Tuesday, March 31, 2015


10 March 2015

Written by Ian Mcdonnell
Contact ianmcdo@apost.plala.or.jp

Edited by Gary Carbines for http://rugby-international.blogspot.com.au/

RiJ lists the host cities for RWC 2019 his issue after they were officially announced during the week. There is also a wrap on the National Championship and a bit of a look at the worth of promotion and relegation in Top League.

Enjoy the read.


  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Host Cities
  • 52nd National Championship
  • Promotion-Relegation

RWC 2019 logo

Host Cities

On Monday, 2 March 2015, in a simultaneous announcement in Dublin and Tokyo, World Rugby revealed the 12 venues for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Japan Rugby 2019 CEO Akira Shimazu noted, “I extend my deepest appreciation to all of the 15 candidates for participating in the host application process.” He went on to say, “Each of the candidate cities had excellent credentials to host and we decided on the final selection based on the overall needs of the tournament.”

World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset also said, “This is an important milestone for the tournament. Now we know exactly where the matches will be staged in Japan, and more importantly, the people of those cities and fans around the world can start planning for the big event.”

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper added, “I would like to congratulate the successful cities but also thank each and every one of the applicants and also Japan Rugby 2019 who have led on this process.”

The 15 submissions were reduced to 12 final venues with Sendai, Kyoto and Nagasaki missing out on selection.

Sapporo Dome, Sapporo city, 41,410.
The stadium has a fixed roof with retractable baseball (artificial) and football (grass) surfaces. It is the northern-most of the 12 venues.

 Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, Kamaishi city, Iwate prefecture, 16, 187.
This yet-to-be-built venue is the smallest stadium in RWC 2019. Home to the legendary Nippon Steel Kamaishi side of the 1970s and 1980s, the area was hars hit by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Kumagaya Rugby Ground, Kumagaya city, Saitama prefecture, 24,000.
Located just north of Tokyo, the Kumagaya Rugby Ground is well located within the northern Kanto region. Japan played Tonga at this venue in 2002 in the only rugby international match to be played at the ground to date.

New National Stadium Japan, Tokyo, 80,000.
This new state-of-the-art stadium is currently being built to replace the 1964 Olympic stadium. The final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup will be played here.

International Stadium Yokohama (Nissan Stadium), Yokohama city, Kanagawa prefecture, 72,327.
The stadium hosted the final of the 2002 Football World Cup and at present has the highest seating capacity of any stadium in Japan.

Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, Fukuroi city Shizuoka prefecture, 50,889.
Built in 2001, this stadium also hosted games at the 2002 Football World Cup.

Toyota Stadium, Toyota city, Aichi prefecture, 45,000.
Complete with a retractable roof, this stadium was also constructed in 2001 and is often used by Toyota Verblitz and Toyota Industries Shuttles for Top League games.

Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Higashi Osaka city, Osaka prefecture, 30,000.
Opened in 1929, Hanazono was the first rugby-dedicated ground in Japan. Higashi Osaka city will take ownership of the facilities in April 2015 with plans afoot to modernise the stadium ahead of 2019.

Kobe City Misaki Park Stadium (Noevir Stadium Kobe), Kobe city, Hyogo prefecture, 30,312.
This stadium also has a retractable roof and is used by Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers for home matches. Built in 2001, this stadium also hosted games at the 2002 Football World Cup while Japan played the Maori All Blacks here in November 2014.

Hakatanomori Football Stadium (Level-5 Stadium), Fukuoka city, Fukuoka prefecture, 22,563.
This stadium has hosted a number of rugby internationals and is a regular venue for Fukuoka-based Top League sides.

Oita Stadium, Oita city, Oita prefecture, 40,000.
This stadium is the largest of the three venues based in Kyushu.

Kumamoto Prefectural Athletic Stadium, Kumamoto city, Kumamoto prefecture, 32,000.This multi-purpose stadium hosts the occasional Top League game but is mostly used by local soccer side Roasso Kumamoto.

The 52nd National Championship 2015

Recent National Championship Finals

2015 (52nd): Yamaha 15 d Suntory 3
2014 (51st): Panasonic 30 d Toshiba 21
2013 (50th): Suntory 36 d Kobe 29
2012 (49th): Suntory 21 d Panasonic 9
2011 (48th): Suntory 37 d Sanyo 20
2010 (47th): Sanyo 22 d Toyota 17
2009 (46th): Sanyo 24 d Suntory 16
2008 (45th): Sanyo 40 d Suntory 18
2007 (44th): Toshiba 19 d Toyota 10
2006 (43rd): Toshiba 6 drew with NEC 6 (Joint champions)
2005 (42nd): NEC 17 d Toyota 13
2004 (41st): Toshiba 22 d Kobe 10


In England, talks are about that promotion and relegation between the Aviva Premiership and the Championship could be a thing of the past, from as early as next season.

On ESPN Scrum on 5 March 2015, in an article entitled ‘Closing the shop would benefit as all’, former Welsh international John Taylor wrote in favour of abandoning the time-honoured tradition of promotion and relegation and the relevance of his words equally apply to Top League here in Japan.

The link to the original article is here, http://www.espnscrum.com/premiership-2014-15/rugby/story/258403.html but to quote Taylor in short –

“The gap between the Premiership and the Championship is becoming a chasm, unbridgeable without the support of a hugely wealthy backer, and it is time we stopped pretending that the English game can sustain two divisions of full-time professional rugby”.

Although circumstances are different, the gist off the argument is pretty much the same, and so if we tweak Taylor’s words a bit we come up with something like this. ‘The gap between Top League and the regional leagues is becoming a chasm, unbridgeable without the support of a hugely wealthy corporate backer, and it is time we stopped pretending the Japanese game can sustain this system of quasi-professional rugby’.

In his article, Taylor went on to say the following. “Discussions have been going on behind closed doors for months … because everyone knows the present structure is unsustainable, and the reality is that there are certainly no more than 14 clubs with any aspirations to be a part of the top tier”.

Undoubtedly, discussions have been going on about the future of Top League with Japan entering a side in Super Rugby from 2016, and to be sure, the present system is unsustainable. Further, the reality is that there are certainly no more than about 16 to 20 corporate sides that can hack it in Top League. A line needs to be drawn under these 16 to 20 sides as they go it alone in an exclusive Top League competition.

The two-stage system that has been used in Top League the past two seasons has merit with a view to expansion. Two separate divisions of 8 to 10 sides each could be introduced with the usual ‘haves’ in the top division and the usual ‘have-nots’ in the lesser division. Play two rounds of home and away and at the end of the season the bottom team in Division One would trade places with the top team in Division Two.

The future structure of domestic rugby in Japan is now open to scrutiny and with a view to radical change that can only be a good thing.

Japan logoimage002

Japan’s World Rugby Ranking:
11 (11) (74.70, 23 February 2015).

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