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Singapore — Japan’s hosting of the 2019 Rugby World Cup has created "nervousness" about whether big crowds will turn up but national pride will carry the day for the Japanese, World Rugby chief operating officer Alan Gilpin says. It will be the first time the tournament will be held in Asia and outside of the sport’s traditional strongholds, but Gilpin expects audiences to fill up the stadiums. "It’s not just the first World Cup in Asia, it’s the first World Cup outside of the traditional rugby strongholds. So that definitely presents some challenges," he told a conference in Singapore on Monday. "It creates some nervousness. Will we have sold-out stadiums, will we have the same level of audience engagement, the same engagement we had in previous world cups? The answer is yes, we will." Gilpin said 2017 was a "critical year" for Japan as it ramped up the campaign to promote the tournament, to be held in 12 cities across the country over six weeks. But Japan already has a base to bui...

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