link to England that resulted in the origin of rugby in Japan. British soldiers stationed in Yokohama began playing rugby for amusement, leading to the founding of the Yokohama Football Club in 1866. A match took place here in 1873 between garrisons, England versus a Scotland-Ireland combined team. Yokohama's international sports events since have grown in scale and sophistication, including the final of the FIFA World Cup 2002. Yokohama is confident that it will present Rugby World Cup 2019 with a fitting stage for many passionate fans. Embeddable Photo

Shizuoka Prefecture

Venue - Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, capacity 50,889

As a tourist destination, Shizuoka is known for its scenery (it is one of the two prefectures straddled by the iconic Mount Fuji), tea orchards and hot springs resorts. For Japanese sports fans, Shizuoka is known for producing star athletes in such sports as soccer, tennis, baseball, basketball and rugby. The Shizuoka Rugby Club was founded in 1929 and is active to this day, joined by four other rugby clubs (including one for players age 40 and older). The Japan Rugby Top League is also popular here, and tag rugby is on the curriculum for many elementary school students in the prefecture.

Aichi Prefecture and Toyota City

Venue - Toyota Stadium, Capacity 45,000

Not surprisingly, Toyota is called the "City of Automobiles" stemming from one of the world's top car manufacturers having its headquarters here. Located at the geographic centre of Japan, Aichi Prefecture and Toyota can also lay fair claim to being the centre of Japanese rugby. The club team affiliated with that automaker has won a number of national championships over the years and enjoys wide popularity. The venue, designed exclusively for field ball sports, is the largest of its type in Japan and has hosted professional soccer league games and matches at the FIFA World Cup 2002. In rugby, the venue is a stage for some Top League and international matches. Local residents and officials are experienced in supporting large international sports events, and will be a great asset in staging a successful Rugby World Cup 2019.

Osaka Prefecture and Higashi Osaka City

Venue - Hanazono Rugby Stadium, capacity 30,000

The third-largest city in the Osaka region, Higashi Osaka is home to many smaller manufacturing companies with highly skilled craftsmen and artisans, to the extent that it is dubbed the 'Craftwork City'. Another thing Higashi Osaka is renowned for is rugby. Its venue, Hanazono, is the site for the winter all-Japan high school championship. Hanazono in fact was the first stadium in Japan to be built especially for rugby, in 1929. The venue and the many historic matches and fan support have led Higashi Osaka to be called 'Rugby City'.

Kobe City

Venue - Kobe City Misaki Park Stadium, capacity 30,312

With mountains on one side and the sea on the other, Kobe is a favorite of foreign visitors and residents alike. No stranger to major international sports events, Kobe has hosted such diverse events as the 1985 Summer Universiade to the FIFA World Cup 2002. The city looks to Rugby World Cup 2019 as its latest opportunity to deliver a top-class tournament to a global audience. Furthermore, this is also a way to tell the world about Kobe's full recovery after a disastrous earthquake, and to bring its residents closer with rugby and its traditions as the common theme. Rugby already has a solid base in Kobe and it is home to one of Japan's most venerated clubs.

Fukuoka City

Venue - Hakatanomori Football Stadium, capacity 22,563

Widely known as a gourmet paradise, Fukuoka boasts a wide variety of local specialties. A Fukuoka specialty in a different area is rugby, with the city being the centre of the sport for Japan's southernmost main island, Kyushu. Rugby in Kyushu got its start when a group of alumni from Keio University in Tokyo working for the same electric utility were transferred to Fukuoka. The team they formed, the Kyushu Rugby Club, led to the wide popularity of the sport. As an indication of rugby's popularity in Fukuoka, the city actually leads the nation with a proportionately higher number of registered players, compared to cities with much larger populations

Oita Prefecture

Venue - Oita Stadium, capacity 40,000

Oita and its venue are no strangers to major international sports events, having hosted matches for FIFA World Cup 2002 and creating an internationally covered human interest story featuring the Cameroon national team and the village that hosted their camp. The strong bonds that developed between the village and Cameroon expanded to include the entire prefecture. Oita's rugby players are recognised for their accomplishments from their youth at the all-Japan high school rugby championship and later at the industrial league level. The prefecture welcomes many overseas visitors with its numerous famous hot springs resorts and other sights; it looks to feature Rugby World Cup 2019 as its latest attraction to the world.

Kumamoto Prefecture and Kumamoto City

Venue - Kumamoto Prefectural Athletic Stadium, capacity 32,000

Kumamoto is home to some of Japan's most exquisite scenery and national parks. In addition to natural beauty, Kumamoto has such renowned man-made attractions as the 400-year-old Kumamoto Castle, one of the largest in Japan. In the Japan rugby community, several top players have come from Kumamoto. Rugby World Cup 2019 represents a special chance for the Kumamoto rugby community to encourage greater participation and further expand the popularity of the sport throughout the prefecture


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Revised roadmap set for RWC 2019

World Rugby is seeking formal reassurances from Japan 2019 on a number of key points following the loss of the National Stadium as a host venue.

Following a detailed analysis of the impact of the Japanese Government’s disappointing decision to remove the new National Stadium from the inventory of Rugby World Cup 2019 host venues, World Rugby has set out a revised roadmap for the Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee to deliver key assurances regarding the successful delivery of the tournament.

These are designed to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2019 will be a superb event that will further the development and growth of rugby in Japan and around the world.

The new National Stadium was due to be the centrepiece of an exciting programme 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. These are critical to an event that is the lifeblood of the game, underpinning its growth worldwide and the financial support of 120 national rugby federations.

Further to detailed and positive consultation with JR 2019, World Rugby is seeking formal reassurance regarding the following key hosting criteria by the end of September in order to undertake a thorough review and analysis of the information.

  • A revised detailed host venue proposal that delivers exceptional team and fan experience, maximising opportunities for fans to be a part of rugby’s showcase event
  • A revised tournament budget with appropriate financial security

World Rugby remains confident that the criteria can be met by the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee and that the first Rugby World Cup in Asia will be a resounding success.


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I'm sure no panic is needed for the loss of the OTT National Stadium...Praise be given to Japan for quickly realizing a horrendous mistake before it got out of hand.

Still some legacy FifaWC venues to refit for purpose.

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Abe moves to ease World Rugby’s fears over 2019 world cup in Japan


  • Aug 29, 2015

With World Rugby starting to publicly question Japan’s ability to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sent a letter to the sport’s governing body expressing his government’s continued support for the tournament.

“We received word from World Rugby that (World Rugby Chairman) Bernard Lapasset received a letter yesterday from Prime Minister Abe’s office,” Akira Shimazu, CEO of Japan Rugby 2019 (JR2019), said Saturday. “It was a private letter so we are not sure of the contents but we understand the letter was honest, humble and strongly worded. We are obviously involved in the process with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, but Abe said he would fully back any of the changes stemming from the removal of the National Stadium.”

The letter was in response to World Rugby’s demand that local organizers produce a new road map for the tournament following Abe’s decision to scrap the original plans for a new National Stadium amid rising costs, forcing JR2019 to return to the drawing board.

The new facility had been slated to host the opening game, semifinals, final and key pool clashes.

“Prime Minister Abe understands his decision to scrap the stadium has caused ripples around the world and he moved to relay his feelings,” said Shimazu.

In addition to providing a new budget, World Rugby have also asked JR2019 to produce a revised host venue proposal by the end of September.

Shimazu said the original 12 host cities will remain in place, with Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium filling the void left by the National Stadium.

“We are holding conference calls with World Rugby on a daily basis,” Shimazu said. “We are going over many things including financial issues and we expect to reach an agreement soon. We cannot say exactly when, but we hope it will be within September.”


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:mellow: Panicking over nothing

Japan should be fine...they would have had ten years to prepare.

The National Stadium debarcle not really an issue with Anjinomoto Stadium easily stepping in as "Home" venue.

:huh: Still, it's nice to know there is an insurance policy there...(like the CWGs - Australia happy to jump in anytime)

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Suddenly it got serious...

Italy and South Africa have been lined up as potential stand in 2019 hosts.

Surely Japan, who have already six years head start to get this far, can't be ready to throw it in. It would be a total dishonor to their way of thinking...All because there is no acceptable main stadium?

With Japan's Super Rugby franchise looking to be delayed from starting in February, has Japan not really taken it seriously?

Rugby playing in the nation is solely the domain of the mighty corporations like Sony, Nissan, Shin Meywa etc...even Shiseido has a team. The public uptake, unlike when Japan joint hosted the Fifa WC, doesn't seem to be there.

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Rugby playing in the nation is solely the domain of the mighty corporations like Sony, Nissan, Shin Meywa etc...even Shiseido has a team. The public uptake, unlike when Japan joint hosted the Fifa WC, doesn't seem to be there.

That's the way with most of their professional sports. Their most popular sports league, baseball, is also comprised mainly of teams that are owned and named for big corporations.

From Wikipedia: Unlike American pro teams, Japanese Baseball League teams were usually named after their corporate owners/sponsors rather than the cities or regions in which they played. This was because Japanese franchising does not have strong territorial requirements as in the Major Leagues; as a result, the JBL teams clustered in metropolitan areas in Japan's center (Tokyo, Nagoya) and south (Osaka). As a result, teams were notorious for how often they changed their names, often because of changes in ownership/sponsorship (and also because of nationalistic regulations imposed during wartime, such as the outlawing of English team names).[3] (The Yomiuri Giants, the Chunichi Dragons, and the Hanshin Tigers are the only surviving major clubs that have always been based in their respective cities. Additionally, the current Orix Buffaloes are a merger of two clubs which never left their hometown.)

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World Rugby boss Bernard Lampasse has been scotching rumors that South Africa is being approached to be stand in host at short not notice for 2019.

Lampasse said no "plan B" has been made and World Rugby is happily working with Japan Rugby and Japanese government officials on a new main venue since the proposed rebuilt National Stadium was scrapped, leaving both RWC2019 and, so far, Tokyo 2020 without a home.

Japan is still well on track with its hosting venues elsewhere.

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Yokohama Stadium to host 2019 Rugby World Cup Final

Yokohama Stadium, which staged the 2002 football World Cup final, will replace Japan’s new National Stadium as the venue for the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, World Rugby said on Monday.

Japan caught World Rugby off guard in July when they announced the proposed new 80,000 national stadium, the centrepiece of the 2020 Olympic Games, wouldn’t be completed in time to host matches during the first Rugby World Cup in Asia.

The venue, whose original design was scrapped by the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, because of escalating costs, was also due to host the tournament’s opening ceremony and match.

World Rugby said the 50,000 seat Tokyo Stadium, home to the local football club FC Tokyo, would now take the opening honour while announcing a new roadmap with local organisers on Monday after a complete review of the plan.

“These are exciting, unprecedented times for Japan Rugby and this revised roadmap reinforces and reflects the shared vision and mission to deliver a Rugby World Cup that will be great for Japan, great for Asia and great for Rugby,” the World Rugby chairman, Bernard Lapasset, said in a statement.

“We would like to thank our partners in Japan for their committed response to the stadium issue and all of the work they have undertaken, and in particular the Prime Minister of Japan and his government, Japan Sports Council and the Governor of Tokyo and Mayor of Yokohama for their full support.”

The tone of satisfaction was in stark contrast to the body’s feelings in July, when they requested urgent talks after Abe, tired of the rising costs and public outcry against the National Stadium plans, ordered a scaled back version.

The delays meant the new National Stadium is not scheduled to be finished until early 2020, shortly before the city stages the Olympics.

The smaller capacity at the Tokyo Stadium will be a blow to both World Rugby and local organisers keen to tap into Japan’s growing appetite for the game.

Interest in the sport has spiked after the team’s shock 34-32 win over doublr World Cup winners South Africa in the World Cup in England last week, the Brave Blossoms’ first win at the tournament in 24 years. A record 20 million viewers tuned in to watch Japan’s next match, a loss to Scotland.

Organisers, though, were quick to talk-up the Tokyo venue and the 70,000 Yokohama Stadium, where Brazil beat Germany 2-0 to win a fifth football World Cup in 2002, and said it would be a fitting host for the rugby showpiece.

“We are also confident that the selection of the Tokyo Stadium for the opening match and the final in the International Stadium Yokohama will provide a spectacular backdrop for the tournament across Japan, throughout Asia and around the world,” the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee CEO, Akira Shimazu, said.


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World Rugby unveil official logo and set tournament dates for RWC 2019


LONDON, 27 Oct - Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan will open on 20 September in Tokyo and end with the final in Yokohama on 2 November, World Rugby announced on Tuesday along with the unveiling of the logo for the next tournament.

The logo bears two of Japan’s most recognisable symbols, the rising sun and Mt Fuji, and is the first RWC emblem since the International Rugby Board rebranded itself last year as World Rugby.

RWC 2015 will end with Saturday’s final between holders New Zealand and Australia, which will also mark the competition’s first steps into Asia.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with how England 2015 has succeeded. We believe it has succeeded at every level,” said Brett Gosper, the managing director of Rugby World Cup Limited.

“Possibly the greatest story of 2015 has been the success of the Japanese team. The Japan-South Africa game, I’m sure they’ll make Hollywood films of that one day as they did with Miracle on Ice. This has been the most competitive World Cup ever and I think the performance of the Japanese inspired all the other tier two teams so we had the smallest winning margins in World Cup history.


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:) Great to see the end of the stock standard green and blue rugby ball emblem motiff...around since 1987. Although it was simple and effective, about time we get to see a bit of individulisim for host nations.

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About time they finally allowed host countries to have more creativity with their brands. I'm also glad they finally solved the issue of the Tokyo Stadium. Not a big fan of the Yokohama stadium but capacity wise I think it will do the job.

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Except it is based around the new IRB, or rather now World Rugby, logo template for their tournaments.

That's a very smart looking logo, and can see it working well as a template for RWCs (unlike FIFA's awkward World Cup shaped logos of recent years).

I think a Gamesbids logo competition could be on the cards here. Give people a list of all the realistic RWC hosts (excluding Japan) with the only rule being the design has to fit inside the new template.

I guess the Rols' Annual Olympic Logo Contest will be soon, so I'll keep this idea on the backburner for now.

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I think a Gamesbids logo competition could be on the cards here. Give people a list of all the realistic RWC hosts (excluding Japan) with the only rule being the design has to fit inside the new template.

That sounds like a good one. I reckon you should grab the ball and run with it.

I guess the Rols' Annual Olympic Logo Contest will be soon, so I'll keep this idea on the backburner for now.

Yeah, it is on the cards. For remembering, you can get the first clue of the season.


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Regional qualification process set for Rugby World Cup 2019

World Rugby has announced details of the regional qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

Following the most compelling and competitive Rugby World Cup to date, the qualification process is designed to deliver the top 20 teams in the world to rugby's showcase tournament, while promoting a pathway for all full member unions to qualify.

With 12 teams having secured their place at Japan 2019 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers which will begin in 2016 and, for the first time, a stand-alone round-robin repechage tournament to determine the final qualifier in 2018. All teams will be determined by November 2018.

RWC 2019 qualification principles

  • 12 automatic qualifiers: Top three teams in each Rugby World Cup 2015 pool automatically qualify for Japan 2019 (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Ireland, Scotland, France, Wales, Georgia, Japan, England and Italy)
  • One European qualifier: The highest-ranked team from the Rugby Europe Championship (excluding Georgia) will qualify for RWC 2019
  • Two Oceania qualifiers: Two teams to qualify for RWC 2019 from a Pacific Tri-Nations championship played on a home and away basis over June 2016 and 2017
  • One Europe/Oceania play-off qualifier: The third place team from the Pacific Tri-Nations will play a home and away play-off with the second-ranked team in the Rugby Europe Championship (excluding Georgia) with the winner on aggregate qualifying for RWC 2019. The loser will qualify for the repechage tournament
  • Two Americas qualifiers: Canada and USA will play home and away with the winner on aggregate qualifying for RWC 2019. The loser will play home and away against the top-ranked South American team (excluding Argentina) home and away with the winner on aggregate qualifying for RWC 2019. The loser of this match qualifies for the repechage tournament
  • One African qualifier: The winner of the Rugby Africa Championship will qualify for RWC 2019. The runner-up qualifies for the repechage tournament
  • Asia/Oceania play-off for repechage place: The highest-ranked team from the Asian Rugby Championship (excluding Japan) will play home and away against the winner of the Oceania Cup with the winner on aggregate qualifying for the repechage tournament
  • One repechage qualifier: The repechage tournament will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winners qualifying for RWC 2019
New opportunities

Within a process designed to broaden opportunity and deliver the top teams in performance to rugby's showcase event, there will be no direct qualifier from Asia owing to Japan's direct qualification from RWC 2015, though there will be an opportunity for the highest-ranked side from the Asian Rugby Championship in 2018 to qualify via the repechage tournament, as was the case for RWC 2015.

Despite not claiming an automatic berth, there is an opportunity for all three Pacific Island nations to qualify for Japan 2019 with a new Pacific Tri-Nations competition across June 2016 and 2017 delivering two qualifiers and further opportunity via a new Europe/Oceania play-off. Additionally, the Oceania Cup winners will play the highest-ranked Asian Rugby Championship team for a place in the repechage tournament.

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Rugby World Cup 2015 was the most compelling and competitive Rugby World Cup to date, demonstrating the ever-increasing competitiveness of the world game in 15s. We are committed to further increase competiveness at international level and the Rugby World Cup 2019 regional qualification process is designed to give all full member unions an opportunity to qualify, while delivering the best teams on merit.

"With interest in rugby currently at an all-time high in Japan, the formalisation of the qualification process, coupled with confirmation of the tournament dates, means that teams and fans alike can now begin the process of planning and preparation.”

The announcement follows consultation with unions and regions and a full review of performance at Rugby World Cup 2015 where rankings upsets and impressive performances cut the competition gap significantly from 2011 with the average winning margin between tier one and tier two unions down from 36 to 30 points.

Final details of the regional competition formats and dates will be announced in due course.

World Rugby


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