Bledisloe Cup proves Japan is World Cup ready

World rugby chief Bernard Lapasset believes the “superb” New Zealand v Australia clash on Saturday was a perfect example of what Japan can expect to see in the run-up to hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

A near-capacity 44,500 spectators watched the year’s fourth and final Bledisloe Cup match at the National Stadium on Saturday as New Zealand beat Australia 32-19, stretching their trans-Tasman winning streak to seven Tests.

“It was a great occasion, a wonderful atmosphere and a superb rugby match,” International Rugby Board (IRB) chairman Bernard Lapasset said in a statement published on the website of the Japanese Rugby Football Union.

“As a spectacle it demonstrated to the Japanese public what to expect in 2019,” he said, adding it “showed the excitement and enthusiasm for the game amongst the (Japanese) rugby community and beyond.”

It was the second time that a New Zealand-Australia Test was played on neutral ground to tap the growing rugby market in Asia.

The All Blacks saw off Australia 19-14 before nearly 40,000 spectators in Hong Kong last year.

“We could demonstrate rugby’s potential popularity in Japan,” Japanese Rugby Football Union president Yoshiro Mori said earlier.

“It’s given us confidence to host the World Cup.”

The Japanese union said it held talks in the past two days with Lapasset, who also heads Rugby World Cup Limited, which owns all rights associated with the World Cup.

Lapasset said the 2019 edition would hopefully “reinforce the status of Rugby World Cup as one of the world’s top five sporting events, showcase international rugby at its best, develop the game in Asia and set a benchmark for future tournaments.”

Nobby Mashimo, chairman of the Japanese union, said: “There is a long road ahead but we are determined to ensure that the tournament is a global spectacle that the Japanese public and global rugby family can be proud of.”

In July the IRB council approved by 16 votes to 10 a recommendation by its top executives to have England and Japan host the 2015 and 2019 World Cups respectively. Italy and South Africa were the other bidders.

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