World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont, above, believes that Japan is “comprehensively proving” to be the best of hosts as the world anticipates a spectacular Rugby World Cup.
With three days to go, the teams have been experiencing the world-renowned Omotenashi, or hospitality, as rugby-mania grips the host nation.
Open training sessions by Wales, New Zealand and South Africa have attracted more than 27,000 fans, while wherever the teams go there are hundreds of expectant fans to greet them. Team social media channels are full of images of Japan embracing their presence.
With the latest research demonstrating 100.8 million people in Japan are aware of the tournament and the announcement today that more than 96 per cent of the tickets have been sold, Beaumont is confident that Japan 2019 will be one of the great Rugby World Cups on every level.
“I am fully expecting a spectacular Rugby World Cup, one of the great tournaments,” Beaumont said.
“Japan has comprehensively proven that it will be the best of hosts, welcoming the world’s best players and 400,000 international visitors with open and welcoming arms. The welcome that the teams have received has been nothing other than magnificent, truly special.”
On the field, observers are predicting a wide-open race to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, with recent form suggesting a number of teams could be crowned world champions on 2 November.
Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Men's Rankings certainly suggest that this will be a very compelling and competitive Rugby World Cup.
“New Zealand, Wales and now Ireland have occupied top spot in the standings over the last six weeks or so, nearly doubling the number of teams who have been at top since the rankings began in 2003, which is exciting.
“We are also hopeful of some rankings upsets and that would be great for the tournament. It is now over to the teams to show the world what they can do.”
Away from the action, World Rugby also announced at the pre-tournament press conference in Tokyo the latest outcomes from the Impact Beyond legacy programme, including a significant uplift in the number of young people introduced to rugby in Asia of 1.8 million (one million in Japan).
Details were also outlined of the retention programme, a key element of the programme to ensure a sustainable legacy for the tournament.
-Story by World Cup