1 Oct 2015

2019 Japan RWC venue confirmed

11:58 am on 1 October 2015

Yokohama Stadium, which staged the 2002 football World Cup final, will replace Japan's new National Stadium as the venue for the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.

The Webb Ellis Trophy

The Webb Ellis trophy Photo: Supplied: RWC

Japan caught World Rugby off guard in July when they announced the proposed new 80,000 national stadium, the centrepiece of the 2020 Olympic Games, wouldn't be completed in time to host matches during the first Rugby World Cup in Asia.

The venue, whose original design was scrapped by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe because of escalating costs, was also due to host the tournament's opening ceremony and match.

World Rugby said the 50,000 seat Tokyo Stadium, home to local football club FC Tokyo, would now take the opening honour while announcing a new roadmap with local organisers after a complete review of the plan.

"These are exciting, unprecedented times for Japan Rugby and this revised roadmap reinforces and reflects the shared vision and mission to deliver a Rugby World Cup that will be great for Japan, great for Asia and great for Rugby," World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said in a statement.

"We would like to thank our partners in Japan for their committed response to the stadium issue and all of the work they have undertaken, and in particular the Prime Minister of Japan and his government, Japan Sports Council and the Governor of Tokyo and Mayor of Yokohama for their full support."

The tone of satisfaction was in stark contrast to the body's feelings in July, when they requested urgent talks after Abe, tired of the rising costs and public outcry against the National Stadium plans, ordered a scaled back version.

The delays meant the new National Stadium is not scheduled to be finished until early 2020, shortly before the city stages the Olympics.

The smaller capacity at the Tokyo Stadium will be a blow to both World Rugby and local organisers keen to tap into Japan's growing appetite for the game.

Interest in the sport has spiked after the team's shock 34-32 win over twice World Cup winners South Africa at the ongoing World Cup in England last week, the Brave Blossoms' first win at the tournament in 24 years.

A record 20 million viewers tuned in to watch Japan's next match, a loss to Scotland.

Organisers, though, were quick to talk-up the Tokyo venue and the 70,000 Yokohama Stadium, where Brazil beat Germany 2-0 to win a fifth soccer World Cup in 2002, and said it would be a fitting host for the rugby showpiece.

"We are also confident that the selection of the Tokyo Stadium for the opening match and the final in the International Stadium Yokohama will provide a spectacular backdrop for the tournament across Japan, throughout Asia and around the world," Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee CEO Akira Shimazu said.

- Reuters

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