• Kyodo

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The Japan Rugby Football Union on Wednesday targeted at least a berth in the last eight of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and medals in both men’s and women’s sevens at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Its new strategic plan was an upward revision of the previous 2010 version, which only aimed at reaching the last eight at the 2019 World Cup and had no mention of Olympic targets.

Japan in 2015 became the first team not to make it out of the World Cup pool stage despite three wins, while the men’s sevens reached the semifinals at last summer’s Rio Games.

The JRFU also set a target of 1.5 million in annual attendance for Top-League and Super Rugby by 2020. The figure was 924,000 this past fiscal year but the governing body set the lofty figure as it seeks to expand the domestic fan base.

The JRFU is looking to attract 2.1 million fans to games at the 2019 World Cup alone.

On the financial front, the union eyes doubling its current revenue of ¥3.5 billion ($32 million) to ¥7 billion through increases in sponsors and income from ticket sales.

The body on Wednesday also named Jun Ikeda, the former president of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Yokohama BayStars as its new extraordinary director.

Ikeda, who has also served that role for soccer’s J. League since December, played a role in the sharp rise in the Yokohama-based ball club’s attendance. The union appears willing to listen to his advice in order to increase attendance.

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