Dublin-Ireland, April 17, 2012: Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan will be a tournament for all of Asia to be proud of and celebrate, according to IRB Council Member and General Manager of the Japan Rugby 2019 (JR 2019) Organising Body, Koji Tokumasu. Speaking in Manila at the start of the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying process for Asian nations, Tokumasu said Japan was proud to be the first Asian country to host the Game’s pinnacle tournament and that the profile and success of the event would help develop Rugby throughout the region.
“We are committed to ensuring that 2019 will be a Rugby World Cup for Asia,” said Tokumasu.
“It is very important for the growth of global Rugby that Asia continues to develop, that the Game grows and that we build towards 2019 with a common purpose of reaching out to more men, women and children. Asia is a strategically important region for the IRB and the IRB shares the vision with JR 2019 of delivering a tournament that is good for the global Rugby family, good for Japan and also good for the Game in Asia.”
“An independent study highlights an 18 per cent increase in participation rates in Asia since Rugby World Cup 2007. The reasons for that growth have been attributed to the growing profile and success of Rugby World Cup, the IRB’s investment strategy and also Rugby’s re-introduction into the Olympic Games from 2016.”
“The IRB will invest £9 million into the development of Rugby in Asia between 2009-12. There has already been an uplift in China, where Rugby is played in schools, Sri Lanka and India as well as Japan, where the Game has a rich history.”
Tokumasu watched the opening RWC 2015 qualifiers at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Sunday as Philippines beat Singapore and Sri Lanka defeated Chinese Taipei.
Philippines team manager Matt Cullen said: “It’s outstanding that Rugby World Cup is coming to Japan. Asia has such a vast population and area and it has been largely untapped by sporting codes like soccer and Rugby. It’s only recently that those sports have started to make an impact here and there is so much potential for growth.”
“Japan deserves its opportunity to host Rugby World Cup 2019. They have the infrastructure, the Rugby tradition and are the strongest Union in Asia so it is fitting that they have been given this opportunity.”
“I’ve no doubt they will do a great job in hosting it and that it will be a catalyst for Rugby right across the region. It will lift the profile of the Game in Asia throughout the next seven years and beyond.”
Sri Lanka coach and former England hooker Phil Greening said: “The IRB’s decision to award Rugby World Cup 2019 to Japan was a great one and I think it will help to make Rugby into a truly global sport. Japan will embrace it and I’ve no doubt it will be a huge success, both as an event in itself but also with the legacy it will leave all over the continent of Asia.”