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20:25 23 February 2016

Rugby: RWC 2019 hosts get debrief from record-breaking 2015 organizers

By Rich Freeman
TOKYO, Feb. 23, Kyodo

The next Rugby World Cup may be three-and-a-half years away but "the clock is ticking...and the rugby world is watching" as Japan puts into place its plans for hosting "a ground-breaking tournament," RWC boss Alan Gilpin said Tuesday.

"In the next three-and-a-half years our mission with Japan Rugby is to deliver and create a platform for a truly special tournament, to project rugby to a new audience and inspire people across Japan, Asia and the world to get into rugby," Gilpin said at a press conference at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in the middle of a busy week of meetings between Japan Rugby 2019, England Rugby 2015 and Rugby World Cup Ltd.

"If England 2015 was record breaking then Japan 2019 will be ground breaking and record breaking in its own right."

Joining Gilpin on the trip to Tokyo was, among others, Stephen Brown, managing director of Rugby World Cup 2015.

"It's been a week of closure," Brown said as his team gives a full debrief to the new hosts. "It's important that we transfer the knowledge we gained to Japan and share our learnings so that we can constantly improve the tournament."

Last year's tournament in England saw 2.47 million tickets sold and exceeded the revenue target of 250 million pounds ($353 million).

After taking into account the 80 million pound deposit for World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union made a profit of 15 million pounds, "all of which was reinvested into the game," said Brown.

While there were a number of challenges to be met in terms of budgeting, ticketing and marketing, both Brown and Gilpin agreed Japan was ahead of England in terms of preparations at a comparable stage, especially as it knows where all the games will be played.

"We didn't have the venues selected and that became a big challenge," Brown said.

Who plays where will be determined over the course of this year, Gilpin said, explaining that a full review was being carried out on the process for the draw allocation and seeding for the 2019 tournament.

A decision as to when the draw will take place will be made this year, he said, well after the qualification process for 2019 has begun.

"The road to Japan begins in two weeks when Jamaica hosts Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the first of more than 180 games involving 80 countries to deliver the eight teams to join the 12 teams already qualified," Gilpin said.

"It's an honor to host the Rugby World Cup," said Brown. "But there is also a responsibility to add something special as it passes through your country. And I think Japan is in a good place to do that in four years time."

==Kyodo

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