TOKYO (AFP) –
The International Rugby Board (IRB) said on Friday that Japan will have caught rugby fever by the time it hosts the 2019 World Cup, even though the national team only has one win in 24 matches.
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset told reporters the best way to boost the game’s following is to promote the national team.
He said with a lot of support from IRB, the Japan Rugby Football Union can see a lot of great talent coming through the ranks in the next seven years.
“It’s totally possible, very possible, because in the professional way, seven years are (a) new generation. It’s a new period, a new team and new coaches,” said Lapasset.
“(National coach) Eddie Jones is the most famous coach in the world. He has good experience,” he said, adding Jones brought with him the ability to get the best out of players at a very high level.
“We will work together with the IRB for the programme to extend the number of games, and develop regularly at the top level,” added Lapasset, who was in Tokyo for a regular meeting on the 2019 World Cup.
With Japan’s only World Cup win coming against Zimbabwe in 1991, previous Japan coach John Kirwan had aimed to get two wins in last year’s event, but lost to New Zealand, France and Tonga before drawing with Canada.
Lapasset said the IRB will help Japan by giving them the chance to play against teams at a high level.
He said the game was already developing in Japan, with a boost to the number of people playing rugby.
“Since we announced World Cup 2019 in Japan and the Sevens in the Olympics, the number of players has grown 90 percent, especially in Asia. It’s fantastic. We have a lot of players, men and women,” said Lapasset.
“That is the starting point. I’m sure we will be progressing a lot in seven years, because the way is open for the promotion.
“We know the Japanese people will be exceptional Rugby World Cup hosts. We know that there will be a unique and friendly atmosphere like a festival,” he added.