LONDON - There is no alternative to Japan as host of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, World Rugby president Bernard Lapasset said Tuesday.
The rugby leader denied reports last week that the governing body had been in talks with South Africa about replacing Japan, whose plans were thrown into turmoil when the government decided against building a new national stadium in time for the 2019 World Cup.
“There is no plan B for 2019,” said Lapasset at a news conference three days before the kickoff of the World Cup in England.
“There has been no contact with South Africa,” the Frenchman added.
Relations between the Japanese organizers and World Rugby suffered a blow when the government decided that a proposed new National Stadium was too expensive at $2.1 billion dollars.
“It was difficult after the cutting of the stadium. That meant a big change to the program.
“However, we are very confident now the Japanese will meet our requirements. We will be holding some meetings with the Japanese in the coming weeks to ensure we have the best competition in 2019.”
Japan lobbied hard to win the right to host the sport’s quadrennial global showpiece beating South Africa and Italy in a vote in Dublin in 2009.
Japan will be the first Asian host of the World Cup and the first to come from outside the top tier of established rugby playing countries.