Japan re-think RWC plan after World Rugby demand

2019 Rugby World Cup hosts Japan have promised to make a new list of venues
for the event after governing body World Rugby demanded fresh plans for the
tournament.

The move comes after Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shocked World Rugby
(formerly the iRB) when he scrapped plans for the new national stadium for the
2020 Olympics saying it was too expensive.

The new stadium formed part of Japan’s bid to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup
and was meant to host Rugby World Cup matches including the final in 2019.

World Rugby issued a strongly-worded statement saying that it would give Japan
until the end of September to come up with a “revised detailed host venue
proposal” as organisers scramble to find a replacement.

Rugby’s governing body has also requested a fresh tournament budget that supplies
“appropriate financial security”.

Japan Prime Minister Abe said the $2 billion cost of the stadium was too high
and a new design should be found. As a result, any new stadium will not be ready
by 2019.

“Following… 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,” it said in a statement.

It added that the loss of the venue “has significant impact on the overall
ticketing capacity and tournament budget”.

Japan’s World Cup organising committee said it was drafting fresh plans that
would satisfy the global body.

“World Rugby and the Rugby World Cup 2019 organising committee have engaged
in talks over venue and budget plans in light of the development that the new
national stadium won’t be available,” said Akira Shimazu, the committee’s
chief executive.

“Both World Rugby and us are taking forward-looking approaches, and we
are working hard to reach an agreement by the end of September at the latest,”
he added.

The stadium fiasco has been a major embarrassment for Japan and Tokyo’s Olympic
organisers have found themselves under heavy pressure to deliver a new venue
in time for the 2020 Games.

The International Olympic Committee demanded this week that Japan complete
the redesigned stadium by January of that year, three months earlier than planned.

World Rugby’s demands come just days after Japan national coach Eddie Jones
said he would step down after this year’s World Cup in England.

He is also quitting as a director of Japan’s new Super Rugby side, as fears
mount that the franchise could collapse amid reports that just a handful of
players have signed contracts with the team, which will join the expanded competition
next year.

Japan does have other stadiums that could host the event — including one in
Yokohama just south of Tokyo which staged the 2002 football World Cup final.

But there could be repercussions over reduced ticket revenues because any replacement
venue would have fewer seats than the originally planned stadium.

Last month, World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset told AFP that there was no
immediate question of moving the tournament from Japan.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup is not the only problem that Japan have in Rugby as
they were given a licence for a Super Rugby team from 2016 but they are so far
behind in their planning for this that organizers SANZAR have started making
emergency plans to potentially stage the tournament without them next year.

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