2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan the most difficult to organise, says World Rugby
By Geraint Hughes
Last Updated: 19/09/18 3:24pm
With one year to go until the first Rugby World Cup in Asia, the event's governing body has admitted Japan 2019 has been the most challenging they have had to organise.
World Rugby are responsible for delivering a successful tournament, but they say the challenges placed in their way have been numerous.
The governing body says the primary challenge has been the inexperience of the organising committee compared with recent editions of the tournament in England, New Zealand and France.
That lack of know-how has not been the only issue, though. World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper and RWC 2019 operations manager Alan Gilpin have admitted team camps have been an area of concern, as the focus has often been on ensuring stadiums are delivered on schedule.
Although RWC 2019 only has 20 teams competing, 52 team camps are needed as sides move around the country during the tournament.
The camps need to be of the highest standard, with indoor and outdoor facilities along with gyms and hotels capable of providing a 6' 9" lock with a good night's sleep.
While these issues have admittedly worried them, both Gosper and Gilpin are of the belief that the Japanese organisers are now addressing concerns, and say they have brought in expertise from overseas.
With the World Cup's first match taking place on September 20, both men insist the tournament will be a success and say that one area not burdening them is the World Cup budget as local and national government has become more involved.
Ticket sales have also been strong, with particular interest in Japan's group games and matches involving the likes of New Zealand and England.
2.5 million applications have been made for 1.8 million seats, with 30% of those applications coming from outside Japan.
World Rugby believe around 20 matches will see 98% capacity achieved, matching the figures from England 2015. However, they admit the challenge is bringing people to matches between lower ranked teams with a lesser profile.
Staging the World Cup in a country such as Japan also requires World Rugby to consider factors out of their control, such as the impact that the elements could have on the tournament.
World Rugby have confirmed contingency planning is well advanced should either a severe storm such as recent Typhoon Jebi or an earthquake hit the region.
The tournament has also built into its schedule the ability to move matches from venues and organisers are confident they will be able to cope with date changes.
Gosper also believes the 2019 tournament will benefit from the staging of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, taking place just nine months after the rugby tournament has concluded.
The World Rugby chief executive said: "It's good being in and around an Olympics. It's great that the centre of the sporting world is in one place."
Gosper added it was his firm belief that the Rugby World Cup is now third in the list of top global sporting events, with only the Olympics and FIFA World Cup putting it in the shade.
"We think we're number three, certainly when it comes to commercial revenues and economic revenue," he claimed.