The Springboks during the South African national rugby team captains media conference and team photo at Umhlanga on August 17 2018 in Durban. Picture: ANESH DEBIKY/GALLO IMAGES
The Springboks during the South African national rugby team captains media conference and team photo at Umhlanga on August 17 2018 in Durban. Picture: ANESH DEBIKY/GALLO IMAGES

Exactly one year from the start of Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2019‚ Japan’s organisation is on track after early problems‚ which prompted a public rebuke from World Rugby in 2017.

The Springboks‚ who were in the doldrums at the time‚ also appear to be on track for the tournament a year from now following a historic and unexpected 36-34 win over the All Blacks in Wellington last week.

In 2017‚ around the time World Rugby was fretting about Japan’s readiness‚ specifically the construction of training venues‚ the Boks were reeling from a loss to Italy and suffering record defeats against the All Blacks and slipping to number seven on the world rankings.

The Springboks are back up to number 5 and have a chance to improve their ranking in the coming months as they prepare for another assault on the World Cup in 12 months’ time. The Boks are in Pool B where their opening game is against the reigning champions New Zealand in Yokohama. Last week’s win is a huge boost a year out from a clash where victory was‚ until a week ago‚ seen as a formality for the All Blacks.

World Rugby chair Bill Beaumont says he believes that Japan 2019 will be “a very special RWC” as the one-year-to-go milestone was marked with a series of celebrations across the host nation.

'Most impactful RWC ever'

On September 20 2019‚ the world’s top 20 teams‚ supported by 1.8-million fans in stadiums and a global audience of hundreds of millions‚ will begin their quest to lift the most coveted trophy in rugby: the Webb Ellis Cup.

“World Rugby selected Japan as we believe in the tremendous opportunity to further the sport across Asia‚ and I am delighted to say that, with a year to go, we are confident that Japan 2019 will be a very special‚ successful and game-changing RWC‚” Beaumont said.

“It will be the most impactful RWC ever‚ attracting and retaining more than 1-million new rugby players in Asia. Japan 2019 will also benefit the whole of the nation from Sapporo in the north to Kumamoto in the south‚ delivering rugby and sports facilities for communities to enjoy‚ while pumping ¥216.6bn (R2.8bn) added value into the economy," Beaumont says.

“In keeping with a tournament that has rugby at heart‚ the team camp and match venue facilities are looking superb and everyone will receive an incredible welcome from engaged host cities and prefectures.”

So far‚ 19 of the 20 participating teams have been confirmed with Canada‚ Hong Kong‚ Germany and Kenya set to compete for the final available place via the repêchage (rescuing) in Marseille in November 2018. The winners will join champions New Zealand‚ SA‚ Italy and Namibia in Pool B.

One year to go: Rugby World Cup 2019 by the numbers

  • First Rugby World Cup hosted in Asia
  • Six worldwide partners renewed in record time with record value
  • Ninth Rugby World Cup
  • 12 host cities from Sapporo in the north to Kumamoto in the south
  • 20 teams
  • 48 matches
  • 207 broadcast territories
  • 3‚000 media in attendance
  • 20‚000 disadvantaged children in Asia who will benefit from ChildFund Pass It Back support
  • 400‚000 international visitors
  • 899‚288 Impact Beyond Asia
  • 1-million project participants to date
  • 1.8-million attendance
  • 2.5-million tickets applied for to date
  • 14-million rugby fans in Japan
  • 112-million rugby fans in Asia
  • R2.8bn added value to the Japanese economy

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