Kirwan put in the hours for World cup bid

Japan coach and All Blacks legend John Kirwan was up late persuading rugby union officials in a hotel bar to award Asia’s first World Cup to Japan, it was reported Wednesday.

The 26-member International Rugby Board (IRB) council on Tuesday awarded the 2015 World Cup to England and the 2019 competition to Japan.

Kirwan worked with Japanese bid chiefs until 3:30 a.m on Tuesday, lobbying for votes in the bar of the council members’ hotel in Dublin, Japan’s Kyodo News reported.

As a result, Kyodo reported, they secured votes from three council members, two from Kirwan’s homeland of New Zealand and one from Samoa.

“Human connections still mean a lot in the IRB,” Kirwan was quoted by the Japanese-language news service as saying.

Japan became the first country from Asia — and from outside of rugby’s traditional heartland — to be chosen to host a World Cup.

Kirwan has lobbied for Japan since their bid team arrived in Dublin on Sunday.

“Kirwan got information faster than anybody else,” a team official told the Asahi Shimbun daily.

Kirwan, 44, who powered New Zealand as a winger to the inaugural World Cup title in 1987 on home soil, played three years in Japan’s league from 1997.

He became Japan’s coach in 2007 and guided them through the World Cup in France that year. Japan ended a 13-match World Cup losing streak with a 12-12 draw with Canada.

Asked what he will be doing when the World Cup comes to Japan in 10 years time, Kirwan was quoted as saying by Asahi: “I will take part as a coach. I don’t know which country I will be leading.”

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