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Johnson gives his backing to Japan’s bid

by Rich Freeman

The Japan Rugby Football Union’s bid to host Rugby World Cup 2011 received the backing and support of rugby legend Martin Johnson on Friday.

Speaking at the Martin Johnson Testimonial Dinner backed by deVere and Partners in Tokyo, the former England and British and Irish Lions captain said that the game would only benefit as a result of a World Cup being held in Japan.

“Rugby needs to expand and broaden its horizons,” he said. “And giving Japan the World Cup would take the game to a new level. Japan showed what a good job it did with the football World Cup in 2002, which is the second biggest sporting event in the world, and I am sure they will do the same with the Rugby World Cup, which is the third biggest event.

“It would be a great tournament for the fans with fantastic venues and I am sure they (the JRFU) would do a fantastic job.”

Johnson, the last captain to raise the Webb Ellis Cup, was backed in his support by former England hooker Peter Wheeler and longtime partner in the Leicester Tigers’ engine room Matt Poole.

“I endorse what Martin said (about Japan) and can’t think of a better place to host the World Cup,” said Wheeler.

Despite being in Tokyo on a whirlwind visit, Johnson was impressed by what he had seen.

“I have found Japan to be a fantastic and amazing place and am sure the thousands of fans who come to Japan will find it the same,” he said.