11
Nov
08

Asia for 2015 World Cup

Rugby’s power-brokers would be foolish not to hold the 2015 World Cup in Asia, according to Japan coach John Kirwan.

Japan lost out to New Zealand for the 2011 tournament but former All Blacks winger Kirwan says an Asian country should get the nod ahead of England and other rivals for the next one.

“I think it would be very silly not to give it to Asia,” Kirwan told Reuters after returning from last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup clash between New Zealand and Australia in Hong Kong.

“People are probably talking about England getting the World Cup more than us (Japan) which I believe would be a mistake.

“Obviously, for (Britain) having the 2012 Olympics that would be the icing on the cake for them, to pay for the infrastructure they’ve already had to shell out for.

“But the strategy of the game going forward is what? To grow rugby or not? That’s the only question the people running this game have to answer.

“If we want to make this game a serious global contender for the sports market then it has to come to Asia.”

The former Italy coach insisted there was still work to be done to convince the International Rugby Board (IRB) to award the 2015 World Cup to cash-rich Asia.

He rejected the notion that IRB officials could feel Japan was “due” having missed out for the 2011 tournament.

“I don’t think it’s a shoo-in,” said Kirwan, who has just signed an extended contract keeping him in the Japan job until 2011.

“There’s plenty of support from the public but from a political point of view there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

OLD STEREOTYPES

Kirwan said his biggest hurdle was breaking down old stereotypes about Japan, Asia’s top rugby nation, among the game’s establishment.

“There are three pretty big misconceptions out there about Japan,” he said. “Firstly, there is an incredible infrastructure here — we’ve got the stadiums, we’ve got everything.

“Second (the misconception) that Japan is expensive for tourists. That’s wrong. You can really live cheaply here. If you want to have $6 noodles for dinner you can.

“Third, will an Asian World Cup make money? Well that’s just ridiculous.”

South Africa and Italy have also expressed in hosting the 2015 World Cup but Kirwan insisted Japan was the logical choice for the IRB.

“They are really concerned about making money but I keep saying this is the second richest economy in the world — tell me there the problems are,” said the 43-year-old.

“We have the biggest companies in the world sponsoring our game — why wouldn’t you want to marry us?.”

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