Bidding War Begins for 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups

Ted HardyContributor IMay 8, 2009

Japan has now thrown their hat into the ring of nations vying to host either the 2015 or 2019 Rugby World Cup. Japan controversially lost out to New Zealand in their quest to host the 2011 World Cup. The decision has sparked debate as to how far the International Rugby Board is willing to go to spread the game.

The consensus is that while they want to grow the game in budding rugby nations such as Japan and the United States, they are still swayed by the the pull of the top rugby nations.

Last month the Japan Government confirmed its full support of the JRFU’s bid to secure the hosting rights for the third biggest sporting event in the world with Prime Minister Taro Aso pledging his backing.

Nobby Mashimo, Japan Rugby Football Union Chairman, said, “This is a special bid as it is a bid for Rugby in Asia.

"With the support of our friends from all 26 Unions in the region, and the backing of the Japanese government and business community, we believe that we can deliver a Rugby World Cup that will capture the hearts and minds of people and provide the platform to take Rugby to new levels in Asia.”

England, South Africa, and Italy join Japan in the hunt for the opportunity to host one of the two World Cups. With the 2011 World Cup being played in the Southern Hemisphere, it is likely that the 2015 tournament will be played in the Northern Hemisphere.

England has the inside track on hosting proviledges after narrowly missing out to France for the rights to host the 2007 World Cup. England last hosted the tournament in 1991 along with Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France.

RFU Chief Executive Francis Baron OBE said, “We believe it is time that we brought the Tournament back to England and are confident we would be able to provide the best platform to profile the sport on the world stage and enable us to make a lasting commitment to grassroots rugby.”

The IRB Council has demanded guarantees of £80m and £96m for the 2015 and 2019 tournaments respectively—figures that they reduced from £100m and £120m in light of the global credit crunch. However, the IRB has expressed a desire to recoup their original target from the tournament that has an estimated £2.1billion-worth of economic benefits for the hosts.

With the IRB pulling in massive amounts of funding from the staging of the World Cup, don’t be surprised if the competing unions end up in a bidding war for tournament rights.

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset admitting last year, “There is nothing to prevent one Union bidding the minimum guarantee of £80 million for RWC 2015 and another bidding £100 million.”

The IRB will announce which Unions will be hosting 2015 and 2019 RWC respectively during a Special Meeting of IRB Council to be held on July 28 in Dublin.