Yokohama Stadium, which staged the 2002 soccer World Cup final, will replace Japan’s new National Stadium as the venue for the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, World Rugby said on Monday.
Japan caught World Rugby off guard in July when it announced the proposed new 80,000 National Stadium, the centerpiece of the 2020 Olympic Games, wouldn’t be completed in time to host matches during the first Rugby World Cup in Asia.
The venue, whose original design was scrapped by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe because of escalating costs, was also due to host the tournament’s opening ceremony and match.
World Rugby said the 50,000 seat Tokyo Stadium, home to local soccer club FC Tokyo, would now take the opening honor while announcing a new road map with local organizers on Monday after a complete review of the plan.
“These are exciting, unprecedented times for Japan Rugby and this revised road map reinforces and reflects the shared vision and mission to deliver a Rugby World Cup that will be great for Japan, great for Asia and great for rugby,” World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said in a statement.
“We would like to thank our partners in Japan for their committed response to the stadium issue and all of the work they have undertaken, and in particular the prime minister of Japan and his government, Japan Sports Council and the governor of Tokyo and mayor of Yokohama for their full support.”
Super Rugby games set
Japan will get its first taste of Super Rugby action at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground in Tokyo on Feb. 27 when the new Japanese franchise hosts the Lions of Johannesburg, tournament organizers said Monday.
The Japanese team, which has yet to unveil a team name or squad list, has been drawn in one of two South African Conferences alongside the Bulls, Cheetahs and Stormers.
The Japanese will play three home matches — against the Cheetahs (Round 3), Bulls (Round 5) and Stormers (Round 12) — at the National Stadium in Singapore as part of a deal struck before beating out a bid from the Southeast Asians.